Highway Chile! In a previous post I discussed this Dutch hard rock band’s debut album Storybook Heroes (1983). Having enjoyed that album immensely, I think it is time to take a look at Highway Chile’s follow-up release, For The Wild And Lonely.
For The Wild And Lonely was a six-track EP originally released by 21 Records, a Dutch label. 21 Records was founded by Freddy Haayen, the manager of another Dutch band, Golden Earring. The label existed from ’82 to around ’88.
As with Highway Chile’s debut, For The Wild And Lonely was released in the United States by Mirus Records (a label based out of Cleveland). This is the version I have in my sweaty little hands. The Mirus edition is different from the original 21 Records version. Pale Blue Eyes, for example, has a totally different arrangement.
My Worthless Opinion: One can’t help but compare For The Wild And Lonely to Highway Chile’s beloved Storybook Heroes (an album that always gets great reviews). Immediately, one notices that something is a bit different. Indeed, there’s a new drummer. Yep, Jan Koster replaced Ernst Van Ee on drums, and Koster’s style is much different from Van Ee’s. By different, I mean he’s not as good.
The bad news is that even though a year has passed since Storybook Heroes, Highway Chile can’t escape the sub-par production values and an overall amateurish final product. The good news is the youthful exuberance and the penchant for great ideas still shines through with these starry-eyed Dutchmen. Though the house of cards that is For The Wild And Lonely is always on the edge of total collapse, the guys manage to keep these wobbly and loose tunes from folding like a grocery bag. If you loved Storybook Heroes, you should love For The Wild And Lonely. Comparisons to Def Leppard seem to abound, but do not heed these over zealous words. In 1984, Highway Chile was still not ready for prime time. They were an entirely different animal than Def Leppard, and that can be a good or bad thing depending on your perspective.
Six tracks. All perfectly enjoyable. Things are moving more in an accessible hard rock direction, and doing so with gusto. My absolute fave is Brand New Star. Vocalist Armand Van Der Stigchel rules the roost with his enthusiastic (and somewhat naive performance). As good as Storybook Heroes? Yep. I actually like For The Wild And Lonely a smidgen more. These guys will charm your pants off. My score: A-