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MARK TAYLOR'S BIG CITY NIGHTS
TYGERS OF PAN TANG: 'AMBUSH'
Whitley Bay's Tygers Of Pan Tang were at the forefront of the NWOBHM movement, just behind Iron Maiden, Saxon, Def Leppard and Motorhead in the Metal premier league table of the time.
Their debut album 'Wild Cat', with Jess Cox on vocals, was a Top 20 hit album and was later a big influence on Metallica whilst their second album 'Spellbound' with Jon Deverill on the mic was a more slick and polished affair with Metal edges. Slower songs like 'Mirror Mirror' and 'Don't Stop By' taught the art of writing a Metal ballad to Skid Row when it came to writing songs such as '18 & Life' and 'Quicksand Jesus'.
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It could be argued tht the Tygers were a little ahead of the game with their fourth album 'The Cage'. Another Top 20 smash where the band were the first NWOBHM to move into a commercial pop orientated sound a few years before Def Leppard had their major success.
Despite having a few minor hit singles, including a cover of 'Love Potion No.9' , the record label MCA were expecting a little more success and a fallout between the band and the label resulted in a stalemate which then led to many fractured line-ups of the band continuing without any real gain.
Slowly but surely guitarist Robb Weir took up the Tygers Of Pan Tang name and after a few false starts really delivered with 2008s 'Animal Instinct', an album that once again made the critics and the fans stand up and take notice again of the former legend.
His greatest find was in vocalist the Italian stallion Jacopo Meille (that's plain Jacob to you and me squire) who has a clear ear piercing voice that only matches but even surpasses that of former singer Jon Deverill meaning he could handle the new, as well as the older material, with aplomb.
With this new album 'Ambush' the Tygers have gone one better, in fact make that two. Firstly after a chance meeting at Hard Rock Hell last year they met up again with artist Rodney Matthews who has done the cover artwork for this album and who originally did the cover for Tygers third album 'Crazy Nights' and remains my favourite piece of art from Matthews.
Secondly they teamed up yet again with the legendary producer of their first two albums, Chris PANTANGarides (So called in the sleeve notes of 'Spellbound').
Tsangarides has given a production of clear clarity and has cleaned up any mistakes that the Tygers may have made with a less well established producer to make a surprisingly mature classic Metal sounding album. The duel guitar that sounds so evident on those early albums is back again with a vengeful hunger.
Not only that but this album flows faster than the River Tyne without any drift wood.
Suzie is still happily smiling. Fangs ain't what it used to be, it used to be the critics, but it's now the Tygers Of Pan Tang who are doing the mauling.