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220 Volt – Eye To Eye [1988]

One of the very best hard rock/metal bands to come out of Sweden in the eighties was 220 Volt. But unfortunately, they were iced out of the lucrative American market due to lack of distro. With their fourth album Eye To Eye, 220 Volt and their label (CBS Records) were hoping to change that. To do so, 220 Volt tried to follow a template that had worked for a similar Swedish band a few years earlier — Europe. In 1986, Europe had a commercial breakthrough in the United States with their third album The Final Countdown. The album found Europe softening their sound a bit, and cheesing out their looks. To make it in America, it seemed, you needed to dumb it down, gloss up the production, and make the girls swoon. Europe pulled it off with the multi-platinum The Final Countdown. 220 Volt was hoping to repeat the formula with Eye To Eye.

With super-producer Max Norman on board to help them polish their sound, 220 Volt set their sights on maximum commercial appeal. While it is true that 220 Volt’s music always had some commercial potential, this time around they were fully invested in delivering radio-friendly hits. This is particularly evident on some of the overblown choruses, as well as the rather generic lyrics. In accordance with the common protocol of the day, Norman’s production was scrubbed cleaner than a surgeon’s hands.

Call Eye To Eye a sell-out. I can’t argue with that. But I like 220 Volt so much, I’m willing to give them a pass. Would I have preferred that 220 Volt deliver a proper follow-up to their masterful Mind Over Muscle album (1985)? One that was a natural progression from their white-hot metal roots? Of course I would. But instead we got Eye To Eye. I hate the phrase “it is what it is”, but in this case I am inclined to say it. The fact is, 220 Volt were able to make a really convincing AOR/metal-lite record! A “hair” album, if you will. They pulled it off in part because of the incredibly talented guitar duo of Mats Karlsson and Peter Olander. These guys were amazing, tasteful players. Maybe some of the songs were a little “beneath” their abilities technically speaking, but they still kept things very interesting. However, the real show-stealer on this album is vocalist Jocke Lundholm. His performance on Eye To Eye is nothing short of perfection. It’s not everyday you hear vocals delivered as smooth, as fluid, and as pitch perfect as Lundholm’s vocals on Eye To Eye!

Eye To Eye was originally released in 1988 in Europe with the cover shown above. The album was released in the States in 1989 with a different cover. Sadly, Eye To Eye never caught on like The Final Countdown did. Nope, 220 Volt never made even the smallest dent in the American market. Maybe they should have. I think that The Harder They Come deserved to be a radio hit, It’s one of 220 Volt’s best songs! A perfect slice of AOR heaven. Oh well… it is what it is.

Band Members
Joachim Lundholm – Lead & Backing Vocals
Mats Karlsson – Lead & Rhythm Guitar, Backing Vocals
Mikael Larsson – Bass
Peter Hermansson – Drums
Peter Olander – Lead/Rhythm/Acoustic Guitar, Backing Vocals

01. The Harder They Come (3:52)
02. I’m On Fire (4:19)
03. Beat Of A Heart (4:14)
04. Eye To Eye (3:47)
05. Love Is All You Need (4:08)
06. Live It Up (3:38)
07. Dog Eat Dog (3:11)
08. Dangerous (3:33)
09. Still In Love (4:07)
10. Money Talks (4:01)
11. On The Other Side [CD Bonus Track] (3:34)
12. Criminal [2003 Bonus Track] (4:00)
13. Still In Love {Remix} [2003 Bonus Track] (4:07)

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220 Volt - Eye To Eye [1988], 10.0 out of 10 based on 3 ratings
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