Northern Irish rockers Million Dollar Reload have made something of a name for themselves as a hard working, hard rocking live proposition, and you certainly get a whiff of that from this, their second studio outing. It’s the sort of record that was ten a penny in 1988, an AC/DC-meets-Aerosmith extravaganza of gritty vocals, soaring choruses and febrile, throbbing one-note basslines that can’t fail but get the extremities twitching. The fact that it’s not 1988 any more (mores the pity – nostalgia loving Ed.) actually helps M$R rather than hindering them, as there aren’t too many albums like this (at least not this good, anyways) in the market place these days which helps the band stand out as something rather special and pretty tasty.
To merely write the band off as AC/DC copyists does the band a massive disservice however. Indeed the irony is that had Bon Scott come up with the likes of Bullets in the Sky, Blow Me Away or Smoke n’Mirrors in 1978 there’s a fair chance half of Highway to Hell would never even have made it onto the album – these songs are that good, and the band’s performance – an infectious brand of cock rocking bravado mixed with high quality chops and, most importantly, massive talent – only serves to reinforce the quality oozing out of the speakers. Vocalist Phil Conlon occasionally overdoes things – there’s a little too much of Krokus’ Marc Storace in places when what we really want is Thunder’s Danny Bowes, but once you’re into your fourth BIG glass of Bourbon and singing along to Can’t Tie Me Down or the Teslaesque Pretty People that’s not really so big a problem as it looks on paper.
Guitarists Andy Mackle and Brian Mallon don’t put a finger wrong anywhere on the album as far as I can detect, the pair of them forming an exciting Whitford/Perry double act that swings as much as it bludgeons, whilst the rhythm section – bassist Kie McMurray and drummer Sean McKernan – keep the meat n’potatoes coming in much the same efficient, speedy manner as that Man out the back of (insert the name of your favourite bakery chain here) filling the pies during the Lunchtime rush.
Like all of 1988’s best albums, there’s a monster ballad included – Broken, which manages to sound like an improbable mix of Skid Row and Feeder – but, sadly, unlike 1988 it ain’t destined to be a massive radio and video hit, though clearly that fact is a travesty. Still, it serves to break up the album nicely and it’s a great song so enough of the curmudgeonly blubbering, eh?
At the end of the day, Million Dollar Reload have released an absolute stormer of an album, one which they can be utterly proud of and one which deserves to be in every home in the country. They know it, I know it, and now you know it. Spread the word.