Artist – Montrose
Album – Montrose
Year – 1973
Genre – Classic Rock
They were called America’s answer to Led Zeppelin, and their debut album is regarded as one of the biggest influences to heavy metal. But you probably haven’t heard of them. Montrose was the first band of second Van Halen singer Sammy Hagar and guitarist Ronnie Montrose. Though they were overshadowed by their British contemporaries, Montrose proves on their awesome track Space Station #5 that they can play with the big boys of classic rock. Seriously, this song will make you want to do bad things and drive fast. Very fast.
The first 50 seconds of the song begin with a psychedelic soundscape comprised of bleeps and bloops and some echoing guitar strums, but don’t let that drive you away. At 51 seconds, you will be hit with a riff of epic proportions. It’s gonna blow you out of the water. It’s everything you’ve ever wanted from a classic rock riff. It’s not fancy or overdone, but it is POWERFUL. Hagar then lets out a scream to let you know that this song is ready to give you some honest to goodness rock n’ roll.
The riff continues throughout each verse, and the other instruments are perfectly tempered to fit the beat of the song. It’s nothing flashy, but it’s solid as a rock. Hagar’s vocals, however, take this track from great to greater. He has a quintessential classic rock voice with just the right amount of grit and power, but also that technical ability that is oh so important. The whole band just has a blast for each and every verse.
The verses are connected with some great little “chorus sections” that are really there to add some versatility for the rest of the band. All the instruments get a little funky here with some ascending lines that really get you grooving. These lead right back into that monster riff and next verse.
After a second chorus section, there’s a repeat of the psychedelic feel of the opening, but in a bridge section. It’s quite a change up and it certainly feels sort of abrupt, but it doesn’t detract at all. However, you will find yourself waiting for the next verse, as it really is the pin that holds the song together. Luckily, there’s a great little funky arpeggio section that rolls right into the next verse perfectly.
Hagar lets it out with all he’s got for this last verse and chorus, and unfortunately he has to because this is the last verse. The song doesn’t end here though, my friends. Montrose gets to show off his skills and there’s a wonderfully awesome guitar solo. Then you will notice that the song gets faster…and faster. The tempo of the instruments speed up continuously and the band shows that they have the chops to keep it up. It almost gives this kind of pre-thrash metal vibe, and you can really see the influences this song had. The guitar gets faster and faster until it blends in with more bleeps and the song ends how it began. But you’ll want to listen again. Did I mention the lyrics of this song are very classic rock and roll fare? It’s about some HOT SPACE LOVIN’! Sorry about the caps, I just really wanted to say that.
Space Station #5 is exactly the great lost classic rock track you’ve been searching for all your life. The guitar playing and riffs here are absolutely monstrous, and Sammy Hagar’s voice is legendary. It encapsulates everything that we love about classic rock, and that’s why it can stand the test of time. It’ll hook from that 51 second mark. All I can say is that if you love rock n’ roll, you will love this track. It rolls, and more importantly, it ROCKS!