Published on September 7th, 2020 | by Justin G.
Damn Yankees: Don’t Tread (Rock Candy, 1992/2020)
One of the last highly successful melodic rock groups of the 1990’s, Damn Yankees was a supergroup featuring guitarist/vocalist Tommy Shaw (Styx), bassist/vocalist Jack Blades (Night Ranger), drummer Michael Cartelloni (Tommy Shaw’s band) and guitarist/wildlife annihilator Ted Nugent. Their 1990 debut was a massive success, and expectations were high for their follow-up release, 1992’s Don’t Tread.
Don’t Tread was written and recorded just after the band had come of a long, successful tour, so it feels more like a band effort than something put together in a studio. Sure, that Shaw/Blades songwriting partnership is obvious, but Nugent played a larger role in the songwriting process for this one, so Don’t Tread is a little rowdier than the first Damn Yankees album, for better (“Don’t Tread”) or worse (“Dirty Dog”). The single “Where You Goin’ Now” is pure Shaw/Blades though, and is every bit as good, if not better than, their earlier megahit “High Enough.” It’s not all magic though, especially towards the back half of the album. Cutting 2-3 songs might have made it a stronger album overall.
Unfortunately Don’t Tread proved to be the band’s final offering, as the musical landscape in the ’90s went through a seismic shift. The band was actually paid out their $1M guarantee not to record a third album. Shaw and Blades would continue to work together as Shaw-Blades and would include some unused Damn Yankees songs on their debut album Hallucination, and obviously the individual band members have kept busy with their own projects over the years.
If you enjoyed the first Damn Yankees album, chances are you’ll like the second one too. It’s not as strong as the debut, but it’s still a very solid melodic rock album and a good example of what the pre-grunge, early ’90s melodic rock sound had to offer.
Reissue Notes: Don’t Tread finally got a reissue this year thanks to the Rock Candy label (who did such a great job reissuing the Damn Yankees debut). They gave it the deluxe remastering treatment they give all their releases, though this is one of those older albums that sounded pretty much perfect as-is. It also includes a pair of live bonus tracks (“Where You Goin’ Now” and “High Enough”) as well as a thick booklet loaded with vintage photos and a new interview with the whole band. There are arguably albums that deserve to be reissued more than this one, but this is still a nice upgrade and a good enough reason to give this album another listen. Besides, you know you already bought the Damn Yankees reissue a few years ago. You might as well complete the set.
Summary: Deluxe reissue of the final Damn Yankees album