Released May 10th 1990
Could it be the music video you watch just before going to work, will be one of a band you’re a fan of for life?
Such was the case in the summer of 1991. Steelheart’s debut music video of “(Angel Eyes) I’ll Never Let You Go,” appeared on MTV. I was immediately entranced by Miljenko Matijevic’s broad vocal range. So much so I almost forgot to go to work. But I didn’t forget that responsibility…or to remember this latter-day glam rock band.
For Steelheart to not appear on the scene until that era was on its death bed and a mere few years before the birth of grunge, in my humble opinion, made them less than what they could have been. Nonetheless, “(Angel Eyes) I’ll Never Let You Go” reached number 14 on the Billboard charts and the video as the second most requested one on MTV in 1990.
Though they had a few subsequent albums after Steelheart, such as Tangled in Reins, Steelheart this one was the best ever for them. The same can be said about the band members: Chris Risola and Frank DiCostanzo as the guitarists, James Ward on bass, and John Fowler on drums.
There were a few things about this band and this debut album that were firsts for me.
Not to be analytical about trivial things about music, most of the songs’ duration was no less than five minutes. I recall having to buy blank tapes that were 120 minutes long when I made copies for my friends. Before I discovered this band, I don’t think I had done that.
In any case, the unusual duration of the songs was inconsequential in light of what you’d hear. By the time “(Angel Eyes) I’ll Never Let You Go” is in queue, you will have heard three songs that include but are not limited to a building, heart-thumping intro, thanks to the bass drum; a rippling guitar riff in “Like Never Before”; and tight musical chemistry in “Can’t Stop Me Loving You.” After that song ends, you have four more that have the same qualities, not the least of which is the steady pace of the songs, all of which would make the hair on your arms stay up, and most of all Matijevic’s high notes. One of those is “Sheila,” the only one of its kind with a rich and decided blues riff and a building call-and-response at the end: “OH, SHEEEEEEEIIIIILLLLLLA!”
My three favorites on there are “Like Never Before,” “Gimme Gimme” and “Down and Dirty.” Why? Because I “feel” the gutsiness and grit in them, especially in the latter song. That’s how I have, after twenty-five years, remembered this album, the eternal impressions it has made on me.
I therefore give it a 9 out of 10.
Written by Julia Pope