Which band of the '80s deserved to make it huge and didn't? Was it Black n' Blue, who had the support of Kiss, Aerosmith, Bon Jovi and A&R guru John Kalodner? How about Shark Island, who contributed two songs to the Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure soundtrack? Well, nope, it was Danger Danger. At their best, they're better than even Def Leppard or Bon Jovi, but fortunately for those Big Guns of hard rock, Danger Danger don't reach their very best that often.
Danger Danger vs. Warrant: The Big Fight
The way I see it, hair metal happened in waves: There was the original scene in the early '80s. Motley Crue and Def Leppard had huge success and then a whole bunch of others busted out in their wake. Then after Slippery When Wet and Hysteria hair metal became a complete bandwagon. Record companies saw there was a quick buck to be made and in the wake of those blockbuster albums band after band was signed. It was hair metal's glory era, but the overkill of so many bands with the same sound and image eventually destroyed itself.
Well, both Danger Danger (D2 to their fans) and Warrant (er, Warrant to their fans) were on that last wave of hair metal but they were two of the better bands (and let's face it, some of them were pretty atrocious). They both released their major label debuts in 1989, and sophomore albums in 1991. The difference is that Warrant's first two albums were certified double platinum in the States and they were probably the most successful band of that last wave of hair metal bands. Danger Danger never even got a gold disc.
I'm not dissing Warrant. I like their first two CDs a lot. Still, Danger Danger is a better CD than Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinking Rich, released the same year. "Downboys" was a great single from Warrant but "Bang Bang" is just one of the best rock anthems you'll ever hear. It's not that original, granted; it could fit nicely onto Bon Jovi's Slippery When Wet album, but what it lacks in creativity it more than makes up for in catchiness, sing-along potential, and the all-important adrenaline-pumping factor. "Heaven" was Warrant's big hit ballad, but again, "One Step from Paradise" is simply better. OK, so not every song on D2's debut was a classic but DRFSR is a massively patchy affair as well. It went US double platinum; Danger Danger should gave sold three million in the States.
Then in 1991 came Cherry Pie and Screw It! from Warrant and D2 respectively. Now, Cherry Pie is a very consistent album, and there isn't a really bad track to be found anywhere on it. Screw It, on the other hand, features some absolute embarrassments in "Horny SOB" and "Get Your S**t Together". To its credit though, Screw It has no less than four storming rock classics with enormous choruses and simply great arrangements and hooks. For the record, they are "Monkey Business", "Beat the Bullet", "Crazy Nites", and "Don't Blame It On Love", all of which are better than any of the best moments from Cherry Pie. Think of "Livin' on a Prayer", by Bon Jovi; it was awesome, but the best bit by far was the chorus, right? The verse plodded along in a likeable way but the action started with "She says we gotta hold on…" You know what I mean? Danger Danger anthems aren't like that. Songs like "Crazy Nites" are massive from the get-go, with upbeat sing-along verses, catchy pre-choruses, and gigantic harmonised choruses. The ace up their sleeve is guitarist Andy Timmons, a first rate shredder now signed as a solo artist to Steve Vai's label.
So well done Warrant, who managed to shift getting on for 5 million copies of their first three albums in the States alone. It really is a massive injustice that Danger Danger never achieved stardom though. After the first couple of albums the D2 story gets complicated; it involves a singer change and a lawsuit; you can read about it in the liner notes of their Cockroach CD. Anyway, to cut a long story short D2 have cult status in the melodic rock underground and have continued to put out albums with new vocalist Paul Laine. Their sound is less happy '80s party rock now (they've lost the hair metal vibe) and a bit more serious and aggressive, but nevertheless melodic and classy. I emailed their bassist, producer, and songwriter Bruno Ravel and he emailed me back. I guess that kind of attention to their fans is what has kept them going.
In 2004, ending months of speculation by all five remaining Danger Danger fans, a reunion with original singer Ted Poley was announced. Rumours of Ted's return had been fuelled by Paul Laine's "Shugaazer" solo project, and comments by Mr. Laine in an interview in which he said he would support a reunion of the original D2 lineup. Touring plans were hatched including an appearance at Sweden Rock 2004, but no new album was planned.
Best album: Well, although as I mentioned it has some very weak moments, the high points on Screw It! are so immense that it has to be their best. Aside from those four upbeat rock songs I mentioned, you'll also find "Slipped Her the Big One" and "Everybody Wants Some". You can tell from the titles that the lyrical content is hardly Shakespearean, but they are both strong slower rockers in the vein of Def Leppard's "Pour Some Sugar on Me". Andy Timmons displays some fantastic fretwork throughout, and if you have suitably juvenile humour, the closing "Yeah, You Want It" is a Beastie Boys rap song featuring members of Extreme. If you like… well, if you have a heartbeat you should enjoy this album. My brother likes it and he has an uncanny ability to discern hits… nuff said. Screw It is now available as a reamaster featuring the bonus track "Just What the Doctor Ordered" and a live EP. The best way to listen to Screw It is to stop being so grown up and laugh at the tongue-in-cheek of "Slipped Her the Big One" et al. When you do, it becomes almost unbelievably good fun
Official website: www.dangerdanger.com
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