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The Last Years of 80s Hair Metal, Part V: Miscellaneous Debris…

Posted in Entertainment, Music with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 29, 2022 by Mike

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

In the fall of 1990, Alice in Chains released Facelift, preceding Nirvana’s Nevermind and Pearl Jam’s Ten by a year. Now, Nirvana had already released Bleach (1989), but that sold only about 40000 copies so, sure, you knew about Nirvana before “Smells Like Teen Spirit” hit MTV. Right. Of course, there was also Soundgarden, who had released Ultramega OK (1988) and Louder Than Love (1989) so it’s important to understand that Seattle bands were already there, they just weren’t nationally known (don’t come at me with Mother Love Bone and Mudhoney – I know about them, too).

Alice in Chains definitely began changing the music scene. I remember walking into Marooned Records as a freshman at Texas A&M and seeing Facelift alongside Warrant’s Cherry Pie and thinking, damn, that album cover is freaky-looking. Then I bought Cherry Pie and AC/DC’s The Razor’s Edge and spent the next couple months rocking out to them. So, yeah, it took some time for my musical preferences to shift to grunge. Here’s a couple more obscure albums that kept me in hair metal my freshman year of college.

I KNOW I owned this album, but I also know I haven’t thought about this band since 1991. Then, about two months ago, Chauncey and Freddie were taking an internet break from their work in the school library, went down a wormhole and found an article listing the top 50 hair metal acts of all time (or some such). Kik Tracee came in at the upper 40s, I forget where. Before coming back to the album for this post, I only clearly recalled the single “Don’t Need Rules“, a fairly standard hair metal number. Listening to the rest of the album, I admit there’s not a lot more I do remember – maybe “Velvet Crush” and “Rattlesnake Eyes (Strawberry Jam)“. Stephen Shareaux’s voice suggests Axl Rose from time to time, particularly on “Big Western Sky“. Their cover of “Mrs. Robinson” does exactly what a cover should – put a new spin on the original – though I’m not sure it makes the song something I’d ever listen to again. Thinking about it, No Rules may very well have been the last hair metal debut album I bought, as by mid ’91 I was moving on to heavy metal and grunge.

This one’s a bit of a cheat, as Follow for Now isn’t hair metal. This album IS obscure and fits the time frame, though, so I’m throwing it in just so you can be introduced to/be reminded of the kick-ass “Milkbone“. Credit my twin brother for my finding this one, as I think he was working at a Hastings in Seguin at this point and was able to acquire basically anything he thought was cool, and this album’s cool. Combining a lot of different influences (rap, metal, blues, funk), the album never found a wide audience and was the band’s only release. Beyond “Milkbone”, the album boasts a cover of Public Enemy’s “She Watch Channel Zero” (in the words of Flavor Flav, “Daamn, Boy!”) and then there’s “Time“, reminiscent of Faith No More’s “Zombie Eaters”. “Fire N’ Snakes“, “6’s and 7’s” and “Evil Wheel” bring the funk. Listen to “White Hood” and “Trust” and maybe you’ll understand Colin Kaepernick wasn’t saying anything that Black Americans haven’t been saying, oh, forever.

I think if this album was released a couple years later than it was, it blows up.

My last year of teaching I’m going to do a unit on figurative language and use hair metal song lyrics as my examples, starting with Salty Dog’s “Come Along” (“Sweet little baby, she’s my hot dog bun”). Silly lyrics aside, “Come Along” still ROCKS – I can listen to that one ten times in a row. “Cats Got Nine“, “Ring My Bell” “Heave Hard (She Comes Easy)” – Every Dog Has Its Day is unabashedly crotch rock and it’s fun. Lead singer Jimmi Bleacher’s vocals wail (reminding me a bit of Cinderella’s Tom Kieffer, though Bleacher’s practically smirking in every song), and really highlights how having a distinctive singer makes the band. While there are plenty of riffs throughout the album (“Slow Daze“), they emphasize the blues rock with a cover of “Spoonful” and “Just Like a Woman“, and “Lonesome Fool” just has a great hook and banjo line.

Why just one album then? It’s actually pretty damned funny (to me, probably not to the band): the members apparently weren’t told they had to pay back their studio recording costs. And being on the tail-end of the genre, I don’t know that they ever got even. Still a damn good album.

Next time: I’m wrapping this series up.