SPREAD EAGLE (1989–94). Ray West (vocals), Paul DiBartolo (guitar), Rob De Luca (bass), Tommi Gallo (drums).
Featuring a down and dirty streetwise image that was akin to an east coast version of Guns N’ Roses, New York City’s Spread Eagle should have had a chance to rival that band in some of its popularity, but coming late in the game they never quite had the chance to show what they were capable of. Releasing their stellar self-titled debut in 1990, the band stood out with a gritty image and sound. Fronted by vocalist Ray West, whose snarling vocals were a match for Axel’s wail, they also possessed a sleeper guitar hero in Paul DiBartolo, whose casual, devilmay-care demeanor belied a highly developed technique.
Standout tracks like “Broken City” and “Switchblade Serenade” were at once gritty and slyly complex in their compositional sophistication, down and dirty songs that musically went beyond the street punk veneer they hid behind. After receiving some initial attention, the album lagged in sales, and the follow-up Open to the Public released in 1993 stiffed due to lack of promotion and the rising popularity of alternative rock.
The band (minus original guitarist DiBartolo) has recently reunited, and their original debut was rereleased in 2006 and is well worth seeking out.
Discography: Spread Eagle (MCA, 1990); Open to the Public (MCA, 1993).