Born to Fly (Frontiers Music)

Jetboy have always been a bit of an oddity in the California rock music scene. Thanks in part to frontman Mickey Finn’s punk image, and some stylistic shifts, people have struggled to pigeonhole them. The singer’s hair has resembled that of Jean Beauvoir (Crown of Thorns/Plasmatics) and Wattie Buchan (The Exploited) in the past, and that sleaze-punk cred was only amped up when Hanoi Rocks bassist Sami Yaffa joined in the late ’80s, just before original member Todd Crew tragically died in the hotel room of Guns N’ Roses’ Slash.

So the Jetboy story so far is full of ups and downs. The 1988 debut album, Feel the Shake, and single of the same name made some waves, but they never received the sort of attention they deserved. Not critically, and certainly not in the form of sales. They split in ’93 and re-formed in 2006. For the past few years, original members Finn, Billy Rowe and Fernie Rod have been joined by drummer Al Serrato and former Faster Pussycat bassist Eric Stacy. Born to Fly is the new album, and their first set of new material since 1990.

“Writing and recording this album came so naturally, there was no struggle at all,” Rowe said in a press release accompanying the album. “We feel it happened at the right time and was meant to be. The spirit of the band has been at an all-time high ever since we started this new album. We shared ideas via email and then demoed every song before entering the studio. Once we started tracking this album, we all felt something special was going on.”

Credit: Frontiers Records

Credit: Frontiers Records

And it shows. Born to Fly isn’t the sound of a Sunset Strip dinosaur outfit going through the motions, plastering on the makeup and squeezing into the leather despite the onset of a middle-aged belly. Rather, this is the sound of a band reinvigorated. Jetboy seem to have more lives than a Hollywood street cat, and that’s because Finn and Co. are always finding new ways to get excited about their music.

That said, Born to Fly is a fairly standard, no-frills rock & roll record. There are no tricks here, nothing to suggest that they’re looking to update the sound or keep up with the times. But that’s the album’s strength; like The Rolling Stones and AC/DC, Jetboy know what they're good at by this point.

Picking out individual tracks is futile. This is a solid hard-rock album, built for fans of that sort of thing. Importantly, Jetboy is creating new music again after years of gigging and playing the same old songs. They’re excited, and their fans will be, too. This is an album for them.

“My feelings were to stay true to Jetboy’s roots and style, but to also incorporate where we are at today, pleasing old and new fans alike,” Finn said in that press release.

Mission accomplished.

Born to Fly is available Friday, Jan. 25, via Frontiers Music.

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