TYGERS OF PAN TANG – Ambush [Expanded Remastered Reissue 2020]
Originally released in 2012, “Ambush” might now be seen as the first in a run of three career redefining albums for rocking 80s titans TYGERS OF PAN TANG; although their previous album, 2008’s Animal Instinct – the first to feature vocalist Jacopo Miele – marked the band’s recovery from the mid-career doldrums of non-starting albums, it was ”Ambush”, and the band’s rekindling of their relationship with mega producer Chris Tsangarides that really saw the Tygers finding it’s creative feet and confidence again.
They even managed to sleeve the album in a Rodney Matthews-painted cover, a sure sign that things were on the improve a camp Tyger…
A killer melodic, hard rocking album now expanded & remastered with previously unreleased material from the same sessions.
Remastered for this 2020 reissue, the first thing to note about Ambush now is just how consistent in feel it is to it’s two successor albums, 2016’s self-titled ‘Tygers of Pan Tang’ and ‘Ritual’ from 2018.
This is truly the sound of a band reforging it’s legacy, even if guitarist Dean Robertson was on the way out before those two later albums would be released, to be replaced by the now-also-departed Micky Crystal.
The key to this is Miele, who bestrides ”Ambush” with supreme confidence and no little class. His vocals take ostensibly good songs like ‘She’ and ‘Burning Desire’ to higher levels, whilst he handles the throwback rocker ‘Hey Suzie’ (with it’s cheeky nod to Jess Cox-era fave Suzie Smiled) with just the right amount of respect whilst reminding the listener that it’s his mic in 2012 and no-one else’s.
The thought of a TYGERS OF PAN TANG album now with anyone else at the vocal helm seems almost unthinkable.
Opener ‘Keeping Me Alive’ is classic Tygers, full of passion and grit, the quintet kicking up a storm. The twin guitarwork of Weir and Robertson, on his last outing with the band, sees solos flying and is full of exquisite twists and turns. On top of this, Meille’s vocals shine and bring their own fuel to the flame.
‘These Eyes’ is another pounding hard rocker and ‘One of a Kind’ shows off the great production by Tsangarides, its irresistible verses with an almost latter-day Quo feel in the layered melodies.
Next up, ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Dream’ is powerful, punchy, relentless and as wild and massive as being in the ring with a dozen Muhammed Ali’s. Locomotive drums and bass and a solo that slices you to pieces with its claws, this is the Tygers at their best.
Never afraid to throw the odd curveball into the mix, Spanish guitar and castanets appear in the sensual ‘She’ and ‘Hey Suzie’ features a Peter Frampton style talk box subtly in the background, all adding colour and imagination.
It is a lasting tribute to both band and producer that the album stands up so well, buoyed by some great song writing and performances matched with a mix that not just acts as a conduit for the songs but gives them a vitality and urgency that still sounds fresh eight years on.
With not a scent of filler anywhere, you could randomly pick a song only to come up with something certain to pique the imagination.
‘Man on Fire’ is a fun romp that really swings with another tasty guitar solo, ‘Play To Win’ fast paced full on and heads down, like doing a tonne up on a Triumph and ‘Burning Desire’ slow start power ballad bursting into an epic widescreen power trip, all longing vocals and swaggering guitarwork.
Echoes of DEF LEPPARD in structure, mixed with the Tygers magic, the latter is the most commercial track the band had done in a long time and a wake-up call to those who may have written them off years ago.
The album closes with brace of songs that really show off the rhythm section of drummer Craig Ellis and Gav Gray. The two click together like lifelong partners on the dynamic ‘Mr. Indispensable’ and no nonsense, heads down relentless rocker ‘Speed’, a bona fide NWoBHM rifferama.
The unreleased bonus tracks include a couple of live numbers (”Keeping Me Alive” and ”These Eyes”) a studio outtake – ‘Cruel Hands of Time’, a very cool rocker – and a demo version of ‘Rock n’Roll Dream’, all making this quite a nice proposition if you had the original already, and giving you a little added incentive to add this reissue to your collection if for some reason you’ve omitted to purchase it thus far.
This revamped and remastered reissue of TYGERS OF PAN TANG ‘Ambush’ has all the hallmarks of what made them great, mixing classic hard rock with plenty of melody and hooks.
With the original release produced by the late, great Chris Tsangarides, this newly polished version adds another layer of sonic sheen and throws in four bonus tracks as an added hook to both the casual and committed fan.
It’s a killer band and a killer record.
01 – Keeping Me Alive
02 – These Eyes
03 – One of a Kind
04 – Rock ‘N’ Roll Dream
05 – She
06 – Man on Fire
07 – Play to Win
08 – Burning Desire
09 – Hey Suzie
10 – Mr. Indispensable
11 – Speed
12 – Cruel Hands Of Time (Studio Outtake)
13 – Keeping Me Alive (Live)
14 – These Eyes (Live)
15 – Rock ‘N’ Roll Dream (Demo Version)
Jacopo Meille – Vocals
Robb Weir – Guitars
Dean Robertson – Guitars
Gavin Gray – Bass
Craig Ellis – Drums & Percussion