Tygers of Pan Tang
Tygers of Pan Tang
Reviewed By Andrew McKaysmith
Talk about ageing gracefully! Almost 40 years into their chequered career, Tygers of Pan Tang (TTOPT henceforth) have released an album that sounds crisp and ready and willing to compete with the enormous volume of rock and metal releases available to the not so discerning listener in the late teen-naughties.
Tygers of Pan Tang will appeal to both an old-school rock rooster - the type that only listens to the 'real Iron Maiden' with Paul Di Anno - and the more recent arrival whose collection may have started at Nickelback and Korn. It's rather an accomplishment, really, as I'd unhesitatingly call this self-titled effort by TTOPT a straight up hard rock album for all ages and skill levels.
As the album was actually released somewhere in late 2016, I've had an opportunity to read other reviews and a great deal of emphasis seems to be afforded to the band's place in the annals of NWOBHM history. Such is the strength of Tygers of Pan Tang it deserves to be viewed as a standalone offering free from the burden of the band's not so illustrious history. One piece of history the warrants a mention is that it is only Rob Weir that survives the Wild Cat (1980) line up that recorded the debut. The excellent John Sykes is also nowhere in sight given we last heard from him in the band on their 'hit', a cover of The Clovers relatively forgettable Love Potion No 9 (1982).
John Sykes is an important reference as he is without doubt one of the finest rock guitarists to strap on a Les Paul. His contribution as the guitarist and vocalist in Blue Murder and on such timeless classics as "Still of the Night", "Here I Go Again" and "Is this Love", all from the eponymous Whitesnake album ('87), not to mention his role in latter day yet still intact Thin Lizzy and the solo material of Lizzy's legendary front man and bassist, Phil Lynott, all meant that Weir and co. had the unenviable dilemma of replacing Sykes after he left.
Sykes, who left the band in 1982, would only truly be replaced almost 20 years later on the virtually forgotten comeback album Mystical (2001) by the all but unknown Dean Robertson. Now I don't have the liner notes as to who performs the solos and leads on Tygers of Pan Tang, however it takes two to tango and Weir and Robertson throw memorable solo after solo. Its blue chip stuff and I'd recommend the album to any aspiring guitarist.
I'm genuinely pleased to have had the opportunity to review Tygers of Pan Tang. It wasn't what I expected and far exceeded my expectations. There are so many highlights that I really don't want to isolate one in favour of another- I will offer that opener "Only the Brave" is a brilliant way to commence the album and sets the scene nicely.
Having been in many bands and spent time in recording studios, it's always down to one individual to make the majority of the decisions in a band. Bands always work better as a benevolent dictatorship than anything democratic. It sounds as though Weir has assembled a worthy crew of lieutenants who can follow an instruction and execute a command. Without knowing the band's dynamic I'd implore Weir to keep things as they are, as on the strength of Tygers of Pan Tang the band's best days may well be ahead.