Great Metal Albums of 1984: Keel- Lay Down the Law

I’m now back in the UK and after getting over my worst ever case of jet lag, it’s back to business as usual here on 80smetalman’s Blog. Obediently following my list of albums for 1984, upon my return, the next one up just happened to be “Lay Down the Law” by Keel. This was one where back in the day, I listened to a couple of times and thought, “It’s okay,” before putting it to one side and hardly bothering with it since. As a result, the question as to whether I would be of the same opinion thirty plus years later came into play now.

Now, I know you’re all waiting with baited breath right now to know whether or not I am of the same opinion. Well, the answer is that the album is still just okay, although on some listens it manages to claw its way into the ‘Good’ region in my mind. In dissecting the album, let me start with the not so positives. First, there’s the opener, “Thunder and Lightening,” which is at the bottom of the best song rating list on the album. I think Keel try to hard to be that “We’re going to come out and kick your ass” type band with it. Unfortunately, they do not convince me. The other not so positive is the power ballad, “Princess of Illusion.” Now I know that many glam type metal bands have their token ballad on every album and maybe this was what the band was going for here. However, it will not even come close to any of my favourite power ballads.

Keel’s strength is playing straight ahead heavy metal. Fortunately, they do this rather well on the remainder of the songs. The title track and “Speed Demon” do well to make you forget the opener and that momentum is only slightly killed by the power ballad. Fortunately, the best song on the album comes right after it. “Born Ready” is Keel doing straight forward metal at it’s very best and I have to say that they should have followed that format all through the album. The following track, “Metal Generation,” does follow on very nicely.

“Till Hell Freezes Over” is  an attempt to emulate Dio or the Ronnie James Dio era of Black Sabbath. It’s starts out like it’s going to be another power ballad but before I think, “Oh, not again,” the song goes up two gears into more straight ahead metal. While it’s not quite equal to what Ronnie would have done, it’s a pretty good effort on Keel’s part. Besides, it has the best guitar solo on the album. “Tonight You’re Mine” takes things back to more familiar territory although the song is more speed metal here. Then they close with another brave effort, a cover of the Rolling Stones classic, “Let’s Spend the Night Together.” Covers can be rather hit or miss and in this case, Keel put a good metal touch on the song. Would Mick and Keith approve? That’s up to them. I do like the bit at the end where Ron sings a little of the title track before advising the listener of their Miranda rights.

My honest conclusion on “Lay Down the Law” is that Keel weren’t sure what they wanted to be with the album. They try different things on different songs and some work while others don’t. If I could have advised them back in 1984, I would have told them to stick with the straight forward metal because that’s what they seem to do best.

Track Listing:

  1. Thunder and Lightning
  2. Lay Down the Law
  3. Speed Demon
  4. Princess of Illusion
  5. Born Ready
  6. Metal Generation
  7. Till Hell Freezes Over
  8. Tonight You’re Mine
  9. Let’s Spend the Night Together

Keel

Ron Keel- guitar, vocals

Marc Ferrari- lead guitar, backing vocals

Bryan Jay- lead guitar, backing vocals

Kenny Chaisson- bass, backing vocals

Bobby Marks- drums, backing vocals

If I were giving marks, I would give Keel a B- for their debut album. “Lay Down the Law” does have some points they should not have touched but there was some definite potential here. Would they follow on this? That question will be answered when I visit future Keel albums.

Next post: Autograph- Sign In Please

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4 Responses to “Great Metal Albums of 1984: Keel- Lay Down the Law”

  1. I don’t think I know any of these songs at all!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. […] Source: Great Metal Albums of 1984: Keel- Lay Down the Law | 80smetalman’s Blog […]

    Liked by 1 person

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