Often, the West Coast gets all the attention when it comes to the late ’80s and early ’90s glam metal era. But if you’re from the East Coast, surely you know that during the same time, a proverbial hotbed of music was rolling to a boil, too.
Groups like Spread Eagle, Tangier, Britny Fox, and Kix all cut their teeth on East Coast soil, but one band, in particular, was hotter than hot, and that’s Heavens Edge. Led by golden-haired Mark Evans and shredding guitarist Reggie Wu, Heavens Edge set a new standard for hair metal heroics that handily stood chest-to-chest with their West Coast counterparts.
The group’s debut, Heavens Edge (1990), was easily one of the best of the era and, sadly, one of the most overlooked. But worry not; after a long respite, Heavens Edge is back, and new music is afoot for 2023. It’s stunning news and certainly cause for celebration, as Wu, in particular, is one of the era’s finest.
When asked about the albums that changed his life leading into his career as a musician, Wu quipped, “At first, I had a hard time coming up with the ten albums that impacted my life. And what first came to mind wasn’t an album. I remember loving the song “Indian Reservation” by Paul Revere & the Raiders. I would go to the Cherry Hill Library and rent the cassette so I could hear it over and over. The thump of the verse leading into the big chorus affected me. I wanted to rock like Mark Lindsay.
“It was so funny,” Wu continues. “When Napster first hit, I downloaded all my favorite childhood songs like “Don’t Call Us, We’ll Call You,” “Brother Louie,” and “Rock On,” and of course, I had to download “Indian Reservation.” I was in my office listening to it, and my wife Lisa walked in and said, “If I knew this is what you liked growing up, I don’t know if I would have dated you.” [Laughs]. Beyond that, I have to say that while I didn’t mention them, all of Prince and Black Sabbath’s albums truly impacted my life, too.”
As he prepares to unleash Heavens Edge’s first new music since 1998, Reggie Wu dialed in with ClassicRockHistory.com to recount the ten albums that changed his life.
# 10 – Deep Purple, Machine Head
This is the first one off the top of my head. Every song on this album is spectacular. I remember learning the whole album (rhythms) when I was young – I could never copy Blackmore’s solos – the one I worked on trying to get the best was “Highway Star,” but he was my absolute favorite guitarist growing up. I think it is because he had some classical influence in his solos. The way his solos would follow the chord progressions really impacted me!
# 9 – Deep Purple, Made in Japan
Again, to hear the songs from Machine Head live was huge! How they would jam and change up the songs live was so cool, and I loved “Strange Kind of Woman” and “Child in Time.” Ian Gillan screaming his brains out on “Child in Time” – WOW! I Would play those over and over!
# 8 -Deep Purple, Burn
Are you sensing an obsession [Laughs]? “Burn” could be my all-time favorite Deep Purple song. It’s so amazingly written, and both Jon Lord and Blackmore are brilliant on it! I loved every song on this album as well. “Sail Away” is such a beautiful song, and “Mistreated” is an all-time classic Deep Purple song. I even love seeing the live versions of the Dead Daises with Glenn Hughes performing it. And as a side note – Glenn Hughes still has a spectacular voice.
# 7 – Led Zeppelin, The Song Remains the Same
First, I saw the movie, and that blew my mind. I came home that night from the movie and dropped my guitar as low as possible to copy Jimmy Page. “No Quarter” might be my favorite song from this album. I also loved how they would extend songs like “Whole Lotta Love” and “Dazed and Confused” into complete jams! In high school, my band would open with “Rock n Roll,” just like the mighty Zep! I’m actually reading a Led Zeppelin bio, and apparently, everyone hated the movie when it came out. I loved it!
# 6 – Kiss, Alive!
While everyone in high school was getting into progressive rock bands like Genesis, Yes, and Kansas – and I loved all those bands, too – Kiss’s Alive! blew my mind. But you couldn’t tell anyone because it was not “cool” to like them. Songs like “Duece” and “Strutter” to songs like “100,000 Years” just blew me away. Kiss showed us all how to put on a show! I thought Ace Frehley was the coolest!
# 5 – Derringer, a tie between Derringer and Derringer Live
I had always loved Rick Derringer from “Rock n Roll Hoochie Koo” and the stuff he did with the Winter Brothers. But when the first Derringer album hit, it blew me away. I remember trying to learn “Beyond the Universe” – it was so fast! It was on the self-titled and the Live album. I saw them open for Foreigner, and Rick Derringer, and Danny Johnson, or it might have been Mark Cunningham at that point, were throwing their guitars back and forth – so cool!
Years later, we were performing on The MORC cruise, and Vinnie Appice was on there. I went up to him and gushed about those two albums, and he usually said when people talk to him, it’s usually about Dio, but I was the second person on this cruise to come up to him and talk about it. I found out later that my singer Mark Evans had already gone up to him and said all the same things as me [Laughs].
# 4 – Van Halen/ the first four albums, but mainly Van Halen
This was the game-changer of my life! I remember going to see Sabbath at the Philly Spectrum, and my buddy said, “Make sure you see the opening band; the guitar player is really good.” Well, we saw them, and it blew my mind! They opened with “On Fire,” David Lee Roth did the “V” jump off the riser, and Eddie just completely tore it up. That was it for me – I knew all I wanted to do for the rest of my life was play guitar. I listened to every track on the first four albums and tried to learn and play the songs. Van Halen put on the best shows – always so much fun – and they put the smile back in rock ‘n’ roll. Edward Van Halen is at the top of Mount Rushmore for me.
# 3 – Ozzy Osbourne – Diary of a Madman
I actually heard this album before I heard the first one, and “Over the Mountain” blew me away. I remember trying to figure out this solo; the flat five at the beginning of the solo sounded so evil and cool. I had tickets to see this show, and tragically, Randy passed away. I was so bummed that I didn’t even go to the show; now I wish I did because Brad Gillis did an amazing job. I know Randy only played on two studio albums, but what an impact he had on me. I started classical guitar lessons with the amazing Dr. Robert Trent because of Randy.
# 2 – Yngwie Malmsteen – Rising Force
Coming from a classical background, this album completely blew my mind. I had never heard such blazing speed with so much fire from any guitarist! I spent hours trying to learn “Far Beyond the Sun.” I got to see him at a little club here in South Jersey with Talas (Billy Sheehan’s band). Needless to say, my guitar friends and me spent the next couple of years trying to learn Malmsteen licks! One of the biggest gigs I ever had was warming up for Dio and Malmsteen. I remember being so excited to play The Spectrum; I had my two Marshall stacks, and I was feeling so cool till Yngwie set up his 27 Marshall stacks behind me and made my rig look like a Pignose [Laughs].
# 1 – Extreme – Pornograffitti
We went out to dinner with Extreme’s manager at the time, and he was telling me about this new band Extreme – I told him, “Oh, I heard he’s good, but he’s an Eddie Van Halen clone.” I never really checked out the first record other than “Kid Ego,” but Pornograffitti blew my mind!! Every track is spectacular, and the riff on “He-Man Woman Hater” is one of the baddest all-time riffs.
I heard Edward Van Halen used to mess around with that riff during soundcheck. The solos on every song are so well thought out and constructed, and the solo on “Get the Funk Out” is brilliant. Ask Brian May, and he will tell you. Nuno is definitely one of my all-time favorite guitarists. I might even like his solo stuff more from a songwriting standpoint, and they are super great guys.
Reggie Wu of Heavens Edge: 10 Albums That Changed My Life article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2023
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