New York’s own Taylen Storm hit back with an archived release of their collected demo output through US indie label Demon Doll Records. Taylen Storm was formed by singer/guitarist Taylen Farrow in 1988 and soon became a force to reckon within the local club circuit of New York and New Jersey. The first man to join the new band was bass player and long time friend Tommy Thatcher. Seeking a thicker and heavier sound, they recruited lead guitarist and long-time friend Joey Brighton. The last man in was drummer Steve Capri. Farrow‘s raspy and personal voice combined with punchy, in-your-face songs gave them an edge above the rest. The image really expressed a mix between Angel and Mötley Crüe. Parallel to Mötley having one blonde guy and three black-haired guys, Taylen Storm built their image on Taylen Farrow dressing in white for the shows while the rest of the band dressed in black. Their shows were spectacular and full of smoke, fire and pyro.
In 1989, Taylen Storm went into the studio and recorded their first three-track demo tape. It caught the attention of Jerry Love at A&M records as well as Mike Faley at Metal Blade Records. Everything seemed set for that elusive record deal to materialize soon and the band went back into the studio to record some more demos to show they had enough songs for a debut album. So far so good, but the waves of the music industry were already changing and it took a turn for the worse in 1991 when the grunge wave hit with full force and swept aside bands like Taylen Storm and the rest of the glam/sleaze scene worldwide. After just three years together the band sadly broke up in 1991 due to a mix of this changing music scene, loss of enthusiasm and running out of passion for their cause.
Fast forward to 2015 and US indie label Demon Doll Records decided to collect the band’s demos on 1 CD and release it to the public for the first time managing to do so with the full co-operation of the band. So what does this piece of plastic sound like? Is it another one of those archive releases where you can hear why the record contract never materialized? Gladly it is not! This is a piece of music history that is just too good to be kept locked away in the vaults. Just follow me on a ride through 13 tracks of melodic hard rock heaven! Let´s examine it the Lionsheart way:
Track by track comments
I first heard of Taylen Storm when I bought the split CD Taylen Storm/Scaredycat that was put out in a very limited supply by Retrospect Records back in 2005. Here you get the first three track demo including standout cuts like “Bye Lullaby” and “Little Rag Doll” and it just left me wanting more, but I somehow thought this was it. There is more! Finally, I got a newsletter from Demon Doll Records stating that they are releasing a 13 track CD of archive material by Taylen Storm. Nothing else to do than surf over to their page and hit the “Buy” button immediately. So let´s take a closer look at these 13 tracks that make up this album:
The album fires on all cylinders immediately and unloads what might be the strongest track on the album as the opening track. “Bye Lullaby” has been a favourite of mine since I bought the CD with their first three track demo about ten years ago. It´s a melodic hard rock masterpiece which perfectly suits Taylen Farrow´s raspy and personal voice and it has a couple of really nice tempo changes where they go from soft to heavy and then back to soft again. The goosebumps are in place right at the first track. Farrow really shines on this one and just like almost all songs on this disc there is a constantly present melody, a surprising tempo shift or a huge hook waiting around the next corner. The press material from Demon Doll Records talks about the band’s important image but what catches my attention is the strong melodic feel that flows through every song on the album. It feels like 1987 all over again and a couple of cuts have me playing air guitar – only the mirror missing compared to me being 16 years old and rocking it out to the Skid Row debut album. Farrow and Joey Brighton share guitar duties and the playing is very melodic and it makes me think of Bill Leverty (Firehouse). A steady beat from Steve Capri and Tommy Thatcher makes me start toe tapping straight away. After this highlight, we are presented with “Won´t Say No” which is more of a classic and straight ahead hard rock tune. It also has its moments with a nice chorus and a pleasant groove but never reaching its predecessor’s heights. After that, it is time for the last song off the first three track demo and this is another highlight with a super catchy melody that tends to never leave your mind (which can be somewhat annoying). “Little Rag Doll” is a perfect slice of melodic hard rock heaven. A hook to die for, a riff that is memorable and a stellar vocal performance from Farrow says it all really. It starts off with an acoustic guitar which transcends into a solo piece and it changes tempo a couple of times. The chorus has a hook that jumps at you and punches you in your face.
The sound quality is a little poorer in “Without Your Love” which has got Jimmy Forrest (of Kidd Skruff and Push fame) and Randy Powers (Kidd Skruff) guesting on drums and bass. It is another nice melodic hard rock song but not one of the strongest cuts. A lot of tempo changes again with acoustic parts trading off with heavier electric ones. This concept that flows through most of the songs provides variation that keeps your attention on the music. We are back on the catchier and stronger track with “Follow The Rain” which has an infectious hook and a raw sound to it. Up next is “Let Her Go” and we are almost half way through the album. This is a nice, feelgood melodic hard rock song and more consistent when it comes to beat and tempo. Ok, it´s time for a power ballad and we are blessed with “Baby Your All I Want” which is a really strong tune where Farrow´s voice get all the space it demands and needs. It could easily have fit on any power ballad collection of your choice around this time. What makes it stand out from the rest is the melody and hook that is out of the ordinary. They would certainly give White Lion a run for their money. Track eight is titled “Need Your Love” which is the heaviest song on the album and it has got a great heavy riff with a lot of groove and suddenly Farrow sounds angry and pissed off. A real gem and another highlight (as you see there are plenty!) with a cool stick that features some acapella singin’ towards the end. This is followed by one of the albums few weaker spots, “One Night Show”, which is an ordinary mid paced rocker but nothing out of the ordinary except that it features a great guitar solo.
This song turns out to be an exception and we are back on the winning track with “Shine On” which starts off with a nice dual guitar harmony that is quickly followed by an acoustic guitar and a heartfelt vocal from Farrow. It is the album’s second and last rock ballad but it is still a strong track with a sing-a-long chorus crafted to rule MTV in a time when they still aired music and not the kind of crap they do now. Back to heavy rock and time to wake up when “Rough It Up” kicks in with a drum beat and a sleazy riff. With a different beat and a great bass groove, it´s also a nice addition to the collection of songs. Time for some “na na na na” singing in “Am I Losing You” which despite that has got a heavy and dark riff driving the song forward maintaining it´s melodic, almost AOR feel. The chorus stands out from the rest with it´s melodic build up and gang-like vocal. Another of the top songs of the album! We end on a high note with “Two To Go” which is another professionally crafted song with a memorable hook. When it ends I still want more which should be a good feeling right? Top picks are hard to sort out, but I have to go with “Bye Lullaby”, “Little Rag Doll”, “Need Your Love” for its heaviness and “Am I Losing You”.
Taylen Farrow has got a personal and really great, raspy voice that intensely remind me of a young Mike Tramp of White lion (think Fight To Survive/Pride era) or a mix between Tramp and of the criminally overlooked band Gypsy Rose. On the whole Taylen Storm remind me of a sleazier cousin to early White Lion also when it comes to song structures, hooks and commercial potential with a bit of Mötley Crüe sleaze mixed in for good measure. The big difference is that White Lion got a shot at fame that Taylen Storm did not.
There are a lot of reissue record companies out there and the steady flow of archive material is very mixed when it comes to talent and quality of the recorded material. When you listen to some bands I think you can right away put your finger on why this and that band were never signed. This is just not the case with Taylen Storm. These guys had it all; the looks, the hooks, the guitar hero and the frontman to go all the way. What they also had was a healthy dose of bad luck that ensured they stayed as a demo band and never got signed. What is sad is that all these great songs never got the chance to be recorded in a proper way in a professional studio with a big shot producer. Still, I have to send a big thanks to Demon Doll Records and a couple of other small indie record companies that continue to dig up these unheard great bands.
When you first open this CD you get the usual 4-page booklet with Demon Doll releases but also a short band biography. Info and packaging could, of course, have been better with lyrics reprinted in a fatter booklet, but here you get a short background and a presentation of the band. Nice! I can recommend this release to any fan of late 1980´s, early 1990´s melodic hard rock/hair metal. If you can live with a dated production this CD is definitely for you and it sticks out above most other archive releases. I will rate it to high grade based upon what I have said above and give it a good 8/10 geeks. Sound quality, production, and a little scarce booklet prevent a higher grading. It would have been nice to know what the guys in the band have been up to since 1991 for an example. Such a waste of talent not to hear anything more from these guys. What would have happened had they been signed, we will never know.