Two years ago, HNE Recordings released a compilation of recordings by the band Warrior, making official recordings that have long been shared in heavy metal bootlegging circles. The band was a brief foray for guitarist Vinnie Vincent and ended abruptly when he joined KISS. (As we wrote about the original release, we kindly direct you there to learn more about the story.) Not long after its release, member Gary Shea happened upon a cache of other recordings and higher quality versions of material on that album. Thus, Warrior II, a two disc set that upgrades the previous warrior release as well as adds a second disc of rehearsals and demos.
And man, talk about an upgrade! The first disc of the set is an expanded edition of the 2017 comp. On that release, promising numbers “Back On The Streets” “I Need Love,” “Boyz Gonna Rock,” and “Gypsy In Her Eyes” suffered from a muddy, cavernous sound, but these newly discovered versions sound studio fresh and crystal clear. New discoveries “Tears” and ”No Substitute” are a bit rough but still sound great, and like much of the material here would be released by Vinnie Vincent Invasion. Even more exciting is a finished version of “Hot Nights,” which appeared on the previous release as an instrumental and a nearly inaudible rehearsal version. t’s easy to imagine that had Warrior survived, this number could have easily given Motley Crue a run for their money in the heavy metal/glam department.
It’s the second disc, though, that really thrills. Although the material is of bootleg quality, what it lacks in fidelity it makes up for in the sheer joy of discovery. At 45 minutes, it’s not hard to imagine listening to this on a cassette you traded with a fan and friend on the other side of the country who just couldn’t wait to share it with you. There are some fascinating home demos; “Forbidden” is nearly a cappella, save for the killer guitar solo, while “That Time Of Year” simply features Vincent on keyboard, singing and working on the guitar solo. We’re privy to the creative process with these demos, as well as an epic twenty-minute rehearsal session with the band working on both songs. Instrumental versions of “Boyz Gonna Rock” and “Gypsy In Her Eyes” both sound great as well. The big attraction here is a brief reunion of the band, a 1988 recording entitled “Thrill Of The Chase,” a very slick sounding AOR hard rocker reminiscent of Journey and Foreigner. Considering its creation date, it makes one wonder if Vincent was already considering his options for a new band, as Vinnie Vincent Invasion would soon break up.
Even though Warrior will always remain a “what if” kind of band, this upgraded collection shows that it indeed was a band with great potential, a group filled with talented musicians and the songs to back it up. It’s too bad nothing ever came together, so Warrior II serves as a reminder that sometimes the best music and potentially greatest bands never make it off the launch pad.