Vinyl Rewrite: Helix-Long Way To Heaven(1985)

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).

  1. The Kids Are All Shakin’ (Paul Hackman / Brian Vollmer) – 3:48
  2. Deep Cuts the Knife (Paul Hackman / Bob Halligan, Jr.) – 4:01
  3. Ride the Rocket (Halligan / Brian Vollmer) – 3:24
  4. Long Way to Heaven (Daryl Gray / Paul Hackman / Brian Vollmer) – 3:34
  5. House On Fire (Paul Hackman / Brian Vollmer) – 4:15
  6. Christine (Brent Doerner / Paul Hackman / Brian Vollmer) – 3:34
  7. Without You (Jasmine’s Song) (Brent Doerner / Paul Hackman / Brian Vollmer) – 3:40
  8. School of Hard Knocks (Brent Doerner / Daryl Gray / Paul Hackman / Brian Vollmer) – 4:06
  9. Don’t Touch the Merchandise (Brent Doerner / Brian Vollmer) – 2:47
  10. 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.

Still.

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’

You’re Welcome!

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.

 

 

35 thoughts on “Vinyl Rewrite: Helix-Long Way To Heaven(1985)”

      1. I remember SIxx and Mars reveiwed a bunch of singles and Deep Cuts The Knife was one of them.
        Sixx dug it said it was a little too long but that they were a good band. When I read that I was like ‘take em on tour as openers!”

        Liked by 1 person

      2. That reminds me of something Hit Parader used to do. They’d get rockers to review videos of other bands. I enjoyed that.

        Man if Crue had taken Helix out on tour, maybe that would have been just enough push. The Kiss tour was great but Kiss weren’t that big in Europe at the time. They spent years not touring in Europe at all.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Your right I remember that Hit Parader feature.
        I thought that Helix should have been the opener on the Whitesnake 87-88 tour.
        Why no one took a chance on them is baffling.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Maybe Coverdale said “No, that guy’s hair is too similar to mine.”

        I think there is/was a Canadian stigma in rock music. “If you’re Canadian, you don’t have as much edge as your American counterpart.” It’s bullshit of course as bands like VoiVod have proven. But that thinking was very real.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. I was watching Youtube yesterday and came across a drum cover of Spirit of Radio. Le Studio is abandoned now, but this Canadian guy went up there, set up his drums in the big glass room, and recorded The SPirit of Radio. His drums were a little more ragged than Neil’s but still, he nailed all the big hooks. It was really cool watching this guy play it right there in the room we all know from the photographs. Can’t believe that building is just abandoned!

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Good album. Got it for Christmas around 86 or 87. Unfortunately not quite as good as the previous four, second side lags a bit as you said. It was around the time hard rock bands had a difficult time following the big hit album. Quiet Riot… Twisted Sister… and Helix.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good call on bands trying to find that next hit to keep the wheels turning so to speak.
      Panic I’m sure set in for many a act when the sales dried up.
      Helix kinda slugged there way through this one and really hit one out of the park with 87s Wild in the Streets which was a little too late for whatever reason. No lack of effort from the band themselves that is.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. No, they tried, they really tried. Some of those bands like QR tried to repeat past formula and failed. Others like Twisted took some chances. And I’ll be reviewing the chances they took on the anniversary of Come Out and Play.

        I also like what you said about cover, colours and artwork. All true. I also like the little helix that Vollmer is holding in his hand.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Look forward to that review mikey. I need to revisit that record by Twisted at some point.
        QR started having troubles by repeating the Slade cover tune on Condition Critical.
        QR 3 Had some ok moments but they were out of gas by than.
        Helix still had gas in the tank but no record company push in the States didn’t help either.

        Like

  2. Nice wrote up, Deke. I had tracked down a couple of Helix albums and the thin production was my complaint with them. Like you say, it was the thing in the 80s… and albums suffered as a result.

    Liked by 1 person

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