Asiana – “Out On the Street” (1990)

Loverboy tells us that “everybody’s workin’ for the weekend,” and that doesn’t change as you get older. Seemingly endless hours of work and commuting don’t leave a lot of time for much during the week other than the essentials – eating, sleeping, and basic hygiene. But the weekends? That’s where you get to bust loose and go wild and party, right? Except eventually you reach a certain again and you look forward to the weekend for other reasons, like maybe going to bed early, sleeping in, and, well, maybe a nap if you can fit it in.

I decided to take my first foray into the vinyl we brought back from our recent trip to Seoul, starting with Asiana’s Out On The Street. And man does this take me back to a simpler time, a time when the weekends were about going out and getting after it, rocking out with your friends and tossing back some beers if you could find someone old enough to buy them for you. It still sounds great to my much older brain as I sit here on a Saturday morning, having gone to bed early last night, slept in this morning, and now waking up with my second cup of coffee. (♠) The fast tracks scream NWOBHM with strong Judas Priest and Krokus influences, while the slower, heavy numbers like “Tom Kat” feel more like Guns N’ Roses. It’s surprisingly good, though may have been a bit dated by time it came out in 1990. But South Korea was relatively new to the metal game then, having only recently broken free from rule by a series of strongmen and de facto dictators to emerge into a freer democratic society. The South Koreans were quick studies, however, because Out On The Street is a solid effort every bit as good as what was being played on FM radio at the time, plant of shredding guitars and lyrics that flip between raspy and soaring. As an added bonus the whole thing is sung in English, making it very approachable to North American and European metalheads.

I picked this up at a nice little shop called Coda in the Myeong-dong Underground Shopping Center. Seoul has a lot of these little underground malls – they look like entrances to subway stations from the street and serve the dual purpose of allowing you to get to any corner of the massive downtown intersections quickly and without having to wait on crossing signals, with the added bonus of being full of little shops. This particular center has tons of music stores and is ground zero for any vinyl junkie visiting Seoul, packing half a dozen shops into a few hundred feet. Unfortunately this copy of Out On The Street has some water damage on the jacket reverse and is missing the insert, but the vinyl is in great shape and it was the only copy of this I found, so there was no way it wasn’t coming home with me since Asiana is one of the few metal bands from this period that showed up in my pre-trip research.

The recording is a tad flat to modern ears, but I’m coming to see that as not so much a failing of 1980s and 90s recordings as to how the “Loudness War” changed the way we all hear music. It’s a real thing, and for better or worse the damage to a large extent is done. I’m partial to the title track which you can check out below.

(♠) You don’t need coffee when you’re younger. But the older I get, the more essential it becomes.

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