Great Metal Albums of 1986: Racer X- Street Lethal

Reflecting back to the 1980s, I have come to the conclusion that it is easier for American bands to get noticed in Great Britain than it is for British bands to get noticed in the US. Supporting my claim is the 1986 debut album, “Street Lethal,” from Los Angeles based metal band, Racer X. It was a good British friend who first enlightened me about this band and having been in the UK for a few months by then, I assumed they were British. My good friend informed me that Racer X were in fact, American.

I love it when I can’t pigeon hole a band. Wikipedia calls this album speed metal and true, there are songs which could be called that. The title cut is one such song as is “Loud and Clear.” However, those tracks alone aren’t enough to call Racer X speed metal. Plus, their image is one of a LA glam metal band. Then there is my choice for favourite track on the album, “Into the Night,” which is definitely more in the realm of Judas Priest. Although unlike Ded Engine, lead singer Jeff Martin, does not sound as if he has a head cold. On top of that, guitarist Paul Gilbert tries to imitate one Yngwie J. Malmesteen on his guitar solo. In fact, there is an instrumental towards the end of the album called “Y.R.O.,” which is said to stand for “Yngwie Rip Off.” At least they have a sense of humour.

One song, which successfully bridges the speed metal label, Judas Priest influence and Yngwie type guitar solo is “Blowin’ Up the Radio.” All three of those elements come together very well to make a very good song. On the other hand, I would say that “Hotter Than Fire” could be the most home grown song on the album but then Gilbert spoils my theory with another Yngwie style guitar solo. That’s not a bad thing, really.

“On the Loose,” while not a bad track, isn’t anything noteworthy either. It’s not quite filler but I would call it more of a supporting track. “Dangerous Love” goes back to a more speed metal sound and “Getaway” is a more Priest influenced metal tune and of course, an Yngwie influenced guitar solo. That brings me to the closer, “Rock It.” After several listens, I’m not sure what to make of the song. I like the catchy, soulful intro. If anything, the band abandons the Judas Priest influence and tries to be more like Van Halen. The band plays it very well and I take my hat off to the rhythm section especially. But sorry Jeff Martin, you’re not David Lee Roth. His vocal style is much more suited to the other songs.

Track Listing:

  1. Frenzy
  2. Street Lethal
  3. Into the Night
  4. Blowin’ Up the Radio
  5. Hotter Than Fire
  6. On the Loose
  7. Loud and Clear
  8. Y.R.O.
  9. Dangerous Love
  10. Getaway
  11. Rock It
Racer X

Jeff Martin- vocals

Paul Gilbert- guitar

John Alderete- bass

Harry Gschoessher- drums

Note: As you can see, there are five in the picture but four people in the credits. This is because they would add a second guitarist on the next album.

If Racer X were some sort of come and go in an instant type band, then they wouldn’t have remained in my memory for thirty years plus. It’s been a long time since I actually listened to “Street Lethal” and though I wouldn’t rate is as high as some of the classics from 1986, it’s still a very good listen.

Next post: Joshua- Surrender

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31 Responses to “Great Metal Albums of 1986: Racer X- Street Lethal”

  1. This band got lots of press in the guitar mags at the time. Jeff Martin a few years later ended up as the Badlands drummer after Singer left. Cool writeup and flashback.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I will hit Like on anything that has Paul Gilbert on guitar. YEAH! Nevermind categorization, this stuff is fun!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Always wanted a copy.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. The only thing I know about this band is Paul Gilbert was in it.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I really like the YRO tune. Gilbert is a helluva player and he gets to show it there, huh?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Local band. I used to go see these guys frequently at all the clubs: The Roxy, The Country Club, et al.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I’ve always loved the line about “getting down and dirty no Mr. Clean” in Hotter than Fire. It’s so fucking dumb it crosses all the way around into brilliance.

    Liked by 1 person

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