It is widely acknowledged that the Tygers of Pan Tang were one of the best of the bands to emerge from the NWOBHM movement, set for mega stardom that never really came through.
Tygers Of Pan Tang – Ambush (Remastered)
Release Date: 18 September 2020
Words: Paul Monkhouse
Instead of filling stadiums and arenas all over the world like peers Iron Maiden and Def Leppard, the band seemed to stall in their stratospheric trajectory. Hampered by record company issues and line-up changes that saw members come and go, including hot shot six stringer John Sykes leaving to audition for Ozzy Osbourne.
A man with focus and determination, founding member and guitarist Robb Weir battled through these barriers and, after a one or two false starts, brought the Tygers roaring back into action in 2000 after a triumphant mainstage reunion for the band at Germany’s massive Wacken Festival.
Since then the band have released a string of excellent albums that have continued in the large footsteps of their early classics and that have shown, like fellow road warriors Praying Mantis and Diamond Head, that there is certainly a lot of gas in their tanks still.
This revamped and remastered reissue of their 2012 album ‘Ambush’ has all the hallmarks of what made them great, mixing classic hard rock with plenty of melody and hooks.
With the original release produced by the late, great Chris Tsangarides, this newly polished version adds another layer of sonic sheen and throws in four bonus tracks as an added hook to both the casual and committed fan.
From the brilliant Rodney Matthews cover, the choice of different coloured vinyl (along with the CD/download option) and including extensive new sleeve notes, the package is a real treat for anyone who appreciates both the halcyon era of the NWOBHM so beloved by Lars Ulrich et al and muscular guitar driven rock.
Opener ‘Keeping Me Alive’ is classic Tygers, full of passion and grit, the quintet kicking up a storm.
The twin guitarwork of Weir and Dean Robertson, on his last outing with the band, sees solos flying and is full of exquisite twists and turns. On top of this, Jacopo Meille’s vocals shine and bring their own fuel to the flame.
‘These Eyes’ is another pounding hard rocker and ‘One of a Kind’ shows off the great production by Tsangarides, its irresistible verses with an almost latter-day Quo feel in the layered melodies.
Next up, ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Dream’ is powerful, punchy, relentless and as wild and massive as being in the ring with a dozen Muhammed Ali’s. Locomotive drums and bass and a solo that slices you to pieces with its claws, this is the Tygers at their best.
So euphoric a track that you can almost feel Robb Weir grin.
Never afraid to throw the odd curveball into the mix, Spanish guitar and castanets appear in the sensual ‘She’ and ‘Hey Suzie’ features a Peter Frampton style talk box subtly in the background, all adding colour and imagination.
It is a lasting tribute to both band and producer that the album stands up so well, buoyed by some great song writing and performances matched with a mix that not just acts as a conduit for the songs but gives them a vitality and urgency that still sounds fresh eight years on.
With not a scent of filler anywhere, you could randomly pick a song only to come up with something certain to pique the imagination.
‘Man on Fire’ is a fun romp that really swings with another tasty guitar solo, ‘Play To Win’ fast paced full on and heads down, like doing a tonne up on a Triumph and ‘Burning Desire’ slow start power ballad bursting into an epic widescreen power trip, all longing vocals and swaggering guitarwork.
Echoes of Def Leppard in structure, mixed with the Tygers magic, the latter is the most commercial track the band had done in a long time and a wake-up call to those who may have written them off years ago.
The album closes with brace of songs that really show off the rhythm section of drummer Craig Ellis and new boy on the bass, Gav Gray. The two click together like lifelong partners on the dynamic ‘Mr. Indispensable’ and no nonsense, heads down relentless rocker ‘Speed’, which finds itself vying to be the theme to the long hoped for Keanu Reeves sequel.
It is a breathless way to finish the set, but the additional bonus tracks give a little more bang for your buck and the pick of these is studio outtake ‘Cruel Hands of Time’.
You have to wonder why it did not make the original cut, as it motors along very nicely thank you and is one of the high points of this re-release.
With live versions of ‘Keeping Me Alive’ and ‘These Eyes’, and a beautifully raw demo of ‘Rock n Roll Dream’ wrapping things up, this is one album well worth revisiting.
Still too wild to be tamed, this is a prime slice of the Tygers power and would be a welcome addition to any connoisseur’s collection.
01. Keeping Me Alive
02. These Eyes
03. One Of A Kind
04. Rock’n’Roll Dream
06. Man On Fire
07. Play To Win
08. Burning Desire
09. Hey Suzie
10. Mr. Indispensable
12. Cruel Hands Of Time (studio outtake)
13. Keeping Me Alive (live)
14. These Eyes (live)
15. Rock’n’Roll Dream (demo)