DANGEROUS TOYS OF MY OWN
Whenever hair rock is ridiculed, discounted, and slighted by metal’s sandy vaginas/haircut jockeys, it’s conveniently forgotten that the reviled oh-faced crotchboys only represent the most visually memorable/thematically asinine segment of the genre. I can’t FUCKING STAND this blind slagging, especially from dudes who weren’t there/out of diapers at the time. I was only a pre-teen (who looted a relative’s purse to buy the first Badlands tape – sorry, Aunt Rita), yet even I knew about the movement of bands opposed to the fluffy, boob-crazy antics of Warrant, Poison, et al. Most were bluesier and dark, and therefore aimed at listeners whose incentive to purchase music lay beyond the promise of nipple-packed videos. And though it’s a microscopic distinction, I point out that the harder-edged hair rock acts put emphasis not on partying so much as on getting fucking fucked up. Also: No synths, but the occasional organ. Tight leather and denim, but no spandex. You get it. Sleaze Rock, not Splits-Off-Drum Riser Rock.
So why did these non-pretty, non-eyeliner bands get signed to major labels? I guess it’s thanks to the danger of Appetite For Destruction, but one could imagine the logic of targeting horny dudes who buy shitloads of CDs, though none offered by guys with names like Kip Winger or Mark Slaughter. (Except Florentine – total bulge-petter.) Okay, so none really went beyond Gold sales, but each landed a (probably awful) major deal: Atlantic signed Badlands, Geffen had Junkyard. Warners and BulletBoys. Columbia added to their Dokken-tainted roster both Love/Hate and arguably the most lovable and least loved, Dangerous Toys.
The first Dangerous Toys record is fun-loving but respectably morbid – and a major about-face from singer Jason McMaster’s previous (and future) band Watchtower (read Decibel’s piece on their masterful Control and Resistance record). A thesis in raunch and gallows humor, Dangerous Toys probably is in heavy rotation wherever Bon Scott, Steve Marriott, and Dime all hang out. It’s centerpiece, thanks to dual studs McMaster and guitarist Scott Dalhover, is the unforgettable side B run from “Queen of the Nile” to “Ten Boots (Stompin’)” before the album ends in dread on “That Dog.” Of course, being a nerd, I concocted a sunnier conclusion by tacking on the Shocker soundtrack song, “Demon Bell (The Ballad Of Horace Pinker).” I get executive producer credit in my apartment.
As the story goes, rock’s death loomed, and accordingly Dangerous Toys’ 1991 sophomore record was a uneven effort that replaced its predecessor’s swagger and ribaldry with safe rockisms and stars-n’-stripes vomitry (see: mainstream country music). Free of odes to murder for hire and the joy of poppin’ a boner, Hellacious Acres played it straight (think Tesla or, gulp, Jackyl) but despite its surplus of anemic freedom rock, its climax needs no artificial bonus tracks iPodded onto it. “Bad Guy” (above) is one of the two aspects in which Acres trumps Toys – the other is opener “Gunfighter,” which edges out “Teas’n Pleas’n”* – and it’s the song that basically got me busted dancing on my balcony Sunday morning. I swear the towel had just slipped off.
*Note: Shadows Fall favors the latter. Also: Not to be confused with the following year’s “Tease Me, Please Me” by The Scorpions. Yeah ,the one with the pool boy-bangs-mistress boffcore video back when those guys were like merely fifty years old. Barf.