Archive for peace in our time

The Last Years of 80s Hair Metal, An Interlude – I Hope the Russians Love Their Hair Metal Too.

Posted in Entertainment, Music with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 3, 2022 by Mike

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

During my senior year in high school I had the opportunity to write for the DeSoto High School newspaper, The Eagle Eye. I’m a bit foggy on how that came about, though I must have taken journalism as an elective mainly because the alternative, a public speaking class, scared me to death.

ANYWAY, one of my contributions to the paper was a review of an album by Gorky Park, a hair metal band out of Russia which, in the Era of Glasnost, had made a small splash here in the States largely due to Jon Bon Jovi taking an interest and getting them a record deal. My review ended by suggesting the band was set up for more success, a testament to my musical tastes and business acumen.

Flash forward 30+ years and Russia is back to its “Evil Empire” ways, invading Ukraine and threatening nuclear strikes. So I thought it appropriate we take a look back at Gorky Park’s album and try to figure out why it didn’t lead to real change in Russia’s -isms.

The band’s logo is still pretty damn cool.

As alluded to above, this album was produced by Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora, and their influence is easily heard through most of the songs. But since we already had Bon Jovi doing Bon Jovi songs a lot better, the album suffers from never breaking new ground or possessing its own identity – listening to it again it’s clear any number of bands at the time could’ve put out this album.

The song that introduced the band to the States is “Bang“, an anthemic rocker reminiscent of some of Europe and Def Leppard’s radio pop. Pretty standard stuff – and easily forgettable. Other guitar-driven songs include “Hit Me With the News“, “Danger” and “Peace in Our Time” a song in which Bon Jovi, Sambora AND Bon Jovi’s drummer Tico Torres play; it’s got a catchy chorus and Sambora’s trademark guitar squeal, but the members of Gorky Park take a back seat entirely. Gorky Park’s cover of The Who’s “My Generation” is solid, though, and something off the album I probably listened to more than anything else when I was 17. Some bands are too beholden to the original to make cover songs their own – *cough*Weezer*cough* – but this one I still like.

Perhaps due to Bon Jovi and Sambora’s production, this album is overladen with ballads. “Try to Find Me” made it to the Billboard Top 100 in 1990, and it’s easy to understand why – it’s sentimental and easy to sway to on a dimly lit dance floor. Some readers of this blog may even remember it. “Within Your Eyes” and “Fortress” take a few cues from Whitesnake and Motley Crue’s power ballads, but again, nothing sticks.

And there it is: listening to the album, I’m recognizing how little of an impact this album had on me. Maybe it was just that there was a glut of hair metal at the time, and in three weeks I’d be on to the next band’s release. But there’s nothing outside of “Bang” that I clearly remember, and nothing I’d sing along to. There aren’t many 80s hair albums that I can actually say that about.

Anyway, here’s that 17 year old senior’s thoughts on the album. Shout out to Pam for sharing it on Facebook so many years ago…