Review: Circus Of Power – ‘Vices’

“Vices” 1990

By Alle Royale

Circus Of Power were a bunch of heavily tattooed beer drinkers and hell raisers that had everything to match the global success of Guns ’n’ Roses, but never made it. Maybe because they were from New York and arrived late in Los Angeles, rock ’n’ roll capital of the world; maybe because they had the wild looks of five Hells Angels, and nothing of the glitter sprinkled bands of those days. Their tale is the one of the glorious losers that left behind them a lot of remorse and a legacy of three great albums.
‘Vices’ is the second of the lot, and I chose this one over the others, just because it’s screaming from the stereo in this right moment. Listening to these songs, some twenty three years later, you have to realize that they stood the test of time incredibly well, and the reason is because Circus Of Power were true to themselves, and their music was alive and honest. If they were going to play some Stones riff, they made sure to rip them off the right way, with those ‘keep it real’ attitude and sound; when they attack the listeners with the primitive fury of a punk gang, they don’t mellow it down with some Desmond Child’s throwaway ideas. Those were their real musical influences, and they wore them on their sleeves, not faking it. Just take a look at the cover artwork, compare it with those of other so called rock bands of the era, and you realize they were a no compromise sort of dudes; nothing about that cover it’s screaming “ buy me”, but “trust me or fuck off”. ‘Vices’ is a record with no weak side, and COP were a band ahead of their times; they understood, way before the grunge phenomenon broke out, that you cannot rock with piles of synthesizers and studio gimmicks, you have to snort and drink those smoking distorted sounds for real. It’s almost funny how every damn song on this record, it’s a potential hit single, but no one seemed to care at the time. There’s a track on it called ‘Los Angeles’, and for me it sums up their attitude pretty well: no sing-along glam anthem a la Poison and no guitar frenzy show-off, but a devilish, bourbon flavoured, indolent blues, with some tasty pentatonic licks that will give you the measure of their collective talents. Dig it. 

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