Helix is a great band to write about Folks. They have endured many ups and downs in there 40 plus years of existence which is impressive, to say the least as well as losing a valuable member of the group (Paul Hackman) in an accident back in 1992.
Yet Brian Vollmer/Daryl Gray and Fritz soldier on today which you have to give them total respect for as they still take their craft seriously.
Back in 1985 a lot of us Canucks eagerly awaited what Vollmer and company had cooked up there sleeve in regards to the brilliant 1984 release Walkin The Razors Edge which of course featured the biggie hit Rock You.
Helix was serious news in 1984-86 as they hit the ground running and hopping on tours with Quiet Riot/Whitesnake/Accept and others in the United States but in Canada they were boosted up to headliner status by the Razor Edges success so when Long Way To Heaven dropped into record stores shortly after in the summer of 85 Helix even brought there arena rock show to Thunder Bay which of course we all went to and it was pretty packed(3-4000) would be my guess. Long Way To Heaven went to Number 1 in Sweden!
So yeah Helix was big news…
So it was a no brainer purchase when I was vinyl hunting a few weeks back and scored Long Way To Heaven on record for a very decent price!
To be honest I have not heard this album in years but some of these tracks are like ear candy and they have stuck in my head for decades! (Keep Reading).
- The Kids Are All Shakin’ (Paul Hackman / Brian Vollmer) – 3:48
- Deep Cuts the Knife (Paul Hackman / Bob Halligan, Jr.) – 4:01
- Ride the Rocket (Halligan / Brian Vollmer) – 3:24
- Long Way to Heaven (Daryl Gray / Paul Hackman / Brian Vollmer) – 3:34
- House On Fire (Paul Hackman / Brian Vollmer) – 4:15
- Christine (Brent Doerner / Paul Hackman / Brian Vollmer) – 3:34
- Without You (Jasmine’s Song) (Brent Doerner / Paul Hackman / Brian Vollmer) – 3:40
- School of Hard Knocks (Brent Doerner / Daryl Gray / Paul Hackman / Brian Vollmer) – 4:06
- Don’t Touch the Merchandise (Brent Doerner / Brian Vollmer) – 2:47
- Bangin’ Off-A-The Bricks (Brent Doerner / Brian Vollmer) – 3:15
I will add that when I dropped the needle on SIde A, I was pleasantly surprised how good of a song Kids Are All Shakin was and still is. That song oozes fun simple yet effective coolness. The thing is Helix had the talent and good tunes. Good lead and backing vocals a good rhythm section and two lead guitarists (Brent Doerner and Hackman) who were never given the due they got.
Deep Cuts The Knife was the biggie single from this album and its a great song that should have pushed this album over the top as it came out in a time when other bands were doing the ‘Cheese Thing'(not naming names).
Ride The Rocket! The title says it all! Ok so Helix dipped into the Cheese on this one lyrically big time and it’s corny as the chorus is once you have heard it won’t leave your brain. In my case, it never left and is still etched in the upper regions of my noggin. Laugh all you want but my pals Tbone and his two brothers(Darr and Rugg) would agree with me!
‘Hey whaddya say, Let’s Ride The Rocket
Climb aboard with me, it’s in the pocket
Hey, let’s play, let’s Ride The Rocket
Say it’s ok, reach in the pocket’
Side 1 ends with the title track and an ass-kicker in This House Is On Fire which has Helix firing on all 4 cylinders.
Side 2 begins with Christine which is a mid-tempo rocker after which Without You is another one of those ballad like tunes along the lines of Deep Cuts The Knife which doesn’t tread too lightly on sap. A pretty decent tune about Vollmer’s daughter I believe.
School of Hard Knocks has a cool catchy chorus as Doerner plays some cool leads. Nothing fancy just getting down to business!
Don’t Touch The Merchandise is Helix meeting Van Halen. The big opening guitar riff that goes into Fritz doing that double bass drum thing.
Album closer Bangin Off-A-The Bricks is another Helix romper of a track bunch of guitar action between Brent and Paul. No fooling around here folks. Nothing to fancy here. Straight ahead no-nonsense rock. I have to ask who the hell came up with the title of this song?
VINYL REWRITE VERDICT:
Long Way To Heaven has aged pretty decently. The production is a little thin when I hear it now but back in 1985 that was the deal. Side 1 of Long Way has stronger material. I think by tracklisting if you would have traded spots with Ride The Rocket by moving that to Side 2 and moving Without You to Side 1 it would be a very solid listen of the first 5 tracks!
Side 2 lags a little behind Side 1 but overall Helix had to do what they had to do back then.
I will add I always loved this cover. Nice use of color schemes and that’s a great pic of Helix. I wish they would have included some liner notes lyrics etc but you can’t always get what you want.