The countdown continues. Now we’re judging not whether or not Hair Metal is any good, since We Talk Music will happily admit to loving the genre, but we still know some bands were a little less original than others… OK, a lot of bands. So here it is, the next part of the epic countdown, complete with music videos for visual and audio evidence.
40 – Fastway
Brett – What do you get when you cross a Motorhead guitarist and a UFO bassist? A generic metal act… who knew! What is most amazing is that Pete Way winds up on this list twice, but he never really played with Fastway so it probably doesn’t count. But on the plus side, they did the soundtrack for the awful horror movie “Trick or Treat” which turned out better than the movie.
Mo – Take that back about “Trick or Treat” Brett. That film is a love letter to 80’s heavy metal excess. Not scary, but exciting at times and often very funny. Love that movie.
As for Fastway, it really does pain me to put them on the list given what “Fast” Eddie Clarke’s work in Motorhead meant to metal, not to mention having Humble Pie’s Jerry Shirley on drums. But it’s once he and bassist Charlie McCracken leave that the band’s music goes downhill on the 3rd album, “Waiting for the Roar”. With it they go from a blues based hard rocking group that I can imagine Cinderella listening to and gaining inspiration from to a band seemingly trying to just make more money. Yeah the original albums were more than a little Zeppelin-esque but at least songs like “Heft” had their own feel.
By the time the “Trick or Treat” soundtrack comes around they seem to have lost all their identity. Music for the film was scored by Christopher Young, who’s gone on to do the music for Spider-Man 3, The Hurricane, Swordfish and A Madea Christmas… OK so they can’t all be winners. Still it seems he had some influence writing the songs Fastway performs on the soundtrack, which may explain why it’s better music than from “Waiting For The Roar” but also very generic at that point.
That experience and a dispute over the pay led to the original band splitting up, but Clarke soldiered on with Lea Hart singing for them. Still it seemed less music done out of inspiration and more done out of a feeling that it’s what they were supposed to do, leaving albums that just are there for no real reason.
Meanwhile original singer Dave King bounced around for a few years again channeling his inner Robert Plant in bands like Katmandu but failing to get any traction before heading back to his Irish roots and completely re-inventing himself with the wildly successful folk punk band Flogging Molly, who are a lot of fun.
39 – Cold Sweat
Mo – Marc Ferrari started this band originally calling themselves… Ferrari! Hey, works for me, a much better name than Cold Sweat. He was the only real veteran in the band and pictured a harder edged metal sound. The other band members wanted a more commercial sound, and producer Kevin Beamish sided with the rest of the group, producing a straight forward but uninteresting album with their album “Break Out”. But on the good side Marc Ferrari’s 2002 book, Rock Star 101: A Rock Star’s Guide to Survival and Success in the Music Business, looks to be a great read that I’ll be getting to soon!
Brett – Some guys really love this style of music… Marc Ferrari is a strong guitarist who made his name with Keel (more on them later), and he tried to out-Keel, Keel, with this album. Unfortunately they created one of the blander outings ever released. He realized that Cold Sweat was doomed early and moved on to bigger and … well, uh, other projects. They carried on as Sweating Bullets, but they couldn’t make that last either. They make the list as a band that probably shouldn’t have happened in the first place.
38 – Warrant
Brett – Some people may think that Warrant should be on this list for their entire careers output. But that is not why they are on this list… Warrant with Jani Lane was a great act with great songs, good vocals and a top notch live show. Warrant with Robert Mason is an act with good vocals, a live show, and songs. That’s all they are to me is songs. Everything that made Warrant an interesting band died with Jani Lane, and now they are simply generic hair metal oldsters.
Mo – I’m really trying not to take this one personally, but it’s not easy. I’m a massive Jani Lane fan, always have been. So my instinct is to just trash the current line up, but that wouldn’t be fair. Fact is I don’t think the music from the current line up on the Rockaholic CD is all that bad. Sure a couple of songs, like the Robert Mason written “Snake” are an awful listen, but there’s some pretty good tunes too. But is it anything original? Absolutely not. It usually sounds like Bon Jovi, maybe with slightly more sleaze at times, but is still better than the music from the 2006 Jamie St. James fronted disc Born Again.
But I really do have to say something about the video for “Life’s a Song”, where the band gathers around looking at old pictures and remembering the past. Take a look at it, I’ll be here when you’re done…
Okay, see anybody missing? Really feels pretty tasteless. After all, whose song is it Warrant performs to get anybody paying to still see them? Hell, Erik Turner even named his wine “I Saw Red”, a song he really has no connection to as Jani wrote and composed it based on a real life incident he went through.
I miss Jani Lane… so here’s some of him when Warrant was a better band.
37 – Lion
Brett – I can’t actually listen to a full Lion album in one sitting. But they are another band on the list to have a guitarist poached by Ronnie James Dio. And I’m sure that Doug Aldrich was happy for that call. But between the Transformers and Friday the 13th Part 4, they did well on soundtracks.
Warning, this video is clips edited together from a Friday the 13th movie, so super gory.
Mo – Not to mention having “Never Surrender” on the 1986 Charlie Sheen film The Wraith. Hey, these guys have a killer version here of the great Bad Company song “Shooting Star” performed acoustically. So you can watch that. Also, Brett mentioned Transformers, but it needs to be said like this “TRANS-FREAKING-FORMERS!!!” which is awesome and hilariously bad at the same time, and that”s a fitting legacy for Lion.
Brett – Fuck you, I love the Transformers animated movie, and the soundtrack.
Mo – Exactly
36 – Rough Cutt
Brett – Rough Cutt is a band that I argued shouldn’t be on the list, they just seem to have more to them than many of the other bands on the list, but ultimately some of their song choices and their music videos earned them a spot. Paul Shortino is a great lead singer, though he wasn’t really a great Quiet Riot lead singer, but that’s another list. They had Craig Goldy and Claude Schnell leave for Dio, Jake E Lee left for Ozzy, they are a veritable who’s who of hair metal. But at the end of the day, it’s all about your output… and theirs is kinda generic.
Mo – The 2 of us know Rough Cutt for much the same reason any of you would, the videos they had that received some airplay back in the day, so I was very comfortable putting them on this list. Then Brett said he’s listening to them, and they’re much better than you’d think. I pointed to the videos, and said this is impossible.
Then I listened to the albums too.
Rough Cutt was a damned fine band, and their self titled debut album plus the Wants You! Follow up the next year are terrific. And as a bonus, Wants You! has great cover art on the album.
All this makes it even more important to put them here, because if you’re a good band who puts your worst on display publicly and ruins your own legacy, you deserve to be considered one of the most generic bands of the genre. Plus you called yourself Rough Cutt, which is unforgivable.
Seriously, their video and interpretation of the Erma Franklin classic “Piece of My Heart” is an abortion, so here’s Janis Joplin doing it right.
35 – Silent Rage
Mo – If you can have a Quiet Riot, why the hell can’t you have a Silent Rage?
I’m not kidding, I think that was the logic behind the band’s name.
Silent Rage is a band that serves as a warning, because if you saw the video for “Rebel With a Cause” you might think that’s good, they seem fun, I’ll buy their album. Then you’d get it home, and realize they seem like fun, but all the good was in that one track.
Brett – Silent Rage sounds like a band that should play tough, aggressive music. Too bad they play bland, wussy music instead. Their 2nd album was called “Don’t Touch Me There” and had a song with that title too, then another one of the songs on it was called “Touch Me”. I got too many conflicting vibes from this band about what they want so they make the list. Oh, and “Don’t Touch Me There” had a crappy album cover.
34 – Keel
Brett – Ron Keel is one of the most interesting frontmen in metal (there aren’t many other metal singers that try for country music careers). Much like Rough Cutt, I argued against them going on the list… but then I listened to their albums. As a producer, Gene Simmons loves to take bands and attempt to make them hit machines. That is exactly what he did with Keel… “The Right To Rock” is a rock anthem, and their best known song. But at the end of the day, it really doesn’t get any better than that for Keel. Marc Ferrari decided he could do better and formed Cold Sweat… he failed.
Mo – Oh, what the hell happened? Ron Keel started his career in Steeler with a teenaged Yngwie Malmsteen, who’s a generational talent on the guitar, and in order to keep up with him Ron Keel pushed his voice to achieve amazing vocals. It was great. Then he teamed up with the talented Marc Ferrari to form Keel. Sure their first album, “Lay Down The Law” features one of the worst album covers in history, but it was good aggressive metal with a W.A.S.P.ish feel, which is a good thing in my books, and I’ll put “Princess of Illusion” up against pretty much any power ballad from that era.
So Gene Simmons gets a hold of them and, well Simmonises (™) them. And from there, even after he’s no longer working with them, that’s what they were. A damned shame really.
33 – Southgang
Brett – Butch Walker is a guy on this list who has gone on to bigger and better things as a songwriter and producer. But his first major label signed band makes this list. Jesse Harte sounds a bit like Vince Neil, which I would argue isn’t a good thing. I guarantee you though, that if they had stuck with their original band name “Byte the Bullet”, they would have wound up even higher on the list.
Mo – Man, look at that video for “Tainted Angel”, and listen to the album of the same name. The singer Jesse Harte sounds like Bret Michaels, he moves like Bret Michaels, and all their songs sound like Poison. But hey, I like me some Poison, and I like the “Tainted Angels” album a bunch. And while I don’t think the follow up “Group Therapy” was as much fun it did feature a killer ballad in “Final Resting Place”. Still, this list isn’t about how much I like a group, it’s about how generic they were, and, well, did I mention they’re a lot like Poison?
And if they’d never existed then the band never would have gone on to form Marvelous 3 after Harte left, and then maybe I’d have never have had to have heard their late 90’s hit single “Freak of the Week” which caused me ulcer type pain every time it came on the radio to torture me.
So here it is for your listening and viewing pleasure!
32 – Hericane Alice
Brett – Hurricane Alice is a terrible band name, Hericane Alice is a worse band name. But I suppose it’s better than getting sued by Hurricane. Hericane Alice has pretty much nothing going for them other than a couple of links to other folks on this list as a couple of members joined Doug Aldrich in Burning Rain, and later, joining David Reece (who was under consideration to be lead singer of Hericane Alice – dodged that bullet) in Bangalore Choir.
Mo – Hericane Alice bores me…
That’s all I got
31 – 220 Volt
Brett – 220 Volt is one of the true surprises of this list. Their early albums are strong, crunchy metal works, and their new stuff is also very good. But they are making the list because they decided to jump on the bandwagon and try to boost their sales with some hair metal. Now, “Eye to Eye” is their highest selling album in the US, but they went WAY overboard with the generic. They released an even worse album in 1997 called “Lethal Illusion”, but thankfully regained their senses in 2014 and are firmly back on track.
Mo – We seem to be seeing the same story here pretty often, a band starts off promising and for some reason, something or someone causes a change in the music, but nowhere is this more striking than with 220 Volt.
Brett and I had seen the video for “Love is All You Need” and just written them off as one of a million bands we couldn’t be bothered with from the era, but in doing a little more research on them I came across a new video from a band called 220 Volt. I just assumed it was someone new with the same name, because that happens all the time, but I clicked the link out of curiosity, and was blown away.
So I sent Brett the link, and asked him if these were the same guys?
They were / are, except for the new singer.
So Brett went and started listening to their early stuff, and told me how impressed he was.
So was I.
If there’s one band you should listen to on this list so far it’s 220 Volt. The early stuff will appeal to fans of such diverse bands as Iron Maiden and Voivod. Nightwinds” from their first album self titled album is especially impressive. I’ve literally never heard another song like it
And the new stuff is proof this Swedish group is currently one of the best bands on earth.
Brett – I told you I don’t have the Beau Nasty album. But you can borrow my Air Supply Greatest Hits.