Urge Overkill - Exit The Dragon

Urge Overkill
Exit The Dragon

Released 1995 on Geffen
Reviewed by Dave Furgess, 19/03/2007ce

1. Jaywalkin'
2. The Break
3. Need Some Air
4. Somebody Else's Body
5. Honesty Files
6. This Is No Place
7. The Mistake
8. Take Me
9. View Of The Rain
10. Last Night/Tomorrow
11. Tin Foil
12. Monopoly
13. And You'll Say
14. Digital Black Epilogue

This was the album that was supposed to vault Urge Overkill into the ultra big leagues. The Chicago based trio were pretty hot property circa 1992-93. Their hit album "Saturation" was all over the place, even turning up on the shitty local FM stations in my area (New Haven, CT.) "Exit The Dragon" was the highly anticipated follow up, which unfortunately stiffed and all but killed the band. They split not long after it's release. (the group reformed in 2004 without drummer Blackie O.)

A better title for the album would have "The Return Of King Roeser" as the group's initial lead singer grabbed control of the group once again and returned them to their early hard edge sound, with just a little bit of "Saturation's" gloss remaining. Nash Kato would take a somewhat secondary role as he did in the early days of the group (to many new fans dismay.) Roeser rose to the occasion by coming up with a brace of tense, full tilt rockers that carried the album. Many critics hated "Exit The Dragon" and did their best to bury the group. Yet to me the record was a much more consistent effort than the much loved "Saturation."

The opener "Jaywalkin'" is a scathing, rough and ready rocker that finds King Roeser in a disturbing frame of mind, convinced he is evil.It is followed by "The Break" (the U.S. single), this song is just fantastic, it begins with some primo Stones influenced guitar and hooks galore, The King is even more pissed off on this one than the opener, screaming "everything ends in a heartache, I can't get a break." This is one of the great rock & roll songs of the last decade. Even the normally good natured Nash Kato is on a bum trip with the following number "Need Some Air", which is a bitchin', unhinged rocker. Kato also handles the next track "Somebody Else's Body" which has a neat acoustic, shuffle beat, growling synth and another dose of despair ridden lyrics and even a touch of brass.

"Honesty Files" sets the dial back to 1991, sung by King Roeser, it features tough, meaty chords and wicked backbeat. Roeser continues burning with "This Is No Place" which is an ominous slab of hard rock that seems to speak of the futility of "one night stands", this is a fantastic number that ranks with Urge's best. "The Mistake" is a queasy, road weary ballad that is somewhat lighthearted in style but seems to be yet another warning sign to steer clear of hard drugs. I thought this song was a throwaway in the beginning but it really grows on you, I really like it's loose, experimental feel.

We're right back in business with "Take Me" which is another bitch/rocker by Roeser with help from Nash on vocals, the hooks are immense, the guitar is pure thunder, "take me god-dammit." The next number "View Of The Rain" is the high point of the album, sung by Nash Kato, this is an extremely moving ballad that is both depressing and uplifting at the same time. Kato seems to be singing from the heart and you can feel it. Musically it is just beautiful, this may just be the group's greatest ever song, the psychedelic fadeout guitar solo is dazzling, and the electric piano is also a nice touch.

"Last Night/Tomorrow" brings things back to the garage, this is another pleasing King Roeser rocker that abruptly shifts into a full flight scorcher sung by Nash, drummer Blackie O. bangs the skins like a young Keith Moon, the track ends in a confusing acid drenched mess. "Tin Foil" (probably another drug song) is yet one more King Roeser winner with a passionate vocal from Eddie, nice harmony vocals in the song's last section, and bright melodic guitar work throughout the number( and really on the whole album for that matter.) "Monopoly" is a somewhat routine Nash Kato folk-rocker that might be the album's only non-killer track (but it is certainly not bad by any means.)

"And You'll Say" opens with some studio chatter before it shifts effortlessly into another (you guessed it) King Roeser keeper. Long Live The King!!! (What became of Eddie's post-Urge group Electric Airlines?) The record's closing number "Digital Black Epilogue" is a true curveball, a somewhat C&W influenced duet with Nash Kato and an uncredited female singer (at least I couldn't find her name in the liner notes.) It's a rather confusing number that shifts from side to side, it ends in a sea of noise and distortion. I don't really know what Urge were trying to do with this number, it ends the record on an interesting but very odd note.

I guess one could say this album could have been edited down to a more coherent 45 minutes or so, but I really don't mind the missed takes and limited excess. Most modern rock records lack any sort of experimental edge, so a few oddball moments here and there are certainly not going to rattle my cage. In my opinion "Exit The Dragon" is Urge Overkill's finest record, let's hope it's not their last!

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