Warrant are famous far beyond their fanbase for their "Pour Some Sugar on Me" rip off "Cherry Pie" which was almost as much of a hit as Def Leppard's original track. Singer Jani Lane, however, insists that the song was not his idea. The album was completed without the track but the label demanded an anthem. Lane complied with "Cherry Pie", written in 45 minutes. Prior to that, the album title and lead off single were to have been Uncle Tom's Cabin. This song is a semi-credible hard rock track loved by the same hard rock fans who despise Cherry Pie. So some people think that had this been the lead off single, history would accord Warrant far more success.
Here's what would have really happened. "Uncle Tom's Cabin" would have charted little higher than its actual eventual US peak of #83. As a result, the album wouldn't have sold in anything like such big numbers. Warrant would be a less ridiculed band, but not due to higher credibility, but because no one would remember them.
Warrant were hit pretty bad by grunge. Well, to say that is a bit like saying a hedgehog would be in bad shape after a close encounter of the 18-wheeler kind. Warrant were annihilated. In 1993 the goodwill left over from their multi-platinum previous two albums was enough to take Dog Eat Dog to gold status but by the mid-90s Warrant were receiving death threats. To the grunge community, they were the anti-Christ. This is one of the lame things about grunge. For all its "everyone's accepted" propaganda, their hatred of hair metal was simply irrational. They didn't like it -- fine. If history had been reversed and Warrant had wiped out Pearl Jam, though, I don't think hair metal would have hated grunge with anything like the same fury. I think Warrant were a particular target for grunge because "Cherry Pie" had the misfortune to be one of the last big hair metal hits, landing as it did in 1991, the year of Nevermind. Miserable luck.
Thing is that "Cherry Pie" is the only thing anyone remembers about Warrant, but there are other songs worthy of attention. The Cherry Pie album also included "Uncle Tom's Cabin", which lyrically and musically is pretty cool. Then there's "I Saw Red", which has more depth than your average power ballad, but becomes even more poignant when you discover it's based on a true story. Yep, Jani Lane walked in on his best friend in bed with his girlfriend and his resulting nervous breakdown delayed the Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinking Rich LP for months. The entire album was finished apart from Jani's vocals. Anyway, my general point is that although they did do big, dumb party-rock songs like "Cherry Pie", they had material that was a lot less silly, if silliness bothers you. You've probably noticed by now (unless this is the first page you've read on this web site) that silliness really doesn't bother me in the slightest. I even quite like it.
The most worrying thing about Warrant is that they have proved what trend-following sellouts they were in the last decade: with "Ultraphobic" and "Belly 2 Belly", Warrant jumped on the grunge bandwagon with the same alacrity they had chased after Poison less than a decade before. And Jani is incapable of playing one of their hits live without apologising for it first.
These days, it's not such a terrible sin to be in a hair band as it was in 1996. I mean, it's not at the point where you could use "Hey baby, I'm in Winger," as a pick-up line, but the insults have become more harmlessly humorous and less malevolent. Jani Lane gets the odd column inch, but these days it's either about rumours that he's working as a chef (I won't bother to tell you the truth about that story because it's much less funny), or about not bothering to turn up for a show because he's too busy on a drinking binge. Or perhaps someone will feel the need to remind us that he now weighs approximately the same amount as an industrial deep-freeze. These things don't bother me. Living in Britain as I do, I will probably never see Warrant live so I don't care if he bails on a show. And he may be a beached whale now, but since I will never see Warrant live, this does not affect me. None of those things change the fact that he was one of the most accomplished songwriters of the '80s (he wrote virtually every song Warrant have ever put out single-handedly) and I'm pretty sure that he has some good songs left in him if Warrant ever do get around to an all-new studio album.
I can't stand them, but no one will deny that Queensryche were cool back in 1990. So I'll tell you this interesting little story: When Warrant were opening for the 'Ryche, one evening the crowd booed Warrant during their set. Geoff Tate came onstage and demanded "Don't you dare boo our opening act, because we wouldn't have them if we didn't like them." Make of that what you will.
Latest Warrant news is that Jani Lane is out, original members Steven Sweet and Joey Allen are back, and the new singer is former Black n' Blue frontman Jaime St. James. Personally, I find it fascinating that they expect to find a market when the guy who wrote and sang all the hits (and the only guy non-Warrant fans might be able to name as a member of Warrant) is no longer in the band and the new guy is from a hair band that no one listened to even in the '80s.
Best album: In a Metal Sludge interview, Jani said that all the Warrant albums sucked (!), but the new one (the one that was in the works although presumably has been scuppered by Jani's split with the band) is great. Whatever. Dog Eat Dog was probably their heaviest and most serious release. Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinking Rich was a decent debut with some great songs in "Downboys", "Big Talk", and the ballad "Sometimes She Cries" (actually much better than the US #2 hit "Heaven"). Cherry Pie is a far more consistently strong album though, and stands out as their best. Further standout cuts to those already discussed include "Bed of Roses" and "Mr. Rainmaker", but most of the tracks are solid.
Official website: www.warrantweb.net Warrant Street Team website: www.warrant2k.com
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