Monday nights - way back in 1983/4 - Vancouver's rock station, CFOX, used to have a half hour (or was it an hour) of air time devoted to playing new hard rock and metal releases. My friend told me about the radio program and so the next Monday night, I tuned in. The first song they played was "Mean Streak", the title track of this album. I was totally thrilled. That riff had something that I had not yet heard (granted, at this point my cassette collection was limited to AC/DC, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, Van Halen, Def Leppard, and Quiet Riot, so there was plenty of room for "new").
It wasn't long before Y&T's "Mean Streak" took its place in my cassette carrying case.The album is the third in a trio of early metal albums ("Earth Shaker" and "Black Tiger" are the other two) where Y&T were grittier, crunchier, and had more grind to their music than their next two releases would have. This was not the smiling music from Sunset Boulevard but San Francisco Bay rock that had grown out of the seventies and had firmly established itself by the 80's.
That killer title track about a gold-digging woman lends itslef to one of Dave Meniketti's trademark blazing solos that then mellows out into a nice rock melody before that killer riff rams into the song like a churning machine crashing through the factory wall. It's still one of my favourite Y&T songs.
Though it's hard to keep up with that kind of pace, the rest of the album delivers very well. Y&T later on recorded some beautiful power ballads but they are not to found here. What we have here is good solid heavy rock that bumps and rolls throughout the album. "Lonely Side of Town" is a bit slower, "Midnight in Tokyo" has a strong melody against the metallic play of guitars, and "Take You to the Limit" is slower in tempo but still has a nice hard rock feel. "Hang 'em High" and "Breaking Away" are more straightforward rockers. The final track on the original release, "Down and Dirty" is just a good time rock tune and a fun ending to a very good album.
In a way, this album is stereotypical of hard rock/metal of this era. But as this is the band's fifth album and it was released in their 10th year as a band, they really have the format down pat. Different from "Black Tiger" and slightly more so than "Earth Shaker" (the latter of the two was a bit harder and faster, IMO), "Mean Streak" was the last of the albums released before Y&T began turning to a more radio friendly sound that would score them a couple of songs regularly played on the air waves. Dave Meniketti and company have really put together a solid hard rock album, all sweat and tense muscles, no pop and bounce.
I think this album is not essential to anyone who prefers heavier stuff like Iron Maiden or even heavier like Celtic Frost. But if you're into good serious hard rock with some great riffs and solos, I'd say it's a pretty essential album to check out. It's just too good to be only "good but not essential" hence 3 and a half stars.