Uncle Sam-Heaven or Hollywood (Re-Release)
Well folks now we're talking. Talk about a golden oldie! Leave it to our friends at Minotauro Records to dust off this classic LP and give it a proper re-release. It's been a long time coming if you ask me! Now, I'm sorry to disappoint folks, but I'm going to try to keep things PG 13 here with the cover. If you are older like I am and are in any way, shape or form a collector of all things hard rock and heavy metal then I am going to guess that you've heard of this band before. Or you are at least familiar with the cover artwork of this 1987 LP. This is one of the less risky versions although the bikini cover one is probably the safest bet. Otherwise I am sure that you can guess what's under that sticker! Yes, it's pretty scandalous all around. The thing is what of the actual music? By the name and album title you'd likely be guessing that this one is sleaze and or glam metal. Am I right? I know that was my guess way back in the day when I first came across an MP3 of "Heaven or Hollywood". And yet this one is all about rock. Underground/garage rock if you will with the result being one album that is closer to the New York Dolls or solo Johnny Thunders than it is the likes of Poison, Ratt or Mötley Crüe. And man alive if it isn't just one of the most beautiful things out there! To be fair there is more then enough raw metal and punk on an album like this one to have universal appeal. There are shades of Motörhead, Kiss and even (early) Mötley Crüe. But in it's heart of hearts this band was all about rock. Imagine heading to a seedy bar in the worst part of town and hearing a band that pulled from the better parts of not only the New York Dolls and solo Johnny Thunders, but Iggy& the Stooges, Alice Cooper ( a HUGE influence on this four-piece!), the Cramps, the Ramones and even the Godz. Imagine finding out over the course of the evening that this band knew as much about the Sex Pistols and the Dead Boys as they did AC/DC and Aerosmith. And to top it all off the blended all of that knowledge and all of these different influences into a glorious rock and roll racket! That is what we are talking about with Uncle Sam and their album "Heaven or Hollywood". As vocalist Scott Cesna took to the mic like a disillusioned rocker of old his bandmates trashed the joint with the kind of finesse usually reserved for the likes of the Stooges, MC5 or the Dead Boys. Theirs' was a take no prisoners, love 'em and leave 'em take on over the top garage rock and roll and Uncle Sam had to have known that they were living for the moment with the D.I.Y. "Heaven or Hollywood" a means to an end. As good as they are on this record they were reported every bit as good live and whether they were tearing the walls down with their own material or covering the likes of "Steppin' Stone" or "Train Kept A' Rollin" (both choice covers tacked on here as bonus numbers with Uncle Sam's take on "Train..." coming across like a cross between The Godz version and Motörheads!) Uncle Sam was always spot on! And thanks to this very cool (enhanced) re-release here you can relive all of that conflict and glory, the good times and bad times if you will, in the comfort of your own home! Served up as a mini-LP with gatefold Japanese style papersleeve packaging, custom OBI and a sweet poster this re-release offers a great look at this Rochester, New York-based band that was just too cool for the times. Having sadly released only one more album (1990's "Letters From London") the band Uncle Sam came and went before they could be fully appreciated for what they had to offer. That's a shame as Uncle Sam's take on sleazy garage rock was sweet on the taste buds and ahead of the times.