Published on August 6th, 2020 | by Justin G.
Lion: Trouble In Angel City (Bad Reputation, 1989/2020
Some of you may recognize Lion as the band who performed the theme song for the big screen animated Transformers movie. The band, which featured guitarist Doug Aldrich (who would later join Dio and Whitesnake) and Kal Swan (of Tytan), straddled the line between hard rock and heavy metal, and had a sound similar to Dokken, Leatherwolf, Icon and Kick Axe. They never quite made it big, despite having a great sound and plenty of talent.
1989’s Trouble In Angel City was Lion’s second (and sadly, final) full-length album. The band basically continued their “not quite hair metal but not really power metal” style from the debut (1987’s Dangerous Attraction), but you can pick up improvements to the overall sound, especially the songwriting. Doug Aldrich’s solos are absolutely smoking on this one, and Kal Swan has such a powerful and charismatic vocal delivery. “Stranger In The City,” “Hungry For Love” and “Forgotten Sons” are perfect examples of Lion’s sound, and are the highlights of the album, but this is one of those ’80s gems where you can get into pretty much every track. Even the cover of Slade’s “Lock Up Your Daughters,” which could have fallen flat, gets a solid metal makeover.
Unfortunately, Trouble In Angel City ended up being Lion’s final release. With a better label pushing them they might have gone further, but that just didn’t happen. Swan and Aldrich did continue their partnership, regrouping as the straightforward rock band Bad Moon Rising, which is also well worth checking out (see the excellent Full Moon Collection). If you’re a die-hard fan and collector of the ’80s hard rock and heavy metal scene, Trouble In Angel City is a must-have album. It’s an album that fans of bands like Dokken, Kick Axe, Icon, Banshee and Leatherwolf ought to love.
Reissue Notes: After spending the better part of two decades out of print, Trouble In Angel City was finally given a proper reissue this year thanks to the Bad Reputation label out of France (the successors to Axe Killer). As with all Bad Reputation reissues, this one gets a nice remastering. That alone would make it worthwhile, but they also added the ultra-rare Power Love EP as bonus tracks. You could easily spend more than $100 getting these two original releases. The booklet includes some vintage photos and lyrics to some (but perplexingly not all) of the songs. No band essay or interviews, unfortunately. That’s a minor gripe on an otherwise perfect reissue.
Summary: Two out-of-print hard rock gems in one great reissue