The Rest Continued
David Lee Roth
Until recently, this part of the column said "He's not funny, and he never was." I unequivocally retract that and apologise to anyone I misled. DLR is the man. His exuberant personality is so infectious that no matter what he is talking about, I am totally convinced. His March 2004 Classic Rock magazine cover story was an inspiration. Whenever Dave talks about Van Halen, all I want to do is buy all six early VH records and listen to them continuously. That guy could sell oil to Arabs. No, he can't sing, but that's not the point; it's that personality that matters. He's a star entertainer, not a vocalist.
Official website: www.davidleeroth.com
The Scorpions are kind of like Whitesnake: now remembered as a hair band, they actually started in Europe (far from the hair band mecca of LA) long before anyone had coined the term "love metal". At the first opportunity, they jumped into the glam metal explosion for a few mediocre attempts at mining American platinum. Rock Hole verdict: All Scorpions albums suck.
Official website: www.the-scorpions.com
The critics have got a great deal of mileage out of the fact that you can't spell Slaughter without laughter. Well, I have to agree that for the most part Slaughter are a detestable band, most notable for their "Pour Some Sugar on Me" rip off, "Up All Night". They are very much poor clones of Def Leppard and Motley Crue with only Mark Slaughter's stratospheric vocal range to give them any identity of their own (apparently). Still, if you compiled all their good songs you might manage to make a decent EP. Of the hair metal class of 1990, Slaughter join Firehouse as the only successes: Stick It to Ya went double-platinum, and follow up The Wild Life went gold (contrary to Slaughter's lying bio which claims The Wild Life went platinum and the Stick It to Ya Live! EP went gold). Official website: www.slaughterweb.com
Stryper got a lot of attention back in the day for their overtly Christian stance, and metalheads have debated ever since if they were for real. I'm certain they were, because they stood by their beliefs in spite of the heat they took (even the less preachy Against the Law doesn't contradict any of their previous work), and the members have carried on with Christian music long since it stopped getting them any press coverage. They are usually dismissed as cheesier, but they were certainly no cheesier than Poison -- just on a different subject. As for their credibility, Stryper (then called Roxx Regime) were on the LA metal circuit at the same time as Motley Crue and Ratt started out, so they weren't just bandwagon-jumpers. At their best, they were really good, too -- not the most consistent band ever, but capable of penning excellent songs. On the whole much heavier than the other hair bands too -- almost like a good Dokken. Official website: www.stryper.com
I'm not a big fan of European metalů the high pitched, vibrato-crazy operatic voices are a bit embarrassing and sound extremely dated. TNT are a Norwegian band with an American vocalist in Tony Harnell, but he still has the whole wobbly vibrato scream going on. For some reason though, his voice doesn't bother me too much -- maybe the quality of songs just makes up for it. One way or another, I'm a big fan of atmospheric and rousing songs like "Tonight I'm Falling", "Intuition", and "10,000 Lovers", making TNT my favourite Scandinavian band. Official Tony Harnell website: www.tonyharnell.com
Twisted frontman Dee Snider will be the first to admit that behind the outrageous glam image there was no substance whatsoever, except perhaps the sort you abuse. You've got to give Twisted credit though, because they upset America's parents so massively and got hauled before the PMRC as a result -- respect!! Twisted Sister obviously weren't taking anything too eriously, but "We're Not Gonna Take It" is a riotous (and funny) video brimming with attitude and shout-along rebellion, something most chart-friendly pop metal would be devoid of by the end of the '80s. Still, apart from the humour of "I Wanna Rock" and "Be Crool to your Skool" et al, they were pretty crap. The funniest thing about Twisted is that they didn't start out as a joke; they were dead serious (and, at the time, apparently quite shocking). Official website: www.twistedsister.com
Never let it be said I am sexist -- here is my bit for equal opportunities: Vixen, an all-girl band whose appeal has nothing to do with their (actually rather gruesome) looks. Vixen were kind of the female Bon Jovi, and looked worse (and no more feminine) than most of their male glam counterparts. Their debut album was largely written by (male) outsiders, a fact which doubtless did no end of good for the credibility of women in rock [cough]. Still, songs like "Love Made Me", "How Much Love", and "Edge of a Broken Heart" are memorable, slick pop rock songs that stack up well against anything the blokes, or fellow girl-rocker Lita Ford, ever produced. Official website: None that I could find. Check out their page on ArtistDirect: http://ubl.artistdirect.com/music/artist/card/0,,506174,00.html?src=search&artist=Vixen
Visitors to the old Hair Hole site will remember my blasting attack on White Lion. A little premature, perhaps, because it was based entirely on their abysmal Big Game album. I stand by my opinion of that release as one of the lowlights of the '80s. Mike Tramp's voice is still pretty annoying too. The worst thing about White Lion, though, is when they try to get lyrically deep. White Lion took it upon themselves to be the social conscience of heavy metal in the 1980s, and "Lonely Nights", "Broken Home", and "When the Children Cry" are agonising as a result. People can moan all they want about the party-hearty '80s, but trust me, if hair metal was bad when it was about partying, it was appalling when it got serious. That said, Vito Bratta was a serious guitarist (apparently he recently knackered his wrist, dashing all chances of a White Lion reunion -- try not to cry too hard), "Wait" was a serious rock hit. Official website: www.miketramp.com
It's surprising that Winger have become the representative hair metal band that everyone derides and ridicules. There are many worse bands than Winger to pick on. They were in it for the music more than most, and had more talent. Kip Winger was a session musician who had been in Alice Cooper's band and has studied classical composition. Drummer Rod Morganstein was in early '80s fusion virtuosos the Dixie Dregs with the incredible Steve Morse (now in Deep Purple), and is an associate professor of percussion at Berklee. Reb Beach is a phenomenal guitarist and Paul Taylor a respected session man. I pointed this out to a Winger-hater who said "You would never have known it from the music they wrote." That is pure ignorance. They inserted some incredibly tight instrumental moves -- even when the drums come in on "Seventeen" they don't do what you would expect, and Reb's solos can be staggering. Even the chord progressions and arrangements are more complex than your average pop song. It's just the lyrics and of course Kip's looks that attracted the abuse. OKů I'm done defending them now: Talented they were but really most of the songs were nothing special, which is a polite way of saying they were crap. I bought The Very Best of Wingerů and took it back the next day. Official website: www.kipwinger.com
Some other bands which will probably get mentioned on this site eventually: Enuff Z'Nuff, Lita Ford, LA Guns, Lillian Axe, Steelheart, Trixter, Tyketto, and WASP. Then there's the post-hair bands -- bands who emerged after corporate metal died a death but have done well in the underground melodic rock scene: Harem Scarem, Ten, and Jaded Heart among them.
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