Released: 2000, Shrapnel Records
I remember last August when EvilG suggested that I choose Racer X’s Street Lethal for the following month’s Classic Pick review (*See Sept. ‘99 reviews). In that review, I wrote... "It would be great if these guys could realize just how good they were at this type of music and reunite."... Coincidentally, the same week I wrote that review, it was announced that the band had indeed reunited and would be recording a new CD for their old label Shrapnel Records. Needless to say, I looked forward to its release with a great deal of anticipation. But, of course, even though Technical Difficulties was released in Japan before Christmas, it took over FIVE MONTHS before being released in North America. Being a Metal fan on this continent really BLOWS!!! (Though, I’m sure most of you reading this would agree.)
Well, the summer’s here and so’s my copy of the new Racer X disc. (It’s about friggin’ time!!! I hate snow!!!) And while Technical Difficulties isn’t quite the awe-inspiring CD I had hoped to hear from the newly reformed Gods of Progressive Glam® (That’s MY term!!! Don’t even think about stealing it!!!), it’s still pretty damn good. As I’m sure you all know, Racer X consists of guitar-god Paul Gilbert (ex-Mr. Big), current Judas Priest drummer Scott Travis, bassist John Alderete, and vocalist Jeff Martin. I have no idea why guitarist Bruce Bouillet (who appeared on all the albums except Street Lethal...) didn’t take part in this "reunion" CD. It’s too bad because he and Gilbert used to play some amazing harmonies.
Anyway, the disc starts off with the quasi-Pantera-esque intro "Phallic Tractor" which segues into "Fire of Rock", an up-tempo tune in the vein of classic Racer X. Other great tracks include "Snakebite" (the best one, in my opinion...), "Miss Mistreater", "God of the Sun", and another Pantera inspired song, "17th Moon" (Paul Gilbert kicks Dimebag Darrel’s ass!!!). And what Racer X album would be complete without a technically intense instrumental ("Technical Difficulties") and a guitar "show off" piece ("B.R.O.")? Also included are studio versions of "Poison Eyes" and "Give it to Me", which originally appeared on the Live: Extreme Volume II CD as "previously unreleased" tracks. (Good songs, but the live versions are better.)
Possibly the worst thing about Technical Difficulties is the cover art. A woman standing at the bottom of a swimming pool watching a portable TV isn’t exactly what I was expecting to see on a Racer X cover. Why didn’t the band go with another car-themed album cover like on their previous CD’s??? And my other question is, now that Scott Travis is a member of Judas Priest, why didn’t they record another unreleased Tipton/Halford/Downing tune like they did on Second Heat with "Heart of A Lion"??? That would’ve been so friggin’ cool.
So other than those couple of minor complaints, Technical Difficulties is a very good disc which tends to get better with each listen. Having been a Racer X fan for nearly a decade, I really hope the guys intend to continue with the band in between their regular gigs. But next time, PLEASE put a car on the cover!!!