QUESTION OF THE WEEK: WHICH HAIR METAL BAND FROM THE ’80S BEST STANDS THE TEST OF TIME IN 2010?
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Welcome to “Question of the Week,” a (sometimes) weekly debate amongst the MetalSucks staff regarding a recent hot button issue.
Since it’s hair metal week here at MetalSucks, it seemed only appropriate to consider a glamtastic question. So we asked our writers:
WHICH HAIR METAL BAND FROM THE ’80s BEST STANDS THE TEST OF TIME IN 2010?
The MS staff’s answers after the jump.
If we’re talking best modern-day material, the answer is obviously Ratt, but I’ve written about them ad nauseam already and I don’t think that’s what being asked anyway. If we’re talking about which songs still hold up today I’m gonna go with Motley Crue — so many great songs over the years, and they still get my blood flowing whenever they come on in a bar. Bob Rock’s production on Dr. Feelgood still holds up, too — crisp, clear and big. That’s an album that will definitely stand the test of time.
In terms of modern-day material, Ratt obviously did a good job, as did L.A. Guns before they split into two bands — the Phil Lewis/Tracii Guns reunion albums, 2001’s Man in the Moon and 2002’s Waking the Dead, both rock, but everything the two have released without one another has sucked big-time. And kudos to Cinderella, who haven’t released a new studio album since 1994’s Still Climbing; they’ve accepted their place as a legacy act, which is fine by me, ’cause it means they’ll never really embarrass themselves. (I haven’t seen them live in about ten years, but they were pretty good back then.) But if we’re talking about back catalogue, still-holds-up kinda shit, well, Vince nailed it — the answer is Motley Crue. (We’ll disregard Guns N’ Roses and Skid Row, since we’ve now established that they are not actually hair metal bands.) Those first five albums — everything from 1981’s Too Fast for Love through 1989’s Dr. Feelgood — will still start a rager every time you play ’em, and the band even had a couple of okay latter-day releases, even if both of those (1994’s Motley Crue and 2000’s Mike Clink-produced New Tattoo) didn’t feature the band’s original line-up. Motley are the Metallica of glam — they used to be awesome and now they suck, but that suckitude will never erase the awesomeocity of the past.
That depends. The band from that era who has best maintained its live chops is Kix, as stated by Bring Back Glam! creator Allyson B. Crawford in our examination of Glam Metal’s most essential albums. And I’m ready to accept her opinion as the gospel truth. She knows. On the other hand, the hair rockers responsible for the genre’s best post-2k albums are Ratt and Tesla. Plus, I think if a band like Love/Hate could find an audience in 2010. To me, most hair rock has aged extremely little, especially the snappier, bluesier stuff (Badlands, Dangerous Toys, BulletBoys, and Junkyard). And even though pop music is disposable by definition, the radio-friendly singles still hold up, like “Wait” and “New Thing.” To select the band that looks and sounds best, and still seems relevant, is tough though. One could argue for Poison because they have original members, a pretty great attitude, and tons of songs so blankly populist that they’d fit in any era, notwithstanding leaps in production technology. But the according-to-Hoyle ’80s Hair Metal band best suited for the music environment on 2010 is Cinderella. The deal-breaker could be Tom Keifer’s gravelly shriek or the band name, but somehow I believe that if a hair band could land a number-one single in 2010, it’s them!
For me, I suppose it depends on how you take the question. If it’s which hair metal band from the ’80s best stands the test of time in terms of its material from that era, I’d have to go with Def Leppard. In the end, they’re a heavy pop band with a zillion guitars on each track, impossibly catchy while sounding big enough to dwarf the word “gargantuan.” But since we’ve determined they’re not a hair metal band (and assuming we consider ’80s G ‘n’ R hard rock and not hair metal), I’d be forced to go with Twisted Sister, if you could consider them a hair metal band. (Perhaps this question is karmic retribution for my hair-splitting in regards to black metal and post-metal over the years.) I know they looked ridiculous and wrote pop-friendly metal. Good pop-friendly metal, of course: the kind with enough of an edge to remind you that they’d still kick the shit out of you if need be. However, if the question is regaring which band itself has stood the test of time, I’d answer, well, none of them. For me, leathery dudes in their mid-50s singing about pussy like they’re 21 is something I can’t take seriously, not to mention that the majority of hair metal bands tapped out their songwriting chops in the ’80s (though people tell me the new Ratt album is pretty great). And even the ones who HAVE maintained a big following — Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, Mötley Crüe — have released bland, forgettable tripe since reemerging from the rubble of grunge. If they want to keep touring to appease Rocklahoma-sized crowds of dudes with ever-thinning hair and women with ever-more pendulous boobs, more power to ’em. But the music is embedded deep in the shadow of their former glory, not unlike Al Bundy and Polk High football, and doesn’t really merit one’s attention, even as a guilty pleasure.
Hanoi Rocks. Didn’t even stop to think about it. Their brash, raucous, and blissfully catchy songs hooked me from the second I heard “Gypsy Boots.” I discovered them at age 14, and can still remember the moment when “People Like Me” started playing, and thinking, “WHAT IS THIS, THIS IS AMAZING.” I still love them today, and count them among my favorite bands of all time — not just of all ’80s metal. They are the only band I’ve ever spent so much money to see (trip from Boston to Tokyo because jerks decided to have their farewell shows in Sweden/Finland and Japan and I couldn’t live with myself if I missed them) and never regretted a second of it. It was probably the best trip I’ve ever had. They have a bluesy, good ol’ rock n’roll sound that relies mostly on guitars and horns, rather than synths and keyboards, so they don’t feel dated, but they also don’t quite sound like anyone else, from that era or this one. Their older, less pop-y stuff also has kind of a punk edge that makes a nice change when you don’t really feel like huge numbers. I’m one of those people who expects a show when I go to a concert, and they didn’t disappoint on that end, either. And it was a pretty awesome moment hearing “Gypsy Boots,” live, years after I first heard it. Plus, Michael Monroe is a pretty sweet dude. Yeah, I met him on that same trip. No big deal. Just my most cringe-worthy yet awesome fangirl moment ever.