Why does Hanoi rock? “Party Secretary for the South” Mai Chi Tho explains: “Youth in Saigon are considered too easily influenced, while youth in the North are stable and safe. When Southern youth are trained in socialism they will be influenced less. While rock music is seen in the South as an American instrument to subvert the Vietnamese and records and tapes have been confiscated, in the North there are dozens of coffee shops with loud rock music.” This may have changed, however, as this information comes from a really old Playboy; don’t know the date but it must be early ’80s as the chicks all have pubic hair, i.e., before they were “pressured” by the combined might of Gillette and the Rexall dental-floss division. (Although if Curtis LeMay had his way, Hanoi would’ve “rocked” a lot more than it did.) Just like RIAA pressure is the reason all ‘Nam flicks feature the VC, not the NVA. The NVA had better tunes and they wanted to move those Doors box sets without competition from the Cat Soup Serenaders.
How does Hanoi rock? With an airbrushed Euro feel just like “new” Playboy models, i.e., like they always did, i.e., like Ian Hunter (whose CDs have also been reissued by Classic Rock Records in the U.K. Get You’re Never Alone With a Schizophrenic and Short Back’n’Sides; they’re really good). 12 Shots on the Rocks has the weirdest intro since “Strange Boys Play Weird Openings” from Back to Mystery City, although the “mystery” here is the title, considering that there are 14 tracks on “CD proper” plus three bonus (including a Hall & Oates cover!!!), which equals 17! Less “mysterious” is how much “Bad News” sounds like fellow Norma Jean queens Roxy Music. Bryan Ferry made a series of records about woeful unrequited desire before his real-life wife left him in public for Mick Jagger, while Hanoi Rocks sang “Dead by Xmas” and “Self Destruction Blues” and ended up on page 130 of The Dirt!
It’s a mighty long way down rock ‘n’ roll, if your name goes cold just down a shot and say “Skol!” Here they are again, so roll away the stone: responsible for ‘Nam-obsessed Scandies Turbocopter and Hellanegroes, back with more Orientalism to spin Ed Said’s head ‘cept Ed Said’s dead. (Goddamn, I’ve gotten irresponsible since writing for Hell’s Inky! Ha-ha, geddit?) (Are you “Finnish”?—Ed.)