Tyketto: Don’t Come Easy (Rock Candy)

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Don’t Come Easy
Rock Candy Records

If one were to consult the history books as a means of predicting the fate of Tyketto,  the story would read like this: young, hot band signs to major label, records its debut album, and just when said debut album comes out, their style of music falls out of favor, resulting in the band being dropped and never heard from again. For sure, part of that story is accurate, but thankfully the ending was a bit happier. With the reissue of their debut album, Don’t Come Easy, and the release of their most recent album, Reach, Tyketto is finally getting the recognition they deserve.

Tyketto was formed in the late 1980s by Danny Vaughn, who had briefly been vocalist of Waysted, drummer Michael Clayton (a founding member of White Lion), bassist Jimi Kennedy, and guitarist Brooke St. James (Moxy Roxx). The four members had seen excesses and pretense in their previous groups, and wanted to form a band that focused on the music and the melody, as opposed to the preening of their contemporaries. The band gelled quickly, and soon scored a deal with Geffen Records, a label that had a proven track record with their brand of melodic hard rock.

Tyketto entered the studio in 1989 with noted producer Rick Zito (The Motels, Berlin, Heart), and the resulting album, Don’t Come Easy, seemed to have “hit record” written on it. True, at that time the music world was flooded with hair metal bands—and Tyketto did have the pretty-boy look down pat—but where they differed from their contemporaries was their knack for writing a melody. Kicking off with the potent “Forever Young”—a song seemingly destined for a long life on hard rock radio playlists—it was clear that this young band was special. The soared to hard rock heights on anthemic rockers “Lay Your Body Down,” “Sail Away,” and “Walk On Fire,” while “Wings,” “Standing Alone,” and “Seasons” showed their knack for power balladry. So high quality were the songs of this era that even the album’s lone castaway, the b-side “Walk Away,” is a heavy rocker that could have stood on its own.

Don’t Come Easy had the hallmarks of being a successful debut album; the band had the looks and they had the skill to back it up. Unfortunately, Geffen made the puzzling decision to sit on the record for nearly a year—presumably to avoid it getting lost in the shuffle of successful records by Tesla, Whitesnake, and Nelson. Upon its release, “Forever Young” was released as their debut single, and it started to perform well, but its ascent was cut short thanks to Nirvana’s Nevermind. Suddenly, Geffen’s enthusiasm for Tyketto was gone. Not that they didn’t completely stop working with the band—Tyketto recorded most of their follow-up album for the label, which was eventually released in 1994. The band would record a third album, though by this time Vaughn had left the band, and Tyketto would quietly fold shortly after its release. They would reunite occasionally in the following years, before returning completely in 2012 with most of the original lineup, and last year they released Reach, an impressive record that has proven to be their most successful record to date.

Though the story of Don’t Come Easy is one of frustration and disappointment, it’s also one that has a happier ending; in the ensuing years, it has earned a reputation for being a lost jewel, becoming a highly sought album in hard rock circles. This reissue reintroduces a band who persevered in the face of endless setbacks, and shows that simply because the trends change doesn’t mean that everything no longer in fashion isn’t lacking in quality.

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