Have you ever wondered whether the first five Victory albums are any good? The answer to that question is most assuredly “no”. Nevertheless, I’ve reviewed them. You’ve already read this far. Why not continue?
Victory – Victory (1985)
“Don’t count on me. You got to do it on your own.”
Victory were a German band with an American, Charlie Huhn (ex-Ted Nugent), on vocals. Their self-titled debut arrived in 1985 on CBS Records. If you want to start a collection of Victory albums, this probably isn’t the best place to start. Coming off as not much more than a sweaty bar band short on riffs, Victory were like a mid-level cross between Helix and Krokus. Charlie Huhn’s oversold vocals distract and detract — what with all the hollerin’ and screamin’. Ol’ Charlie would improve on subsequent Victory albums. One reason for the rather ordinary offering here is that guitarist Herman Frank had yet to join the band. He would arrive for album two — giving Victory a much needed shot in the arse. My score: C+
Victory – Don’t Get Mad… Get Even (1986)
“The ashtray’s full and the bed’s unmade. My room looks like a terrorist raid.”
With their second album Don’t Get Mad… Get Even (Metronome Musik), Victory raised the stakes a notch — gearing their generic form of party metal towards American ears. Victory had a pretty simple game plan — maximize their hooks to get played on American radio. Dreams of arena-level stardom were no doubt dancing in their noggins. There is some decent guitar work on Don’t Get Mad… Get Even, calling to mind the fine German engineering of Accept. In fact, guitarist Herman Frank was once a member of Accept. That might explain that bit of guitar nastiness that opens Running Wild. All in all, Don’t Get Mad… Get Even is mildly catchy, though rife with cliché. Song titles include Arsonist Of The Heart and Seven Days Without You Makes One Weak. Not exactly Bill Shakespeare. But hey, I caught myself singing the chorus to Arsonist Of The Heart out loud the other day, so I guess the joke’s on me! Though Don’t Get Mad… Get Even is not exactly a classic, it is an improvement over Victory’s 1985 self-titled debut. Tracks like Not Me certainly had my toes-a-tapping. Check’s In The Mail is another decent cut.
Don’t Get Mad… Get Even was released in the U.S. by Mercenary Records in 1987. Victory enjoyed a small amount of American radio exposure during the eighties. They were one of the few German bands not named Scorpions to do so. Having an American singer no doubt helped their cause. Americans never really had much tolerance for foreign accents or “English as a second language” lyrics (which actually makes Scorpions’ massive U.S. success all the more impressive). My score: B-
Victory – Hungry Hearts (1987)
“When you look in my eyes, dollar signs are all you see.”
Album number three for Victory. Hungry Hearts was released by Metronome Musik in Germany and Rampage Records in the States. The lineup from Don’t Get Mad… Get Even was still intact as Victory continued to steadily improve with each record. Hungry Hearts is a little more polished, a little more catchy, and a little more in step with the L.A. “hair” metal sound that was wildly popular at the time. At this point in their career Victory was pretty much a full-fledged hair band in terms of their sound — though we very rarely think of German bands as being hair bands. (Bonfire is another example.) Though never spectacular, Hungry Hearts is a very consistent, solid album. Extra points awarded for the guy on the far right of the cover photo. Leather duster with no shirt underneath. Timeless elegance. My score: B
Victory – That’s Live (1988)
“If promises were dollars I’d be a millionaire.”
Recorded in Hamburg, That’s Live features selections from each of Victory’s first three studio albums. I’m not sure the world really needed a live album from Victory, but whatevs. I have to say the band sounds very good here. In fact, maybe too good. I wonder how much of this album is truly live? One never knows, as it is very common for live albums to be doctored in the studio. The backing vocals, in particular, raise my suspicions. They sound almost studio quality. So either That’s Live is an album showing flawless live execution or its a complete sham. The liner notes say the album is “absolutely live” so I think I’ll give Victory the benefit of the doubt on this one. Nevertheless, what you get with That’s Live is a quality recording of nine Victory tracks. I have no complaints about the set list because at this point in their career Victory didn’t have any mind-blowing songs in their catalog, nor did they have any total stinkers. They could have picked pretty much any nine songs from their first three albums and wound up with similar results. Note: That’s Live was the final Victory album with Charlie Huhn on vocals. My score: B-
Victory – Culture Killed The Native (1989)
“The four horsemen are riding. It’s too late for regrets.”
Victory climbed to a new level with 1989’s Culture Killed The Native. With a new vocalist in tow (Fernando “el toro loco” Garcia), Victory went to combat with America’s hair band best with melodic tunes like Standing On The Edge and More And More. The obligatory power ballad Lost In The Night also hits its mark. But Culture Killed The Native also features some heavier, more metallic numbers like Power Strikes The Earth and The Warning. This record comes as a bit of a surprise to me because it is so much better than any of Victory’s previous efforts. It was their heaviest to date, but also their most catchy! Other highlights include Always The Same and On The Loose. Any fan of eighties-style metal with great guitar work, strong vocals, and big ass hooks would do well to track down this forgotten nugget! My score: A-
Well there ya go. The first five Victory albums. I’ve yet to get my hands on a copy of Victory’s 1990 album Temples Of Gold. When I do, I’ll add it to this post.