mainline riders - shot in the dark
Shot In The Dark
Retroactive Records

The thing that kind of irked me about the 1990’s music was the general lack of good straight-forward, thick n’ meaty rock n’ roll of the hard, three-chords and a pounding rhythm variety. Sure, AC/DC was still releasing albums then, but even that couldn’t seem to fill a void that was due to the influx of the pretentiously “more serious” alternative and modern rock bands that were the vogue then. Fortunately, as we near the end of the first decade of the new century (and millennium, I hasten to add), there’s been a good push to fill that void with newer bands riding the hard rock railway. Gads, I can be so full of myself writing these, can’t I? I digress…

To fans of The Huntingtons, Main Line Riders would be immediately referred to as “Cliffy Huntington’s new band.” It’s Cliff Powell, for those wondering. Sure, there’s that pedigree, but that’s where the comparisons to the former band end, as Shot In The Dark is really a loving tribute to the days when the Sunset Strip ruled rock n’ roll, and power chords, fun solos and a driving rhythm section flowed out of the speakers like so much Mountain Dew.

The first song, “Ride The Main Line”, starts off with the sound of a freight train pulling into a station, then kicks in with a heavy guitar-driven attack. Save for the one power ballad on the disc (“Here I Am”), the entire album is a catchy, infectious one-two-three punch full of power chord riffing, blistering solos and a pounding rhythm that hearken back to the later 80s style of hard rock — AC/DC, Kix, L. A. Guns, X-Sinner and early Bride come flooding to mind as I listen to this entire album. The vocals are handled by one Mike Mayhem, who brings a clean yet smoky delivery to the songs.

Lyrically, the band is for the most part a bit more evangelical than the previous bands Cliff was in. I’m not trying to insult any Huntington fans reading this, neither am I trying to insinuate that they’re less of a band. I’m just stating a mere fact, really. And while I wait for the hate mail to start pouring into my Hotmail inbox, I will mention that, lyrically speaking, the songs deal with themes of getting on the correct path of life (“Ride The Main Line”), finding piece of mind (“Throwin’ Bones To The Wolves”), those who choose to make their own way (“I Walk Alone”), and leaving the past behind (“Put The Hammer Down”). The last cut, “Shot In The Dark”, is a cover of The Junkyard song. Whoever that may be.

Bottom line, me being the child of the 80s that I am, I find Shot In The Dark a great shot in the arm of good, old-fashioned nitty-gritty hard rock. Very good CD, and recommended for fans of Buck Cherry, The Jets, and The Showdown.