Keel: The Final Frontier-80’s-1986.

Keel is an American heavy metal band founded in 1984 in Los AngelesCalifornia. They are known for their rock anthem “The Right to Rock.” The band was active until 1989, with a brief reunion in 1998. Keel reunited again in 2008 and toured in 2009 for their 25th anniversary.[1] Although the band is still active to this day, they have not released any new material since 2010.

Keel was formed by former Steeler vocalist Ron Keel.[2] The original members were Ron Keel on vocals, former Icon / Schoolboys member David Michael Phillips on guitar, Marc Ferrari on lead & rhythm guitars, Bobby Marks on drums and Kenny Chaisson on bass guitar. Within months, Phillips left to join King Kobra and was replaced by ex-Cheetah guitarist Bryan Jay. This was the lineup for their 1984 debut album Lay Down the Law.[3] After the album’s release, Marks left and was replaced by Steven Riley, who subsequently left early in the recording of the band’s second album to join W.A.S.P., and was in turn replaced by Dwain Miller, forming a lineup which would remain stable for almost four years. Their debut album caught the eye of KISS‘ Gene Simmons, resulting in his production of their second album, The Right To Rock, released on March 26, 1985.[2] Their next and also Simmons-produced third album The Final Frontier was released on April 30, 1986.[4] It included the single “Because the Night“, a song that was co-written by Patti Smith and Bruce Springsteen and had been a hit for Smith in 1978.[2]

In 1986, Keel won the Best Band of the Year award in the second annual Metal Edge magazine reader’s poll, beating such noted bands as Iron Maiden and Judas Priest.

In 1987, the song “Rock & Roll Outlaw” (a cover from the 1978 self titled debut of Australian hard rock band Rose Tattoo) appeared on the soundtrack of the movie Dudes. Their fourth album, Keel, was released on June 21, 1987,[2] recorded with producer Michael Wagener. An unreleased track from the album, Ferrari’s “Proud To Be Loud”, would eventually wind up on Pantera‘s Power Metal album, which Ferrari produced early in 1988.

Ferrari and Jay both left in 1988, after touring in support of the Keel album. They were replaced by keyboardist Scott Warren, later in Dio, and Baton Rouge guitarist Tony Palmucci.

Their fifth album, Larger Than Live, was released in 1989[2] with six new studio recordings, including a cover of the 1980 Humble Pie song “Fool for a Pretty Face”. Also on the album were six live tracks recorded in March 1989. Following the shooting of the music video for the song “Dreams Are Not Enough” on that same year, Ron Keel announced the disbandment of Keel.[2]

Post-disbandment and first reunion

In the 1990s, Ferrari wrote a gear column for Metal Edge magazine entitled “Power Sources”, and went on to form Cold Sweat with among others ex-UFO guitarist Erik Gamans, who would release the album Break Out in 1990. After the demise of that group, Ferrari appeared in both Wayne’s World movies (as the guitarist for Tia Carrere‘s band “Crucial Taunt”) and formed the band Medicine Wheel, which released three CDs. In addition, he released two solo CDs and started a music publishing company called MasterSource, employing Ron Keel to write material for the library. Ferrari also recently wrote a book titled Rock Star 101.

Bryan Jay and Dwain Miller went from Keel to forming a band called Dogbone, with ex-Riot vocalist Rhett Forrester, bassist Rob Thiessen and vocalist Eddie Saiz.[5]

In 1998, members of Keel got together to release their sixth album Keel VI: Back in Action. It mainly consisted of unreleased material from their previous albums, including the aforementioned “Proud To Be Loud”.

The band’s song “Speed Demon” (from The Right to Rock) is briefly heard on the 2002 movie Men in Black II, and appears on Mike Varney‘s U.S. Metal Vol. IV compilation.

Ron Keel pursued multiple musical projects before forming the country metal band IronHorse in 2001. In 2006, Ron left IronHorse and formed K2 Featuring Ron Keel a year later.

Second reunion

On November 2008, Keel reunited in time to celebrate the band’s 25th anniversary. All the members from The Right to Rock era had rejoined except for Chaisson. The new bassist is Ron Keel’s longtime friend, Geno Arce. Their first reunion show was held in Hollywood, CA, on January 24, 2009.[6] In addition, the band played at the third annual Rocklahoma festival on July 2009.[7]

A reunion album, Streets of Rock & Roll was released in 2010, as well as a 25th anniversary edition of The Right to Rock featuring a brand new re-recorded version of the title song as a bonus track.[8]

Keel continued to perform live sporadically throughout the 2010s; however, according to Ron Keel, the band has no plans to follow-up on Streets of Rock & Roll.[9]

Discography:

Lay Down the LawFull-length1984 
Demo 1984Demo1984 
Easier Said than DoneSingle1985 
The Right to RockSingle1985
The Right to RockFull-length1985
Raised on RockSingle1986 
Tears of FireSingle1986 
The Final FrontierSingle1986 
Because the NightSingle1986 
The Final FrontierFull-length1986
Rock ‘N’ Roll OutlawSingle1987 
Somebody’s WaitingSingle1987 
KeelFull-length1987
Larger than LiveLive album1989 
VI: Back in ActionCompilation1998
Alone at LastFull-length2006 
The Ultimate Video CollectionVideo2007 
RK / Ron Keel – The Ultimate CollectionCompilation2007 
Streets of Rock & RollFull-length2010 
Wild ForeverSingle2013 
Metal CowboyFull-length2014 
Dead Man Rockin’Single2016 
Fight Like a BandFull-length2019 
South X South DakotaFull-length2020 
Steve Purcell
Guitars (session)
See also: ex-David Lee Murphy, ex-Hell’s Bell’s, ex-Lazy Susan, ex-Sam McCaslin
Philip Wolfe
Keyboards (Guest)
See also: Glass Wolfe, Philip Wolfe, ex-Impellitteri
Kenny Chaisson
Bass (1983-1990, 1998)
See also: ex-Forty Thieves, ex-Metal Beast
Bobby Marks
Drums (1983)
See also: ex-Steeler, ex-London, ex-Dokken (live), ex-American Mafia, ex-Arabia, ex-December’s Child, ex-Holy Water, ex-Rage & Beyond, ex-Scarecrow, ex-Voices of Extreme, ex-Humble Pie (live)
Steve Riley
Drums (1983-1985)
See also: Steve Riley’s L.A. Guns, ex-W.A.S.P., ex-L.A. Guns, ex-Roadmaster, ex-Steppenwolf, ex-The B’zz, ex-The Lawyers
Marc Ferrari
Guitars (1983-1989, 1998, 2009-?)
See also: ex-Cold Sweat, ex-Crying Shame, ex-Ferrari, ex-Medicine Wheel
Bryan Jay
Guitars (1983-1990, 1998, 2009-?)
See also: ex-Sexist, ex-Dogbone
David Michael Philips
Guitars (1984)
See also: Icon, ex-Tempest, Big Cock, King Kobra, Liquid Black, Schoolboys, Steelshine, Tomcats, Tunnel, ex-Alex Masi, ex-Lizzy Borden
Dwain Miller
Drums (1985-1990, 1998, 2009)
See also: Book of Numbers, ex-Rhett Forrester, ex-Dogbone, ex-Mr. Dirty, ex-Savage Master
Scott Warren
Keyboards (1987-1990)
See also: Joshua PerahiaHellion (live), ex-Dio, ex-Sledge Leather, ex-Heaven & Hell (live), Dio Disciples, ex-Type O Negative (live), ex-Berlin, ex-Warrant (live)
Songs
Side A
1.The Final Frontier03:59  Show lyrics
2.Rock and Roll Animal04:52  Show lyrics
3.Because the Night (Patti Smith cover)03:53  Show lyrics
4.Here Today, Gone Tomorrow04:10  Show lyrics
5.Arm and a Leg03:15  Show lyrics
Side B
6.Raised on Rock03:14  Show lyrics
7.Just Another Girl03:20  Show lyrics
8.Tears of Fire04:26  Show lyrics
9.Nightfall01:56  instrumental
10.No Pain No Gain03:46  Show lyrics
 36:51 

1 Comment

  1. Brainded Binky, January 20th, 2015

    Space; “The Final Frontier”. This is the voyage of the band Keel. Its mission; to party on, to seek out new rock and roll songs, and to go where no band has ever gone before….*

    Yes, Keel is at it again, and their album is harder and more rocking than ever. Even if you don’t consider them to be real metal, they can still be entertaining to listen to. Why? ‘Cos their songs are more aggressive and raunchier than any glam band you’d expect to hear. They’ve got some of the cliches that we hate about a lot of glam bands, but they’ve also got quite a few surprises for those expecting another “Livin’ on a Prayer”. That’s right, let Keel take you on an interstellar journey beyond the farthest stars in the galaxy with their extreme rock n’ roll.

    The follow-up to their already cool album, “The Right to Rock” is an even better album than before, since it’s got more to offer for all who demand more aggressive songs. Even their cover song of Patti Smith’s “Because the Night” is powerful and fantastic, delivering us some of the finest hard rock in the late 80’s. It’s haunting and and dark vibe gives us something more than a wimpy love song that the lyrics would suggest. Around this time, Motley Crue was giving us the much cliched “Girls, Girls, Girls”, the poster child for glam bands in Los Angeles. Here, however, we get more aggressive rock songs, like “Rock and Roll Animal”. Of course it’s a bit cliche in some respects, but it’s got that heaviness that we all crave, and a less annoying chorus. There’s also the fact that it begins very soft with a driving bass line and soft guitars which eventually build up to a hard-rocking gem. The intro to that song makes the listener more anticipated for the awesome song that is to come, although the song could use less synthesized drums. Other than that, it’s a very effective song. Even if it was slower than usual, the title track also has something for everyone. It’s a hard and pounding number which contains a pretty effective riff and a pounding rhythm from the drums to make up for the slow tempo. Match that against your “Cherry Pie”!

    What makes “The Final Frontier” even better than the preceding album is the fact that the more radio-friendly songs are more few. Granted, we still do get some, and they can be stupid (“Just Another Girl” and “Here Today, Gone Tomorrow” are pretty dumb songs, so it gets points off from there), there’s less of them here than there are on “The Right to Rock”. We get more power to our album, and for a glam band, that’s really saying a lot. We get more of the hard-rocking songs that we know and love, and needless to say, “The Final Frontier” is a much more extraordinary album. One of these songs is “No Pain, No Gain”, which is one of those driving and fast songs with a rocking riff that really defines the word “rock”. It’s the sort of rock n’ roll that we all expect to come from any hard rock or metal band around during the time. Not a slow and moronic song about sex that has a more basic and wimpy hook, just this stuff. It’s the high energy of “No Pain, No Gain” that really defines the atmosphere of hard rock and metal. “Arm and a Leg” is another potential candidate for a fan favorite. It’s a raunchy and aggressive song that contains more harmonic chords that give its riff more of an edge, thus it’s power is greatly enhanced.

    This is actually an album so good, that even the power ballad sounds good. That’s right, you’ve read this correctly, the power ballad sounds good. Why? ‘Cos it’s actually got more potential than “Every Rose has Its Thorn”. It contains a more haunting and quiet atmosphere to it, making it more unique in its own special way. Instead of making the song more glossy and messy, the synthesizers actually elevate the dark and eerie nature of the ballad. That’s synthesizer use done right, right there. When a ballad has this kind of morose atmosphere, it’s easier to relate to ‘cos of the fact that it’s more believable, that way we can actually take it seriously. “Tears of Fire” is one of only a select few power ballads that have actually been done right, since it’s not so pretentious and overdone. It’s a more serious song that’s more down to earth due to its more haunting and goose-bump-inducing mystique. Sure, a lot of the choruses of the songs are more of the sing-along type, but they’re not super-insanely annoying like any Bon Jovi song ever written. They’re not so horrendously goofy, and actually contain a rock n’ roll-like punch to them. Sing-along choruses are another cliche of many glam bands, but when they’re done right, they’re not the kind that you’d be easily irritated by. The ones on “The Final Frontier” are just the opposite, for even they can be good to listen to.

    “Just Another Girl” and Here Today, Gone Tomorrow” can easily be ignored, for they’re just two songs that would be counted as “awful”. Other than those songs, “The Final Frontier” is actually one of the greatest albums ever to be released by any glam band the world has ever known, and that’s not a hyperbole. If only other glam bands could follow Keel’s example and create albums just as good, if not better. Alas, that would never be, for moneymaking would always get in the way. The jury may still be out on whether or not Keel is truly a metal band, but with hard-rocking songs like “No Pain, No Gain”, it would certainly suggest that it is.

    *For the record, I’m more of a “Star Wars” fan, so coming up with “Star Trek” reference was a bit of a challenge for me.

    Like

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