SHARK ISLAND – I Hear MORC Calling (MORC Spotlight)


morc shark islandHere’s another band participating in MORC West whose introduction for me came via a movie soundtrack from my younger days. This band was a huge bucket lister for me. I never dreamt I’d ever see them live. The 1988 movie Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure was a massive hit with my friends and I. Which only meant we were destined to acquire the film’s soundtrack as well. That soundtrack introduced me to a couple of bands/albums that remain top rated favorites today. I made it my personal mission to collect the albums of every band on the soundtrack.

For the soundtrack, a band called Shark Island supplied two awesome tracks, “Dangerous” and “Father Time”. In 1989, Shark Island released their Law of the Order album. Although it would be some years later before I myself would hear it. It was a feeling that must be akin to uncovering that dinosaur skeleton for the archeologist. A fantastic piece of late 80’s melodic hard rock severely overlooked by the record buying public. Check out my Buried Treasure Review of Law of the Order.

SHARK ISLAND Brief History

shark Island coverWhile a popular staple on L.A.’s Sunset Strip, Shark Island never got their due. I’m sure in part a casualty of the hammer of grunge that was to smash down two years later. The band began under the Sharks moniker as far back as 1979. Created by Richard Black (vocals) and Spencer Sercombe (guitar), the rest of the roster frequently adjusted in the early days. An independent album titled Altar Ego surfaced in 1982, but three years later they became Shark Island.

The first Shark Island release was another independent in 1985, S’cool Bus. The band also spent time as the house band at the world-famous Gazzaris on the Sunset Strip. Bassist Chris Heilmann and drummer Greg Ellis joined in 1989 to record and release the band’s only official album titled Law of the Order. And then Shark Island disappeared. But not before GnR frontman Axl Rose would outright copy Black‘s stage moves.

Original members, Richard Black (vocals), Spenser Sercombe (guitars), Christian Heilmann (bass) reunited and brought drummer Glen Sobel into the fold to record 2006’s Gathering of the Faithful.


morc shark island igor-1
photo by Igor Vidyashev for MORC

I about pooped my drawers when I saw the post on the official Monsters of Rock Cruise page. Totally pumped that Shark Island would be aboard! Never ever did I think I would ever be seeing Shark Island live! The first Shark Island set as we cruised the high seas aboard the NCL Pearl came on the second day (Sunday). The schedule saw them playing in the Spinnaker lounge. Which, just like the lounges on other ships cruised for MORC, is a cool setting. But it offers absolutely horrible vantage points for those vertically challenged. The stage is a mere foot off the ground and so if not in the very front you may find yourself rather obstructed viewpoint-wise. Nonetheless, I was about to see/hear Shark Island!

Shark Island sounded absolutely fantastic even throughout the humming issues plaguing the amps. At one point they broke momentarily to attempt to discern the issues. While not 100% sure on all the players involved in this incarnation as information is apparently not readily available. I do know that Ken Mary was sitting behind the kit and Michael Guy (guitar) were among those gracing the stage with vocalist Richard Black.

Shark Island Spinnaker Set
Spinnaker Setlist

It was beyond thrilling hearing “Father Time” as well as cuts from Law of the Order like “Paris Calling” and “Somebody’s Falling”. Unfortunately, however, that was about the end of my favorite Shark Island tracks from my beloved Law of the Order. The set also included one song each from S’cool Bus (“Puss in Boots”) and Gathering of the Faithful (“Go West”). Also on the list was “My City” which originally appeared on the film soundtrack to the Patrick Swayze/Keanu Reeves feature Point Break. Five brand new songs rounded things out.

I, to be honest, am absolutely stunned that they did not play more off Law of the Order. Tracks like “Get Some Strange”, “Shake for Me” or even “The Chain” (their cover of the Fleetwood Mac classic). I understand and respect wanting to showcase all of your work, but this album is what people know and want to hear. While I love all their music and look forward to the new album I found the set rather weakly chosen personally. As evidenced by the Spinnaker crowd starkly dissipating by about half way through.

I did also catch their second set partially on the Tuesday as well. Originally scheduled for noon on the pool deck, some rainy weather forced a relocation to the Atrium and a later start of 12:30pm. Shark Island again sound absolutely fantastic musically, with Black‘s vocals seemingly unaffected by the years.

Once again, Thank-you MORC! I never expected to be able to see Shark Island live and while the setlist may not have been to my biased opinion liking, they were fantastic and hopefully there’s more to come from the Island.

morc shark island igor
photo by Igor Vidyashev for MORC


BUY: Law of the Order

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