music2small

Petty Obsession: Hair Metal you never hear in the movies

 

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With the resurgence of all things 80s in the last decade, it was inevitable that hair metal would have some kind of renewed popularity, but even so, its respectability is surprising. Mötley Crüe for instance, seem to have far more credibility now than they did (in the UK at least) back in the 80s. Which is nice and all, but it’s a bit disappointing that posterity has largely selected the same tired selection of Guns ‘n’ Roses, Def Leppard & Bon Jovi songs as definitive of the era. Especially sad when there were so many great albums released that failed to have much impact, even the first time round. Such as…

Easy Action – Easy Action (Tandon, 1983)

easy
This Swedish glam band was influenced by 70s glam rock and especially by Hanoi Rocks (look at the album cover) and featured singer Zinny Zan (later of Shotgun Messiah) and Kee Marcello, who would resurface a few years later in Europe. Pretty much every track is a perfect bubblegum glam masterpiece; so much so that Poison pinched the melody of ‘We Go Rocking’ for their own classic, ‘I Want Action’. There are two versions of this album; the original is the best as they re-recorded standout track ‘The End of the Line’ in a less good, slow version for the rerelease.

The song that should be used on the soundtrack to some lame movie: All of them! (except maybe the somehow not-so-great opening track ‘Rocket Ride’)

D’Molls – Warped  (Atlantic, 1990)

dmolls
D’Molls were from Chicago and their self-titled debut of 1988 featured a couple of truly great hair metal anthems (notably ‘D’Stroll’ and ‘777’) alongside a lot of forgettable dross. Not so follow-up Warped, which despite being released at the tail end of the glam era is as sleazy and catchy as ever, but with a lot more heart.

The song that should be used on the soundtrack to some lame movie: several, including the great ‘My Life’ and über-ballad ‘This Time It’s Love’

Faster Pussycat – Faster Pussycat (Elektra, 1987)

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If there was any justice in the world this album would be as well known as Appetite For Destruction – in many ways Faster Pussycat are similar to early G’n’R, but they have far more character and a kind of New York Dolls-ish soulful atmosphere which is admittedly less MTV-friendly than Axl and co. Taime Downe is, to my ears a far more likeable vocalist than Axl, and whereas G’n’R always seemed destined for stadiums, Faster Pussycat are more suited to the sleazy dive; and they sound all the better for it.

The song that should be used on the soundtrack to some lame movie: take your pick – ‘Bathroom Wall’ or ‘Ship Rolls In’ would be as good as any.

Fastway – Treat or Treat OST (CBS,1986)

fast
Fastway weren’t really a hair metal band; but (partly thanks to the movie it was written for) Trick or Treat is totally a hair metal album.

The song that should be used on the soundtrack to some lame movie: They already were, but ‘After Midnight’ is a towering AC/DC style classic.

Glorious Bankrobbers – Dynamite Sex Doze (Planet, 1989)

dynamite
It’s surprising that Swedish glamsters Glorious Bankrobbers aren’t better known; their version of hair metal is tougher and more rock ‘n’ roll than many of their contemporaries; far more in tune with modern taste in fact, being somewhat similar to bands like Duff McKagan’s Loaded (albeit with catchier tunes).

The song that should be used on the soundtrack to some lame movie: ‘Hair Down’, despite some fairly laughable lyrics.

Hanoi Rocks – Two Steps From the Move (CBS, 1984)

hanoi
Hanoi Rocks were arguably the architects of hair metal; but they mostly weren’t actually metal at all, as this classic pop/rock album proves. 1983’s Back To Mystery City is even less hard-edged but just as good.

The song that should be used on the soundtrack to some lame movie: ‘Don’t You Ever Leave Me’ – the perfect hair ballad, or on a more classic hair metal note, ‘High School’

Dogs D’Amour – In the Dynamite Jet Saloon (China, 1988)

dogsdamourDynamiteJet
On the whole, UK glam bands tended to imitate the style and sound of their US counterparts, but the micro-scene that included Dogs D’Amour and The Quireboys had an altogether rougher, more shambolic (not to say drunken) atmosphere. The music was scruffier too; less metal, more romantic, but on this classic sophomore release Dogs D’Amour managed to keep it all together and produce a set of classic and predictably whisky-sodden rock anthems.

The song that should be used on the soundtrack to some lame movie: ‘How Come It Never Rains’ – simply a great, melancholy-yet-uplifting rock song.

Helter Skelter – Welcome to the World Of Helter Skelter (Noise, 1988)

skelter
SILLY but great, this album has more than its fair share of ultra-catchy, not at all heavy songs and one misleadingly hard rock opening song. The cover art is almost like a kids TV version of the Pretty Boy Floyd album. The band did in fact have a silly furry mascot.

The song that should be used on the soundtrack to some lame movie: so many to choose from but today I’m saying towering feelgood anthem ‘Innocent Girls’

Kingpin – Welcome to Bop City (CMM, 1988)

kingpinThe best glam metal album ever? 100% glam and tacky and 100% metal, Kingpin was Zinny Zan’s follow-up to Easy Action. After the album bombed they relocated to the US, changed their name to Shotgun Messiah and re-recorded this same album in a slightly inferior form. They still weren’t massively successful though.

The song that should be used on the soundtrack to some lame movie: ‘Don’t Care ‘Bout Nothin’ – but they are all appropriate

Anthem – Gyspy Ways (King, 1988)

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Japanese glam, less well known than Loudness or E-Z-O but probably a bit better than both.

 

The song that should be used on the soundtrack to some lame movie: ‘Midnight Sun’

 

Lion – Dangerous Attraction (Scotti Bros, 1987)

lion
Strangely unknown album, full of great, classy hair metal, a tiny bit like Ratt, only marginally heavier.

The song that should be used on the soundtrack to some lame movie: ‘In the Name Of Love’

 

Madam X – We Reserve The Right (Jet, 1984)

Most famous as being the band where the Petrucci sisters (of Vixen) and Sebastian Bach (of Skid Row) started out, this album is essentially a hair metal cheese festival: great. Sadly, Sebastian was not in the lineup that recorded the album.

 

The song that should be used on the soundtrack to some lame movie: ‘We Want Rock’

 

Nasty Idols – Gigolos on Parole (HSM, 1989)

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This slightly weak Swedish glam album is strong on attitude but sadly not songs; there are a couple of great ones though.

 

The song that should be used on the soundtrack to some lame movie: Undoubtedly ‘Gimme What I Want’ – classic.

 

Phantom Blue – Phantom Blue (Shrapnel, 1989)

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Quite heavy for a glam-ish album, this is simply excellent 80s metal made by glamorous ladies.

 

The song that should be used on the soundtrack to some lame movie: ‘Why Call It Love’

 

Pretty Boy Floyd – Leather Boyz with Electric Toyz (MCA, 1989)

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One of the all-time great hair metal albums; look at the cover! Plus, every song is a sleazy, feelgood anthem. They were just too late to be huge, but they should have been.

The song that should be used on the soundtrack to some lame movie: ALL OF THEM

Shout – In Your Face (Music For Nations, 1989)

shout
If the idea of Christian hair metal seems anything other than genius to you then I pity you. Like all hair metal, Shout are inherently ridiculous, but take it to another level. At the same time, it’s just good; kind of Whitesnake-ish bluesy hair metal, with lots of heartfelt, nearly-but-not-quite-preachy lyrics.

The song that should be used on the soundtrack to some lame movie: ‘Waiting’

Show & Tell – Overnight Sensation (Medusa, 1988)

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Quite bad indie hair-metal but they WANT to be famous so badly that they can’t help being likeable. Plus they do have a couple of songs that survive the threadbare production values.

The song that should be used on the soundtrack to some lame movie: ‘Hairspray Blues’

Sleeze Beez – Screwed, Blued and Tattooed (Atlantic, 1990)

sleeze

 Very Americanised Dutch glam; and good stuff too, a bit like White Lion.

The song that should be used on the soundtrack to some lame movie: ‘Stranger Than Paradise’

Tigertailz – Young & Crazy (Music For Nations, 1987)

tigertailz

The ultimate UK hair metal band. Despite their very MTV image there is a British tinge to their hair metal sound, kind of Duran Duran-meets-Motley Crue.

The song that should be used on the soundtrack to some lame movie: ‘She’z Too Hot’

 

 

Alien – Cosmic Fantasy (Ultranoise, 1984)

ALIEN

I don’t know much about Alien, but this is a very peculiar mini-album, a mix of classic hair metal and some spacey psychedelic bits – not great, but SOME of it is great.

 

The song that should be used on the soundtrack to some lame movie: ‘Don’t Say Goodbye’

Wrathchild (UK) – Stakk Attakk (Heavy metal records, 1985)

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Complete trash with a 70s glam rock feel and some classic, basic anthems.

The song that should be used on the soundtrack to some lame movie: ‘Trash Queen’

Coney Hatch – Friction (Vertigo, 1985)

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Maybe more ‘melodic hard rock’ than true hair metal, but utterly 80s and very good, this album has a plethora of catchy, atmospheric tunes.

The song that should be used on the soundtrack to some lame movie: ‘The Girl From Last Night’s Dream’

Celtic Frost – Cold Lake (Noise, 1988)

celtic
Famously disastrous for Swiss black/death metal legends Celtic Frost, this is a uniquely dark & sleazy glam classic that sounds like no other.

The song that should be used on the soundtrack to some lame movie: ‘Petty Obsession’

Nitro – O.F.R. (Rampage, 1989)

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Hair metal taken to its farthest extreme, this is a horrendously overbearing album made by a group of over-talented music teachers. A headache waiting to happen, but it does have its moments.

The song that should be used on the soundtrack to some lame movie: ‘Freight Train’

 

 

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