No idea who Pretty Maids are? Never heard of them you say? Well that’s not particularly surprising as they’re not exactly a household name in North America. Beginning in Horsens Denmark in the early 80’s, Pretty Maids have been on the circuit ever since, issuing 13 albums, but never achieving the mainstream success that they deserve, especially here in North America. Known for their catchy riffs and melodic choruses, founding members Ronnie Atkins (vocals) and Ken Hammer (guitars) remain the sole original Maids today. After a self titled demo for a small record label they signed on with CBS for their 1984 debut, Red, Hot & Heavy. The follow up, Future World, produced by Eddie Kramer came three years later in 1987. Deep Purple’s Roger Glover had a hand in 1990’s Jump the Gun which did not succeed in finding an audience other than in Japan where Pretty Maids would develop a following throughout the 90’s. After the lack of success Atkins and Hammer were the only ones left standing and soldiered forth recruiting a new team for 1992’s Sin-Decade. Possibly their finest output with Scream was served up in 1994. Scream saw the band go in a heavier direction while still maintaining the melodies. 1997’s Spooked and 1999’s ridiculously titled Anything Worth Doing Is Worth Overdoing followed in the same vein before the millennium’s more flaccid Carpe Diem. Planet Panic in 2002 upped the riff-age and heaviness while still incorporating the vocal melodies and keyboards even instilling a feeling or sense of panic as you listen. Some tough times befell the Maids as their management went bankrupt and Hammer suffered a heart attack but never-the-less they persevered and with a new drummer in the fold issued Wake Up to the Real World in 2006. It would be four years before another offering with Pandemonium in 2010, another album vying for the title of best of the bunch. The Danes delivered 2013’s awesome Motherland (Meister’s Top Ten’s of 2013) in March and now are set to issue Louder Than Ever a year later. Joining Atkins and Hammer are keyboardist Morten Sandager (since 2006), drummer Allan Tschicaja (since 2006) and bassist Rene Shades (since 2011)……looking forward to what this combo has up their sleeve next.
Pretty Maids show no signs of slowing down and Louder Than Ever releases on March 21st in Europe and 25th in North America. The album does not contain totally new material, but seven re-recorded tracks from the 1995-2006 albums and five brand new compositions. The album comes with a DVD that contains some archive 80’s footage as well as new interviews and other goodies, but alas that was not included in my promotional download. Louder Than Ever gets underway commandingly in the new song “Deranged” and it would seem that The Maids have really found their niche with this style of heavy riffs and melodies. “Playing God” originally appears on Planet Panic and is fresher here and more guitar oriented with gruffer vocals, while the original was not bad this one just seems better. Scream‘s “Psycho Time Bomb Planet Earth” leads us into another new submission with the more melodic, but still catchy “My Soul to Take”. A double shot from Planet Panic sees “He Who Never Lived” and “Virtual Brutality” coming before “Tortured Spirit” from Carpe Diem and “With These Eyes” originally showing up on Anything Worth Doing is Worth Overdoing. The furiously paced new composition “Nuclear Boomerang” explodes after the intro and features some gruff vocals from Ronnie Atkins coupled with the melodic choruses that have served Pretty Maids so well in the past. .Anything Worth Doing is Worth Overdoing supplies “Snakes In Eden” while Wake Up to the Real World delivers it’s title track. Louder Than Ever shuts down with the final new track, “A Heart Without A Home”, a softer offering and not a favorite for me.
The new tracks intermixed between the re-records keeps Louder Than Ever moving along well from start to finish. All of the re-records sound fantastic and fresh, fitting in excellently with the rest of the material resulting in another incredible output from the “Danish Dynamite” that is Pretty Maids. With a new recording in the works hopefully it won’t be too long before it sees the light of day and my hot little hands! I look forward to my first venture into the live Pretty Maids experience as I travel from Toronto, Canada to Solvesborg, Sweden for Sweden Rock Festival (Sweden Rock) in June and then later in the year to Nottingham, England for Firefest: The Final Fling Festival (Firefest) in October 2014……..any chance of an interview boys?
On March 28, 2014 Pretty Maids are offering, in conjunction with Subcell (Pretty Maids Online Concert Event), an online viewing of their concert in keyboardist Morten Sandager’s home town of Aalborg, Denmark for as little as $3 (Not sure of the currency that price is quoted in)…..If I wasn’t on a cruise ship in the Caribbean that day……..
Until then I recommend listening to this new Pretty Maids release at a Louder Than Ever volume to achieve the optimum results!
The Meister (“LIKE” The Meister on Facebook)