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Tuesday
Dec122006

What is Success?

Why are 80s glam bands considered sell-outs just because they reached a certain level of success?

From an early age, we're told to go to school (and then a little more school!), get a ("good") job, get married, buy a house in the suburbs, pay taxes and die.

In "Heavy: The Story of Metal" made by and for Vh1, producers ask glam musicians "what is success?"

For many, success is simply getting on stage and playing with their friends. The fact that money, magazine covers and fame are all part of the package deal just makes the success a little sweeter.

In the documentary, Twisted Sister frontman Dee Snider blames the decline of glam rock on overexposure. Sebastian Bach of Skid Row says essentially the same thing. It's interesting since the two musicians were not interviewed at the same time.

But wasn't overexposure on MTV and radio what so many glam bands wanted?

In part 3 of "Heavy: The Story of Metal" Jani Lane of Warrant talks about using his social security card to buy peanut butter and bread. Members of W.A.S.P. remember living on 5 dollars a week and stealing wood to burn for heat.

As the glam movement continued through the 80s, bands looked for ways to reinvent their image and increase album sales.

These talented musicians went from using major pyro in their stage shows, to going unplugged, to relying on the power ballad to reach new audiences both in the states and across the globe.

So, are you a sell-out if you sell? If the power ballad helped an album sell an extra million copies, isn't this success?

Rock journalists and historians point to the explosion of grunge as what finally put the nail in the coffin on the glam movement. While grunge acts tried to be the anti-Poison, they still employed the same tactics as glam to sell albums. Groups like Nirvana and Pearl Jam all signed with major labels, used double-tracking while producing their albums, made major budget videos for MTV and appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone. Isn't this selling-out? Or at least reaching a major level of success?

In the mid-nineties, I remember an anti-drug campaign featuring the voice track "No one ever says I want to be a junkie when I grow up." This may be true. But a lot of people say they want to be rock stars when they grow up.

To me, that's just another way of saying "I want to be successful when I grow up."

Comment on this article. Let me know your thoughts. Then, I'll tell you more of mine.

 

 

 

Monday
Dec112006

What's in a Name?

Do certain names destin those among us for  rock n' roll fame and fortune?

Take, for instance, the long list of glam bands named after founding members:

Van Halen, Dokken, Dio, Slaughter, Winger, Bon Jovi, Frehley's Comet, Nelson, Plain Jane (Jani Lane post-Warrant), Lynch Mob, and the Vinnie Vincent Invasion.

If you grow-up with the last name of Slaughter, kids will either taunt or fear you. A little pain and humiliation go a long way toward creating a rock persona.

For our purposes today, we'll focus on American band Slaughter. Their song "Up All Night" is my song obsession of the week. The song is on the band's 1988 debut "Stick it to 'Ya."

Unlike most 80s glam bands, Slaughter didn't get their start on the Sunset Strip. Instead, the band made a name for themselves under the bright neon of the Las Vegas Strip.

Slaughter toured well into the grunge years, but suffered a set-back when guitarist Tim Kelly was killed in a car crash.

The band hired Jeff Blando as a new guitarist, and continue to tour.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday
Dec102006

Meanwhile, at the Hard Rock Cafe...

On a little weekend getaway, I ate at the Hard Rock Cafe. It's touristy, cliche, and my husband and I enjoy the food and the loud music.

During this particular visit; however, I was more than dismayed when I heard the unmistakable hook to Will Smith's hit single "Gettin' Jiggy Wit It." Since when did this chain, known for playing ROCK music, start opening the doors to all things pop, rap and country?

I was even more annoyed to hear a Seal song. To make matters worse, the song was accompanied by a video of the star performing during "Hard Rock Live" concert.  For goodness sake, what is rock about Seal? Just because he's rich and married to a supermodel doesn't mean he can plug into a Marshall stack.

Once again, this convergence of popular culture brings up two never-ending questions:  "what is rock; what is metal?"

I'm not sure I know the answer to either, but I'm pretty sure rock has nothing to do with songs that include the word "jiggy" in the title.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thursday
Dec072006

Let's play six degrees...

Six degrees of guitarist Vivian Campbell:

For more than a decade, Campbell has rocked with Def Leppard. He joined the band in 1992 after Steve Clark died of an accidental overdose.

Before the Leps came knocking, Campbell was already established as a famous glam guitar god.

His first big break was for Irish glam band Sweet Savage. They were very big with fans of the Cathouse Club, a Sunset Strip mainstay of the 80s. The club was owned by Taime Down, lead singer of glam band "Faster Pussycat."

Campbell was just 15 when he joined Sweet Savage (drummer Rick Allen was also 15 when he joined Def Leppard).

Then next stop for Campbell was the British band Dio. That band is an off-shoot of Black Sabbath. Campbell performed at the Monsters of Rock show with Dio. Def Leppard was also on the bill.

Band tensions meant a job search, and Campbell found himself working  with Whitesnake (!). After the band's massive 1988 arena tour,  lead singer David Coverdale canned Campbell.

1988 was a huge year for Def Leppard. The band toured more than a year in support of the multi-platinum "Hysteria."

While waiting for his next job, Campbell played guitars for Lou Gramm.

Gramm was lead singer of a little band known as Foreigner.

And we're not done yet, kids.

Currently, Campbell has two side projects, Riverdogs and Clock. Riverdogs features former Journey band members.  Clock features a vocalist who performed on Def Leppard's "Retro Active" album. The vocalist is P.J. Smith. The song is a cover of "Action" by 70s British glam super group Sweet. One of the band members of Sweet left for Deep Purple. As we all know, David Coverdale eventually became lead singer for Deep Purple.

So, we've made our connection.

And now I have a headache.

 

 

 

 

Thursday
Dec072006

Misunderstood.

That's how I feel about Winger. I don't understand why the band was so mocked, especially when their lyrics and musical arrangements were typically better than other glam bands of the 80s era.

Was it the band members good looks, or their catchy lyrics that make you want to dance?

Was it because Kip Winger formed the band in New York City, and not in the warmth of the sunset strip? Let's cut the guy some slack. He was back-up guitars for Alice Cooper. Alice Cooper is the godfather of glam.

If you enjoy Winger, there's some good news. Kip is currently on tour, and he's making a stop in the Buckeye State.

He'll play the Alrosa Villa in Columbus on February 16. Show starts at 8.

Side note: Happy Anniversary, Eric.

Wednesday
Dec062006

A 2 Entry Day

It's a 2 entry day because work was lousy, and I was reminded of some uplifting song lyrics:


"I'm working hard, you're working too
We do it every day
For every minute I have to work
I need a minute of play
Day in day out all week long
Things go better with rock
The only time I turn it down
Is when I'm sleepin it off

Turn up the radio
I need the music, gimmie some more
Turn up the radio
I wanna feel it got to gimmie some more."

 -- Autograph's  "Turn Up The Radio" off their debut album "Sign In Please."

The 1984 tune is the band's only hit.  

And you know what? Things REALLY do go better with rock. So the next time you fee like all you do is work, pop in a little glam. I guarantee the melodic metal will cheer you up. Or at least make you feel a little less homicidal.

(Lyrics by Plunkett/Rand/Isham/Lynch/Richards)



 

Wednesday
Dec062006

I hate Christmas Music

It's true. I don't like Christmas tunes because I don't like the holiday (among other religious events). I find holiday tunes intolerable, much like hearing nails on a chalkboard. Enter Twisted Sister. Yes, Dee Snider and his gang of motley men. They recorded a Christmas album featuring traditional holiday songs.

The band even made a music video for "Come All Ye Faithful." That tune has excerpts of the bands biggest hit "We're Not Gonna Take It." Now, I still don't like Christmas music, but this is slightly more bearable than the crap you hear at Macy's this time of year.

Plus, on "The 12 Days of Christmas," the band talks about stuff relating to glam (what else?!). Cans of hairspray, fishnets, etc.

Right now, Amazon.com sales rank for the album is #167. That's actually pretty impressive. You can look the album up on amazon and find similar comments to these. Seems like most Twisted fans enjoy the album.

I still won't buy it (because, as I mentioned, I hate Christmas music) but I won't turn the radio dial if one of the songs hits the airwaves.