Montrose – Montrose (Review)

Montrose – Montrose (2017 Deluxe Edition)

Sammy Hagar has always been a divisive figure, not least for being the interloper who dared replace Dave Lee Roth in Van Halen. But when Hagar supporters find themselves unable to convince anyone of Van Hagar’s merits or the quality of his various other outings, they can always rely on one thing: the 1973 debut album from Montrose. It’s an unassailable classic of 70s man rock and one of the earliest examples of party-hearty American metal. Other 70s hard rockers would enjoy more fame and rewards but Montrose‘s cult influence would be heard everywhere from the clubs of the LA glam scene to the garages of the NWOBHM.

So kudos to Sammy for his charismatic vocals and songwriting contribution (“I gave love a chance and it shit back in my face”). But the real star of the show is the band’s guitarist and founder Ronnie Montrose. His superior playing and hot rod riffing is timeless and, in tandem with producer Ted Templeman, he colours the band’s meat and potatoes simplicity with a deceptively rich range of tones. From the spacey, hard-charging Zep chug of Space Station #5 and the revved up intro to Bad Motor Scooter to the monster-plod bludgeon of Rock Candy, Montrose is a treasure-trove of stealable guitar parts and sounds. The old-timey Good Rocking Tonight and One Thing On My Mind lean towards filler but both are served up with charm and stop the album from getting too po-faced.

Unfortunately, Montrose couldn’t make it last. One more (underrated) album later, Sammy would be fired. And he wouldn’t be involved with anything quite this good again. But it can be 1973 forever. Just take your top off, stick on Montrose and rock the nation.

HMO Rating: 4.5 Out Of 5

35 thoughts on “Montrose – Montrose (Review)”

      1. This one is fantastic and I upgraded to the deluxe versions of it and Paper Money a couple years back on your advice, although I don’t remember if it was direct or indirect advice. I’ve always very much liked Paper Money, and especially “I Got the Fire,” the title track and “Connection,” which I think outdoes the Stones own version. And, while I admit that Jump On It and Mean were later let downs, I have a real soft spot for third album Warner Brothers Presents, which< I think, tentatively pointed the way toward what Ronnie would do so much better with Gamma, i.e. up the melodic without sacrificing the guitar heroics.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I’ve only heard assorted songs from later Montrose albums but I’m glad you like Paper Money too. It gets unjustly criticised. It’s different but it’s great… kinda similar vibe to Tommy Bolin vibe for me. And I really am overdue checking out the Gamma stuff. Heard great things about them.

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  1. When I caught Sam back in 84 he played Bad Motor Scooter on his VOA Tour. This is a great album. Have it on CD that I bought like 30 years ago! lol
    Reading the Templeman book Ted talks about producing debut Montrose album and 5 years later producing the debut VH album on the same record label as well. Than of course Ted produced VOA. Lot’s of connections there. That book is a great read into the biz side of things.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I really fancy that book. I’ve got a backlog to read through and then I’ll get to it. Producers and biz people are usually more interesting than the actual musicians!

      I’ve never seen Sam but from the live stuff I’ve got he seems to do Rock Candy a lot too.

      I think my first copy was about 25 years ago. But it got upgraded… Rock Candy edition and then the deluxe.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You would like it Scott. Ted goes into great detail the VH and Roth solo albums and how Dave fired him before starting work on Aerosmith.
        Like you said more interesting than the musicians at times.

        Liked by 1 person

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