CD Review: MASS / Fighter
Reviewed by: Roger Scales
Has it really been 28 years since four Boston area kids prepared themselves to complete a life long dream of recording their very first full length album with legendary producer Tom Allom in Miami, Florida? Well it has been but after listening to Fighter hard rock and metal fans alike can take solace in one thing..it was worth the wait!! Kudos to Retroactive Records and Matt Hunt for taking the initiative and giving this release its place in the still evolving history of this great band.
There are four tracks on Fighter that appeared on the 1985 RCA MASS release New Birth – “Too Far Gone”, “Voyager”, “Watch Her Walk” and “Do You Love Me”. Each track has its own subtle differences from each other; slightly different lyrics, some tempo and pace changes and the Fighter versions seem to have more of a raw feel to them than the more polished ones on New Birth. When you have been listening to a song for 25 years you get conditioned to hearing it a certain way so Fighter is definitely a shock to my MASS system!!
The title track “Fighter” is a real over the top anthem driven rocker that packs some serious punch that easily could have been the first single and video back in 1982. “Can You See it Again” suffers from what I call indecisiveness. Allom could not decide if he wanted a ballad here or a mid tempo track and the end result is a tune that has too many time changes and jumps for me. I really like the lyrics and think Louis and Gene should record the song unplugged…food for thought guys. Although the CD comes with a terrific booklet complete with lyrics to all the songs and some notes from Louis it would have interesting to see how many types of guitars Gene used during the recording of Fighter. I cannot feel the ferocity I now hear from his Zakk Wylde Les Paul Bullseye!! ESP maybe? Jackson perhaps? Only Gene knows…
“Slip of the Lip” could have been penned as “Fooling with My Head” after my initial listen—so not to confuse hard rock fans with the RATT tune of four years later. Then again when the CD comes out in 2010 it’s a moot point I guess. I really like Kevin’s bass tone in this one. “Change Your Way” has a Maiden feel to it. Fast and furious..typical MASS. My favorite track is “Bad Man’s Reputation” which did appear on Best Ones a few years back as a bonus track. You could also say that this track sort of exemplifies what the band went through during this period in a very poor management deal which is why Fighter never came out in the first place.
The bottom line with Fighter is simple. Rarely do fans have an opportunity to absorb what a band was like in its initial stages of development. Sometimes you get to hear demos, snippets of live cuts or an alternate version of a favorite song just to fill an album, or a greatest hits package just to get you to buy it. Fighter is different because you now have a small time capsule of MASS in 1982. Young, driven, hungry and ready to make their mark..and what a mark it’s been!!