on September 5, 2005
I've been a fan of Montrose's debut album since it was released in 1973. I still can't believe how amazing these riffs are! And Sammy Hagar gives Paul Rodgers a run for his money as "The Voice" of rock. Every single song on Montrose is a classic -- larger than life riffs, over the top vocals, drumming and bass playing ripped from The Black Sabbath Book of Heavy - thunderous.
So when I discovered Audio Fidelity released a gold disc of Montrose, I whipped out my credit card immediately.
The difference in sound quality between the '73 original and the new remastered gold disc is there, but you really have to be listening intently to notice it. In fact, I've been A/B'ing the two discs for the past 30 minutes, listening carefully for every possible nuance of difference. I'm using a Denon CD player and a pair of Sennheiser headphones. Both are capable of delivering crisp highs and lows. And I'm hearing a slight difference in both, but only a slight one.
(Oddly enough, on my Denon player, the gold disc clocks in at 32:17 while the regular Warner Brothers Records CD tips the scale at 32:23. Not sure why. A six-second difference seems pretty hefty when it comes to favorite music. Yet, I can't find where these songs are missing much. A second here and there could account for it. But no music appears to be missing.)
Okay, as to the positive differences in sound quality, I'd say the biggest differences can be heard in these areas:
1. Denny Carmassi's drums are just a little crisper, especially in the cymbals and kick. (Especially, on "Rock the Nation," "One Thing On My Mind" and -- this is an obvious one -- "Rock Candy.")
2. Bill Church's bass guitar is marginally punchier and cleaner. (Especially on "Rock the Nation," "Bad Motor Scooter" and "I Don't Want It.")
3. Sammy Haggar's voice seems to have greater resolution so that it stands out a bit from the other instruments. This is across the board, not necessarily on any one track. He just sounds more up front.
Ironically, I couldn't discern -- mind you, straining to hear it and using above-average equipment -- any sonic difference in Ronnie Montrose's guitar, which is what I was hoping for.
Often when a disc is remastered the difference is striking. Led Zeppelin, Free and Sweet come to mind as good examples of this. Other times, the remastering doesn't seem to do much to improve the situation. Starz and, now, Montrose are perfect examples of this phenomenon.
That leads me to conclude two things:
1. The original recordings and CD masterings were of high quality to begin with. In the case of Montrose and Starz's debut albums, that's not hard to believe. I've always thought both were astounding recordings.
2. The 24KT gold disc ("From the original master tapes") treatment fell short somehow. Either the "master tapes" used weren't really the master tapes or the person doing the remastering wasn't tops in his/her profession.
My conclusion? Since the price between the regular WB Records CD and the new 24KT gold Audio Fidelity CD isn't astronomical ($10.99 and $14.99, respectively, as of today's date), I'd say go for the Audio Fidelity version. The difference is there (however slightly) and, heck, when you're listening to a classic like the first Montrose CD you want all the sound quality you can get.
However, if money is an object or if you can't find the new 24KT gold disc anywhere (which is a distinct possibility), there's no need to feel cheated if you buy the regular WB Records version. Either way, you're going to hear one of the greatest rock albums ever recorded.
on November 29, 2002
When the definitive history of rock is written, one single accomplishment will demand Ronnie Montrose's inclusion as a guitar great - his 1973 self titled album `Montrose'.
On this album you are treated to Montrose's Gibson Les Paul guitar roaring like a motorcycle or screaming with almost impossible sustain.
Ronnie Montrose's career first took off in the early seventies as a guitarist for Van Morrison. Following this he teamed up with Edgar Winter before forming his own band in 1973 with Sammy Hagar (vocals), Bill Church (Bass) and Denny Carmassi (Drums).
Although Montrose never gained `Mega Star' status, they still managed to build up a large following in Europe and the US and from 73-75 they undertook numerous tours supporting established hard rock acts including Black Sabbath and Deep Purple which enhanced their reputation as a high calibre rock and roll band.
The first album was originally issued in 1973 and was re-released in 1979 to coincide with the New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM) which was flourishing at that time in the UK.
Produced by Ted Templeman and written by the band it contains such songs as Bad Motor Scooter, Rock the Nation and Space Station Number 5 which can all be described as Full-Tilt Riff-Rock at it's very best. If you are looking for an album which will bet the dandruff out of your hair and your neighbours banging on the walls this is the one for you.
Good Rockin' Tonight and Rock Candy are further excellent examples of up tempo, foot tapping, beer drinking rock and roll songs which appear on the album and cry out to be played at maximum volume on your Hi-Fi system.
Surprisingly, Sammy Hagar did not do any guitar work on this album, all of which was left to Ronnie Montrose and was one of the factors which led to unrest between the two of them and the bands eventual splitting up in 1975 with Hagar leaving to pursue a solo career where he would at last get the chance to display his own skills on the guitar.
Things between Hagar and Montrose had become so strained just prior to the split, that for the last dates of their final tour they refused to stand anywhere near each other on the stage.
Following the split of Montrose and a successful solo career Sammy Hagar went on to gain even more fame and fortune as singer/guitarist with Van Halen.
In an era of highly polished, digitally mastered, nicely rounded at the edges productions that we now live in, it's always a pleasure to listen to this album and enjoy that Raw Rock sound of the early 70's. It really doesn't come any better than this.
Mott the Dog.
on March 23, 2001
I've always liked the hypothetical question, "If aliens landed on Earth and asked you what is rock 'n' roll, what album would give them to help answer their question?"
Well, this debut album by Montrose would be a good place to start. This was definitive '70s hard rock -- sort of a missing link between Led Zeppelin and Van Halen. Ronnie Montrose could have been a guitar hero icon, like Jimmy Page or Eddie Van Halen if he had stayed focus and had been more prolific. He certainly had the chops.
This album served as a template for future hard rock bands: a guitar, a bass, some drums and a singer whose seductive growl could peel the paint off your bedroom walls. In this case, the singer was a then-unknown kid name Sammy Hagar. Thanks to producer Ted Templeton, Hagar's dynamic voice is brought front and center into the mix. The effect is a perfect blending of Montrose's sonic guitar riffs -- replete with multi-layering, tons of phase shifting and the best guitar/motorcycle sound I've heard on a rock record -- with Hagar's angst-laiden vocal pyrotechnics.
The songs themselves are just straight-ahead, balls-to-the-wall rock. There's no subtlety here, no important message to be delivered a la U2 or R.E.M. (For example, in "Rock Candy," Hagar manages to yelp, "Your like rock candy, baby, sweet and sticky..." Yet, he pulls it off without sounding incredibly goofy or trite.) And the songs here are extremely catchy, making you want to sing along, as well as shake a little bit of that which mama gave you.
"Rock The Nation" is a joyful anthem to teenage revealry and one of the best known songs from the album. "Bad Motor Scooter" -- a personal favorite -- has the best phase shifting guitar I've heard. Montrose's guitar can be heard stretching sonically from one speaker to another and then back again with breathtaking results. "Space Station #5", after some weird and pointless electronic noodling that opens the tune, blasts into a scorcher that is heavily reminiscent of Led Zepplin's "Communication Breakdown." Hagar even does his best Robert Plant impression here with no apologies.
If you have never heard Ronnie Montrose's guitar work, perhaps you'll recall The Edgar Winter Group's "Frankenstein" or "Free Ride." Montrose was a member of that band and that is his guitar you hear dominating those songs.
If you are a fan of bands like Zeppelin or Van Halen, than you are bound to love this collection. In subsequent years, Montrose a made a couple of more albums with this line-up with mixed results. Though the Hagar/Montrose collaboration spawned a few more good records, none were as good top to bottom as this debut effort.
The only problem I can see is that if you buy it you will want to play it VERY LOUDLY. And when the aliens ask you, "What are you listening to...?" Just say, "My friends ... THIS is rock 'n' roll."
on January 1, 2002
Arguably the greatest American hard rock album ever, Montrose's 1973 debut is a stunning display of instrumental and vocal prowess. As the prototypical 4-piece - guitar/vocals/bass/drums - they recorded one of the all-time essential slabs of heavy rock. Ronnie Montrose makes a tremendous leap from in-demand session musician to bandleader and legit guitar hero, Sam Hagar (wasn't even Sammy yet) sets the standard for American rock vocals, Bill "the Electric" Church lays down some amazingly fat basslines, and Denny Carmassi smacks his drums with intense precision and manly vigor.
Track by track rundown: 1) Rock the Nation is the boldest possible statement of purpose - fast, super hard, and highly energized. Like all the songs on this album, it features fiery guitar, strong vocals, walloping drums, and solid bass. 2) Bad Motor Scooter starts out with the guitar imitating a revving motorcycle, as Hagar wails about how bad he wants to see his girlie. Seething with energy. Brilliant lead playing. 3) Space Station #5 burns with intensity! Epic multi-tracked soloing, cool sci-fi lyrics about leaving a dying planet, and a crazed hi-speed ending. 4) I Don't Want It - an in-your-face rocker sporting immortal couplets such as "...just quit my job/makin' toothpicks outta logs" and "flowers make me sneeze/and prayin' hurts my knees". Hagar sings like he means it. Starting side two on the original LP, 5) Good Rockin' Tonite revamps the old Elvis hit in a live-wire fashion. The overwhemingly massive 6) Rock Candy has the heaviest drums since When The Levee Breaks. Thick yet fluid bass, titanic drumming, powerful vocals, highly-sexed lyrics, massive Ronnie riffage. Big rock indeed. 7) One Thing On My Mind is a lightweight party song, advancing the literature on chicks and rockin' out and kickin' back. The anthemic 8) Make it Last closes out the album in a more "philosophical" mode, with some trademark Hagar lyrics about growing pains, loss of innocence, blah blah etc.
Montrose is a truly groundbreaking album, wildly influential on future generations of hard rock and metal bands. Incredibly tight, musically exciting, with relatively short songs (for the era) Montrose forged a new, bracingly kinetic sound, fresher than the competition. Eschewing the lengthy jamming of Led Zeppelin or Deep Purple, much less crushingly heavy than Black Sabbath, not needing the theatricality of Alice Cooper or Kiss or Queen, more talented and less over-reaching than Grand Funk, tighter than BTO or The Amboy Dukes, less overtly boogie/blues oriented and more streamlined than Foghat or the James Gang, less ponderous than Rush or Uriah Heep, less myopic than Mahoghany Rush, not at all scary like early BOC, more catchy than Cactus or Crow, harder rocking than the southern rock bands. Note: I honestly adore all (well, most) of the above-mentioned bands, I'm just using them for contrast.
Important precedent - Their brand of commercially viable (yet still diamond-hard) rock and roll was the template for Van Halen. Van Halen used to cover Montrose songs in their LA club days. Montrose actually shares much more with VH: several albums released on Warner Bros Records, produced (with great clarity) by Ted Templeman and engineered by Donn Landee. The influence made it across the Atlantic - Iron Maiden covered at least two different Montrose songs.
Sammy Hager and Ronnie Montrose managed one more album together (1974's fine Paper Money, also including Carmassi) before collapsing under the weight of the two competing gigantic egos, but the debut album is the real classic. Montrose has always had a permanent high spot on my top-ten "desert island disc" list. Perpetually a steady catalog seller for Warners, a remastered cd version is long overdue. At least three songs (tracks 1,2 and 6) on this album still make frequent rotation on most hard rock and classic rock stations, at least on the west coast. Both Hagar and Ronnie Montrose admit it was a career peak. Say, how about a reunion album and US tour while we're dreaming? Crank it on up!
on July 14, 2011
One of the greatest rock guitar albums of all time without a doubt. If you play rock guitar, this should be in your collection. This is a great remaster on the 24 bit version. It is not a huge difference, but the sound quality is better and the hiss low. The booklet is great with new album notes. But, I would have liked an extra track or 2 thrown in for something new. How about a live version of rock the nation or bad motor scooter - or a alternate take on a studio track? That would have made this a true gem. But every track is legendary. A desert island disc for sure.
on September 7, 2000
With this album, Ronnie Montrose, Sammy Hagar and Ted Templeton crystalized a sound which would drive the Los Angeles Rock 'n Roll Studio Scene for decades. Although other bands, most notably, Van Halen, were able to make more of a commercial success of the formula, the concoction first jelled here in 1973. It is telling that both Templeton and Hagar participated in Eddie Van Halen's band. Further, every song on this CD still receives airplay. Finally, I am hard pressed to think of a significant improvement or variation developed by the LA Bands which faltered in filling these footsteps. At the risk of being redundant by writing about songs which everyone with an FM radio has memorized, there are some subtle aspects of this CD which deserve attention. First, the production is clean and precise. There is quite a bit of aural distance between the musicians. Sammy is front and center, with Montrose on the extremes of stereo sound. This is trademark Templeton, and he used this same approach with the Eagles, Doobie Brothers, and of course, Van Halen. Sammy would mature a lot over the years, improving his vocal abilities along the way, even so, he already has all of the elements of a great singer. ROCK CANDY is a classic in large part because Sammy can hold his own against a heavy rhythm section. Please listen to the way he elongates the opening phrases. First word echos with a whole lot of love; there is real yearning in "need", and by the time you look to those above you, you're ready for the guitar break, so you can catch your breath. Naturally, this is a Ronnie Montrose album and he is the star of every song. What technique has been overlooked, I don't know. In play list order: 1. multi-track guitars at octave intervals; 2. best motorcycle sound by an untreated guitar, with panning, no less; 3. multi-multi track guitars with Hendrix-style backward guitar; 4. heavy riffing. [side two] 5. hammer-on pull-off speed solo; 6. delayed guitar, more heavy riffing, more and more multi-tracking; 7. phase shift guitar; 8. doubled guitar (not duplicated guitar, two tracks of the same chords played on two different guitars, by one guitarist). All this would be mere gimmicks if it weren't for the manual dexterity, intonation and tone which Ronnie Montrose achieves. This all amounts to more studio time than most other guitarist at that time were devoting to two albums. By the mid-eighties, it was a prerequisite. If you are interested in owning the music you keep hearing on the radio, or if you are interested in the beginnings of the Los Angeles Rock 'n Roll Studio scene, this CD will be interesting to you.
on January 12, 2008
I have both versions of this cd, the gold and the original cd.
The sound on the gold cd is much clearer, especially the treble on the guitars, snare drums, cymbals and vocals.
It doesn't do much for the bass side of things, but the overall effect is a clearer sound with more clarity in the individual instruments. If you're a Montrose fan and you can get a decent price on this cd, get it! You won't be sorry.
on October 5, 2013
American band from California Montrose were one of those 70'S bands that never made it commercially otherwise they would've made more albums
maybe due to bad Management or cause of the fact that Sammy Hagar left just after 2 years with Montrose so begin a solo career
Sammy Hagar sang on this self titled album and Montrose 2nd album Paper money that was released just 1 year after.
Unbelievable Brilliant Guitar playing by Ronnie Montrose he was one of the best Guitar players of the 70'S
he was up on the list with Jimmy page, Jeff Beck, Ritchie blackmore and Eddie Van halen.
this self titled album released in 1973 has all the Great tracks, every track on this album is excellent
the Drummer for the album Denny Carmassi who plays very similar to John bonham is sometimes called the American John bonham
aswell as the Vocals and of course Ronnie Montrose Guitar playing, incredible album Definitely a classic.
there is 2 versions of this CD
the Warner bros WEA release and the U.K. Rock candy release which is Digital remastered with all new Liner notes about the making of the album
the Warner bros WEA release sounds terrible compared to this new updated Digital remastered version by Rock candy
there is no listing of the new Rock candy release on amazon.com, maybe it's only available on amazon uk
well i have the new Rock candy release which sounds fantastic, each song sounds Great
plus there is also a new booklet with Liner notes explaining the making of the first Montrose album which has interviews with Sammy Hagar etc
very sad to say that Ronnie Montrose took his own life back in early 2012 he was suffering from cancer, very tragic
from a fans point of view i was shocked when i read about it
so every time i listen to his self titled album, paper money or even his 3rd album Warner bros presents
it is emotional listening to those tracks lots of Great guitar playing
so get the new Rock candy release is Definitely the version to buy for any Montrose fan
not this old Warner bros WEA release.
you can easily buy the Rock candy cd off amazon uk
on June 16, 2011
I am reviewing the Audio Fidelity gold HDCD dics. The album itself is a "must have" for classic rock fans. This version is a well mastered CD. It REALLY opens up when you spin it in a HDCD decoding player. It becomes more airy and a little warmer. I was really pleased with this disc .... and then my wife picked up a near mint vinyl LP at a yard sale for 50 cents - I put it on - and well - buy this CD "ONLY IF" you can not get a copy of it on vinyl. CD's - even HDCD'S can not compete with vinyl or SACD's - but this is the best available digital version of this album I have heard. I see the price has jumped - so this may now be out of print- but there is always the used market.
on July 11, 2004
This record turned my entire world upside down. The riff heavy songs jumped off of the record, as if the vinyl couldn't wait to spit out the next note. Every song short and simple, with an intensity that made my walls shake and my knees tremble. I remember feeling nervous and shaky while listening to this record, and as an 8 year old boy, I didn't know why...but I liked it.
I listen to this record at least once a week to this very day. It is a reminder to me that hard rock can still be simple, fun, and yet highly intense. This record takes off like a fireball from hell, and never stops burning right through to the end, some 34 minutes later. With every track, you get an incredible riff to kick them off. From the frenetic "Rock The Nation" riff that kicks off the album... to the staccato, pulsing riff that cuts through "Make It Last", this is arguably the sharpest, most intense hard rock record ever made. With production credits going to renowned producer Ted Templeman, this is still one of the best production efforts I have ever come across. This record was a perfect fit for the "headphones only" radio shows; in which those albums with shifting sounds, or ultra clear keyboards or vocals were played. With its razor sharp riffs, and its alternating speaker shifts, this record fully utilized stereo sound. A record that was way ahead of its time in 1973, when it was released.
The band consisted of the now legendary vocalist Sammy Hagar, guitarist extraordinaire Ronnie Montrose, Bill "the electric" Church on bass guitar, and powerhouse drummer Denny Carmassi rounding out the lineup. This is a young and hungry Sammy Hagar, singing with a fervor that he really could never recapture. I would be willing to say, that if you didn't know who the singer was, Sammy Hagar probably wouldn't even come to mind while listening to the record. Sammy is so young on this record, a mere 26 years old, the first song he ever wrote appears here ("Bad Motor Scooter")!
And then there's Mr. Montrose himself. It's very rare that a guitar player of Montrose's capability, blends so well with his other band members. The riffs, as I've stated previously, are some of the best ever recorded. The solos on this record are also astonishing. I believe that the true sign of a great guitar solo, is being able to "sing" it when its playing. When the solo virtually becomes a part of the lyrics. When you can't hum the song in your head, without humming that incredible guitar solo also. That is what every solo on this record provides the listener. And, even though the guitar parts of this record are so outstanding, the rest of the band never gets left behind or overshadowed. This is the true sign of a talented, and tight band. From drummer Denny Carmassi's bombastic bass drum intro on "Rock Candy", to bassist Bill Church's rock solid foundation throughout each track on the record, this is a group effort. It is difficult to spotlight just one band member here. This is a rare occurrence when a talented artist, with the caliber of a Ronnie Montrose, names his band after himself. I would guess, from the sound of this phenomenal record, that all egos were set aside here. A wonderful thing. This record is a true masterpiece, and should be a blueprint for anyone that wants to play, produce, or just enjoy hard edged Rock 'N' Roll.
If you were wondering if my walls still shake and my knees still tremble when I listen to the record now...well, let me put it this way; I have two young kids at home, so my walls rarely shake anymore - but my knees do tremble, and I'm hoping it's because of the tunes.
As for getting that nervous, shaky feeling when I listen to the record? You betcha. And, do I now know why I feel that way? You betcha.
Great rock 'n' roll...it does it to me every time ~ and this is great rock 'n' roll.
OVERALL RATING: 10 (1-10 scale)