The hair bands that didn't make my other pages in alphabetical order
Before I begin, I'd like to point out that I'm only discussing bands I have something to say about. Thanks a lot to Netscape Radio's Hair Metal channel, where I've heard a lot of stuff I wouldn't have otherwise.
I can sum up Britny Fox in one line: It was formed by people who were rejected from the original line-up of Cinderella. I should really stop there, because it's really much funnier left at that. I can't though, because although similar to Cinderella, Britny wrote some good tunes in their career. They're no more than hair metal also-rans, but if you're a big fan of that kind of music, you'll find something to dig. Man. Official website: www.britnyfox.com
It's a bit debatable whether or not Damn Yankees were a hair band, but I wouldn't like to meet the person sad enough to actually debate it. OK, I'll explain the argument: They arrived in 1989 (when hair metal reigned supreme), but Ted Nugent was already famous for being a 70s rockstar, Jack Blades was from Night Ranger, who were really more of an AOR band, and Tommy Shaw was from pomp-rockers Styx, so Damn Yankees don't have their roots in hair metal. Their debut was strong but not actually as good as you'd expect from a supergroup of such rich origins. Still "High Enough" was the hit ballad everyone in the 80s had to have, and Damn Yankees did alright out of it (double platinum). Follow-up Don't Tread is now very hard to find but universally deemed inferior to the fist album. There was actually a third DY album cut for Portrait Records in 2000 but the band were so unhappy with the mix they refused to let it be released, or so says Nuge. It's unlikely to ever see the light of day. Jack Blades and Tommy Shaw have since become a successful songwriting duo, working with Aerosmith and, erů Great White. Members' official websites: www.tommyshaw.com, www.tnugent.com
Most hair metal bands were really just pop-rock with teased hair but Dokken are one of the few who genuinely deserve the label "metal". Their sound has more to do with the darker, more aggressive sound of bands like Dio, and lyrically they're a bit more inclined that way too. Unfortunately, I find this dungeons & dragons metal far more pompous and laughable than "Talk Dirty to Me" could ever be. Nope, I can't abide Dokken. Since I first wrote this, someone emailed me several times insisting that Dokken are not dark, but rather, and I quote "relationship rock". Well there's a recommendation, huh folks! "Relationship rock"! Sound exciting to me. In any case, the music is still crappy and dark sounding. Official website: www.dokken.net
Firehouse were the absolute last successful hair metal band to arrive on the scene (September 1990). By then, the era of the power-ballad was in full swing and probably few suspected that its demise was just around the corner. Firehouse landed with a self-titled CD that went double platinum thanks to, yes, a power ballad, "Love of a Lifetime". The other huge hit from this album is "Don't Treat Me Bad", and I'm glad of that because it's a pop-metal classic. As for the rest of it, I wish I'd discovered this band when I was 10 or 12 years old, because I used to love this high-tech metal stuff back then. Now, well, it's OK, but apart from a few gems the majority of their debut doesn't have hooks that grab me. When Firehouse returned to follow-up their debut, grunge had arrived and they struggled to go gold. They're still around, releasing albums periodically. You'll see them on those summer package tours. Firehouse's singles are catchy pop-metal, but their album tracks are more -- I'm struggling for a comparison here -- I guess a cleaner sounding and less dark Dokken. Well anyway, apparently since the debut they've pursued a lighter road with occasional modern touches; maybe I'd prefer the newer stuff. Official website: www.firehousemusic.com
Consecutive platinum albums they may have had, but Great White are really not very good. They'd like to be a bluesy hard rock band like Aerosmith or Led Zeppelin but they just don't carry it off. John Kalodner showed an uncharacteristic lack of judgement in signing them to his Portrait label in 1999 and the resulting album (complete with two good songs) sold in numbers so tiny that, image and sound aside, they almost qualified as a hip underground band. But then, if you're going to get in an outside writer to help with the songs, what kind of idiot hires Don Dokken? Great White's biggest hit was "Once Bitten, Twice Shy" -- a cover song. I think that says it all. Official website: www.mistabone.com
Guns 'n' Roses
Everyone already knows GnR so there'd be no point in mentioning them here if I weren't going to say anything controversial, right? OK, well, first off, if you question Guns' inclusion in a list of big hair bands, go and watch the "Welcome to the Jungle" video again, checking out the 'dos. In the process, you will hear their only good song. Whenever something has as much hype around it as Appetite for Destruction, you can be pretty sure it doesn't have a chance of ever living up to that hype. GnR may have been a pleasant change from all the pretty boys in 1988, but that doesn't make their album any good. The way I see it, GnR are great in every area except the music: Great image, great media circus, great attitude. Just not the songs to back it up; kind of the inverse of Tesla, who are boring, ugly, and faceless but make unbelievably kicking records. Guns have managed to pen enough great smash hit singles to make it seem like they have the music to back up the big talk, but the album tracks... Official website: who cares?
When you think about it, Kiss were pretty much hair metal before there was hair metal, from the sound down to their make-up, hair, and huge stage show. When their popularity began to wane, they should have broken up and come back in 1996 without having tarnished the Kiss name. Of course, they were in it for the money, so they kept going in the '80s minus the make-up, the only thing that set them above the million other pop-metal bands of the '80s. Without it, they were just another run of the mill band. However, the '80s Kiss put out some good rock anthems -- the UK smash "Crazy Crazy Nights", the (unintentionally) hilarious "Let's Put the 'X' in Sex", "Lick It Up", and the MTV hit "Heaven's on Fire" among them.
Official website: www.kissonline.com
One thing you'll notice about Kix is that even though they never sold anything like the amount they deserved to, they get respect from people who consider hair metal in general to be about as enjoyable as putting your arm in a blender. Their sound was nothing groundbreaking -- sort of AC/DC gone pop-metal, with a little early Def Leppard influence. The humour so sorely lacking from such releases as Whitesnake 1987 is both abundant and self-deprecating with Kix, and this combined with some enjoyable songwriting makes for albums that are still fun today. Unofficial Kix website: www.chuckjoiner.com/kix/kix.html
I have to mention Krokus just because they keep getting played on the Spinner.com Hair Metal radio channel and they are the most dismally poor band I have ever suffered the displeasure of hearing on a regular basis. Official website: I hope not!
While I feel that Dokken are one of the worst bands to emerge from the hair metal era, I like Lynch Mob a lot. George Lynch was always a great guitarist and fellow ex-Dokken cohort, drummer "Wild" Mick Brown, joins him here in a far better outlet for both of their talents. It's only the first two albums that are any cop (later incarnations of the 'Mob involved ill-advised attempts at industrial metal), but the extra melody, funk, and R&B elements in Lynch Mob's sound make for a pretty enjoyable band. On holiday in America two years ago, I saw Lynch Mob for sale in a pawn shop for $3, and to this day I regret not buying it. Official website: www.georgelynch.com
Although my CD collection is Riot-free, they're deserving of a mention here because they had the first US #1 metal album -- Metal Health. Quite why that album should have done so well (SIX times platinum!!) is beyond me. Their cover of "Cum On Feel the Noize" is cool, and "Slick Black Cadillac" is a big sing-along number, but songs like "Bang Your Head" or "Condition Critical" (from the album of the same name) are just dire. Quiet Riot are still around though, and actually what I've heard of their recent material bordered on the good. Official website: www.quietriotonline.com
THE REST CONTINUED: MORE BANDS ON THE NEXT PAGE!