The Last Years of 80s Hair Metal, Part IV: 1989 – 3 albums that WEREN’T Dr. Feelgood…

Hair metal peaked with Appetite for Destruction. Here’s what came after…

1989’s biggest hair metal release was inarguably Mötley Crüe’s Dr. Feelgood. It spent two weeks as Billboard’s number one album that year and includes at least five songs strip clubs still have on heavy rotation to this day. Er, so I’ve been told.

But odds are Feelgood isn’t the only hair metal album you remember from that year: Skid Row’s debut album was released in January (giving us “Youth Gone Wild“, “18 and Life” and “I Remember You“) and Warrant would follow with their Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinking Rich (“Down Boys“, the ballads “Sometimes She Cries” and “Heaven“). Other established acts like White Lion, Tesla, and Great White offered up notable albums as well (like me, I’m sure you still have GW’s “Once Bitten, Twice Shy” imprinted on your brain despite all your best efforts).

But, as you know by now, I’m not here to tell you about stuff you remember. Here are three more albums I was listening to back in the summer of ’89:

Tora Tora’s Surprise Attack begins with a rocker, “Love’s a Bitch“, and demonstrates everything this band had going for it: their vocalist, Anthony Corder, has a high-pitched wail that rivals Vince Neil’s at times and their lead guitarist, Keith Douglas, just spits out riff after riff. Corder’s vocals, for me, distanced Tora Tora from other bands, and their Tennessee roots are prominent in bluesy numbers like “Hard Times” and “Walking Shoes“. “Guilty” and “Walking Shoes” were the singles that led me to buy the album – listen for the guitar stutter after the first chorus in “Guilty” to get an idea what I found awesome as a 17 year old non-guitar player (I still do, actually). “Walking Shoes” is just fun – if you don’t like this one do you even like music? Sure, some songs are pretty standard stuff – “She’s Good, She’s Bad“, “One For the Road“, I’m looking at you – though I’m finding I can still sing along to most tracks 30 years later.

I mentioned Bang Tango in an earlier post when I explained funk metal. They still had one foot in the glam scene (see album cover) but their bass line-heavy tunes help differentiate them from, say, Poison. What I think will grab your attention is singer Joe Leste’s scream-like singing. The first track, “Attack of Life” will initially surprise with its vocals. Coming back to the album, many of these songs have incredibly catchy choruses – “Someone Like You” was the band’s single (and one I still listened to even before starting this series of posts), “Breaking Up a Heart of Stone“‘s makes up a bit for the Leste’s crooning lyrics, and just try NOT singing to “Wrap My Wings“. “Don’t Stop Now” (another fun one) and “Love Injection” (heh) are heavy on the funk and the album’s contributions to the crotch rock playlist. The band would release Dancin’ On Coals in 1991 but folded when their third album was shelved by their record company.

You probably don’t need to listen to this one.

THIS IS A SONG ABOUT A FISH! AND FISH ARE BAD! BAAAD!

Hair metal wasn’t all about girls and partying. It was also about juvenile humor. Lord Tracy combined all three into Deaf Gods of Babylon, an admittedly ridiculous album that combines any number of different styles into something that kind of works – kind of. Named for a popular porn star (er, so I’m told) it was led by former Pantera singer Terry Glaze and there’s not a song on the album that should be taken seriously. There’s guitar heroics (the 30 second “Barney’s Wank”) and anthem rockers (“Whatchadoin'” and “In Your Eyes”). AC/DC has an influence (“Submission” and “She’s A Bitch”) and even some bluesy numbers (“King of the Nighttime Cowboys” and “East Coast Rose”). “Out With the Boys” was their one real single, though you may have missed the one time it got played on the radio. They also venture into Beastie Boys/RUN DMC territory with “3 H.C.” “Piranha” is their thrash metal song about the existential dangers faced when we realize just how alone we are…wait, no, it’s just about the fish.

Hey, you want thoughtful lyrics, you’re reading the wrong blog. Go listen to “Jeremy” or something…

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