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

Posted in Entertainment, Music with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on March 17, 2022 by Mike

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.


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…

The last years of 80s Hair Metal – Intro.

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on February 10, 2022 by Mike

A look back at some albums you probably don’t remember…

I was a teenager through most of the ’80s and as such lived through the heyday of hair metal (otherwise known as glam metal, pop metal, or my favorite, “crotch rock”, as these bands’ lyrics often revolved around getting laid). I’d assume most people over 40 have some association with this music as bands like Mötley Crüe, Bon Jovi and Poison tended to stick around the Billboard charts during the late 80s, competing with more traditional pop acts like Madonna, Phil Collins and Michael Jackson, though songs by all could be heard on any mainstream pop station then (I’m thinking back to Dallas’s 97.1 The Eagle right now).

Hair metal would culminate with Guns N’ Roses’ Appetite for Destruction (1987), just a monstrous rock album without a loser of a song on it. This album gave us “Paradise City”, “Welcome to the Jungle” and “Sweet Child o’ Mine”, all songs you’d hear in heavy rotation on any pop/rock radio station from 1987 onward but also songs you STILL listen to today (if you’re still reading this post you know you do). While Guns N’ Roses would continue to see a great deal of success with their Use Your Illusion follow up double album (and the multitude of film-like MTV videos it spawned). nothing GNR put out would ever match their first album, and after Illusion GNR ended up devolving into Axl Rose’s seemingly decades long Chinese Democracy vanity project.

Now, there is the argument that GNR wasn’t actually “hair metal” – that they were hard rock and I understand the objection: the songs off Appetite had a different feel to them when compared to, say, Poison’s Look What the Cat Dragged In from the year before or even Crüe’s Girls, Girls, Girls released the same year as Appetite. Still, GNR had pretty strong ties to the L.A. glam scene, and early on the band’s appearance reflected some of those influences. If anything, GNR’s emergence marked a need for bands to start moving away from the pop metal scene (not many did), but the sheer popularity of its music was similar to most other inarguable hair bands at the time. I doubt many contemporaries would make a huge distinction – even GNR deliberately competed to take away Crüe’s “bad boys” crown that first year.

I say Appetite was the culmination of the hair metal genre as after 1987, while a lot of hair metal was still to come (as this series of blogs I’m planning will illustrate), Appetite proved to be a cultural touchstone – nothing matched it. Sure, 1989 saw Mötley Crüe release the hugely popular Dr. Feelgood and Skid Row’s self-titled album debuted the same year, but the die had been cast – everything after felt “been there, done that.” Hair metal bands weren’t able to offer up anything actually new and then along came Nirvana and the rest of the grunge scene to put the genre down for good. I mean, Mötley Crüe released three albums after Feelgood, and Poison released at least four after Open Up and Say…Ahh – can you name any one of them?

In 1987 I turned 15 and by that point was cutting my teeth on established 80s rock acts: Def Leppard, Bon Jovi, The Cars, and other bands that filled the airwaves at the time. From 1987 through 1990 I bought A LOT of hair metal albums. These cassette tapes would end up littering the floor of my ’81 Buick Regal as I made my way through high school and filling up storage cases placed beside the boxes of comic books I collected. Posters of these bands would decorate the walls of my bedroom over the next few years (I never broke my mom of the habit of calling GNR “Blood and Guts” when she would enter my room) and I even made it to a few concerts at what was then Starplex Amphitheatre.

What I’m saying is, when I was 17, I LOVED those bands.

So, for a reason I’ll get into later, I’ve decided to take a look at some of those bands’ albums I was listening to as I was finishing high school. Not the albums everyone remembers – I don’t really feel the need to look back at Ratt’s Reach for the Sky and explain why “Way Cool Jr.” might still hold up (I’m not sure it does). But there are bands whose albums I bought for THAT ONE SONG that MTV played the video for that ONE WEEK in July in 1989, whose lyrics I for some reason STILL KNOW, and as I am close to turning 50 I guess I’m interested in reminiscing a bit with a part of my youth that occupied so much of my time 30+ years ago.

Now where to begin…?