Heavy metal was never quite the same after the release of this album in 1973. US bands started to challenge the prominance of the British heavies like Sabbath, Purple and Zeppelin and "newer" bands like Van Halen, Y&T, Dokken etc owed much to this ground-breaking release. Brilliant production by Ted Templeman allowed Ronnie Montrose's blistering guitar to blast out classic originals like "Bad Motor Scooter", "Space Station #5" and "Rock the Nation" and a blazing cover of "Good Rockin'Tonite".
Unusually for the period almost all of the tracks were fast, and introduced a youthful Sammy Hagar with his throat-wrenching vocals. "Rock Candy" has one of the most recognisable drum intros in rock. It's not rocket science but when the guitar riff comes in it unleashes a power that only Black Sabbath ever matched from such a minimal combination. "Make it Last" also featured basic but huge-sounding drums courtesy of Denni Carmassi.
"Bad Motor Scooter" in its earliest outings went straight into the song. It was a stroke of genius for Ronnie Montrose to replicate the roar of a motor bike revving through the gears to take us into Hagar's great vocal. This has to be one of the most memerable rock intros EVER! Intros play a big role throughout the album with "Space Station" also having its place in rock history (am I the only one who thinks the main riff was inspired by "Paranoid?)
What is surprising is this was the bands first recording and they weren't following any trend. Ronnie Montrose was already a critically acclaimed guitarist and played with Edgar Winter on "They only come out at Night" and Van Morrison's "Tupelo Honey" But he became dissatisfied being a sideman and the rest, as they say, is history! But "Montrose" is not just one of the "best rock debuts ever" (as it is frequently called), it is one of the "best rock albums ever", period ! Contrary to the "poor sales" other reviewers refer to, "Montrose" achieved gold record status in 1977 in the States.
Every track sparkles with excitement and drive and, as mentioned elsewhere, there are hardly any overdubs. It's a tribute to the production that this album sounds every bit as good 30-plus years on! This new remaster offers slightly improved sound - clearer definition with more volume than the original Warner release. The superb booklet notes should be the deciding factor in going for this version rather than the slightly cheaper older CD.
The only drawback is the short playing time, but as older readers will be aware the louder the tracks were in the good old days of vinyl the less you could fit onto a disc. Some of these tracks are available on the "Best of", but Hagar left after the excellent, but more restrained, follow up "Paper Money", and the band went into decline. I'd urge you to buy this together with the follow up, rather than take the compilation option.