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Saturday
Feb172007

Retro Active

vains.jpgOnce again, it's time to find glam in the Midwest. For my search, I'll head south to Cincinnati where Vains of Jenna are slated to perform with Hookers n' Blow.

You might recall that it was just a few weeks ago that I saw VOJ in the Queen City. Tonight, my Swedish rockers are playing at a more upscale venue for which I am very grateful.

An all-star cast of characters came together to form Hookers n' Blow. At the band's core is Dizzy Reed (Guns n' Roses, Alex Grossi (Quiet Riot), Mike Duda (W.A.S.P.), and Troy Patrick Farrell (White Lion). Sometimes, other famous musicians like John Corabi join the fold when the other stars are touring with their "real" bands.

Hookers n' Blow play a lot of Guns n' Roses, which should be interesting. They also play covers from Aerosmith, Cheap Trick, KISS...and Elton John. I'm not sure how old Elton fits into the mix, but somehow I think it probably works.

Don't worry, glam fans. I'll have a complete review tomorrow.

 

 

Friday
Feb162007

But We Finally Made the News

tv.jpgYou ever have one of those moments when you come across a rare artifact of pop culture that intersects your own life? This happened to me last night.

I recently purchased Mötley Crüe - Greatest Video Hits off Ebay for a little bit of nothing. I was scrolling through the  menu, picking and choosing the clips I wanted to see most.

"You're All I Need" is not one of my favorite Motley songs but I appreciate it nonetheless. After watching the music video, I have a whole new respect for the song.

You see, the clip begins with a billboard that warns about its graphic content. Quickly, the viewer learns that MTV banned the video. The second billboard reads "But then, who ever said the six o'clock news was pretty?" This struck a chord with me like you wouldn't imagine.

You see, I pay my bills by producing the six o'clock news.

It's not lost on me, or any of my colleagues, that we make our living profiting off the heartache and loss of others.  The old adage "if it bleeds, it leads" is true, at least at my station. As long as the story is graphic, the image clear, the report concise, you've got a winner.

If the story is particularly grisly but you beat the competition, you've got perfect fodder for a promotional commercial.

In the video for "You're All I Need," a couple fight and he kills her. Just like the lyrics:

"Tied up smiling/
I thought you were happy/
Never opened your eyes/
I thought you were napping/
I got so much to learn/
About love in this world/
But we finally made the news."

The knife fight between the man and woman gets way out of hand, and he fatally stabs her. I'm not certain, but the first nine seconds of the video look like raw tape from a television news crew. Of course, the police investigation was probably staged so Motley Crue could make their point, but the clip is so real it reminds me of the crap I watch every day just for the privilege of buying groceries.

Now, the story behind the video gets a little bit more convoluted.  In one interview, Nikki Sixx says the entire video concept was based on a lie, and it was never banned. Whatever the truth, please believe: a lot of what you see on  local news is comprised of lies.

["You're All I Need" lyrics by Nikki Sixx and Tommy Lee on the Elektra release Girls, Girls, Girls. Copyright 1987].

 


 

 

Thursday
Feb152007

Same as it Never Was

It's not uncommon to run across songs with the exact same title, and completely different meaning. Take, for example "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" by both Hanoi Rocks and Green Day.

For Hanoi Rocks, the song was a minor hit as the band's career was cut short by the tragic death of their drummer, Razzle. For Green Day, "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" was a huge hit, catapulting the alternative band to a new level of fame.

Hanoi Rocks was formed in Finland at the dawn of the 1980s. They toured relentlessly, trying to gain fan support when label backing was, well, lacking.

Hanoi Rocks finally landed a major label debut with Two Steps from the Move and they even shot a video for "Boulevard of Broken Dreams." It's classic glam, with big hair and eye liner. Michael Monroe's voice reminds me of Mick Jagger.

Lyrics in their version include:

"All these broken dreams/
have made me see.
That I'm strung out somebody rescue me.
Well, do I have to tell you that I love you.
Do I have to tell you that I care.
Do I have to tell you that I need you to be there."

It's a 360 degree turn for Green Day. Lyrics to their version include:

"I walk this empty street/
On the Boulevard of Broken Dreams/
Where the city sleeps/
and I'm the only one and I walk alone."

It's interesting that Hanoi Rocks can create semi-hopeful lyrics out of a song with a such a drab title.

Hanoi Rocks broke-up in the mid-1980s. They reformed with various members in 2002.

The band is heading out on tour next month.

[For Hanoi Rocks, lyrics by Ezrin, Hunter, McCoy. Copyright 1984].
[For Green Day, lyrics by Armstrong. Copyright 2005].

 

 

 

 

Wednesday
Feb142007

Heart Shaped Box

heart4.gifIt’s Valentine’s Day, glam fans.

A time for true love. A warm embrace. A great power ballad.

What would the holiday of amore be without a great power ballad? After all, we have glam bands to thank for the melodic music of love and loss.

Even if they didn’t really invent the genre, Motley Crue is credited for popularizing the power ballad with “Home Sweet Home,” off Theatre of Pain.

 Of course, the Crue were met with a lot of flack for their very popular, chart topping tune and die hard metal heads said Theatre of Pain was a little too slick for their liking.

According to VH1 Classic, the number one power ballad of all time is Journey’s Open Arms. I don’t agree with this because I think the honor needs to go to a band more akin to the glam scene.

For me, two songs tie for the best power ballad of all time:

“Love Bites” by Def Leppard and “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” by Poison. (Both hits come in at number 8 and 7, respectively on the aforementioned VH1 Classic list).

Is it a coincidence that the power ballad was typically a band’s most successful song and the tune that more people identify with, however so unfair?

My two picks for the best power ballad of all time are each band’s only number 1 hit.

In fact, “Don’t Want to Miss a Thing,” written by Diane Warren and performed by the bad boys from Boston is the only Aerosmith song to ever reach the top spot on the Billboard chart. The single is also the first and only song by a rock band to debut in the pole position.

In the documentary Heavy: The Story of Metal, the success of the power ballad is lampooned by the very artists that profited from their massive popularity. As the story goes, an 80s album had to include a power ballad to ensure a hit. A band would release a heavy track first, followed by the mellow power ballad. Groups like Warrant and Winger had the power ballad rule down cold. Speaking of Warrant, Jani Lane wrote some of the best lyrics of all time, and his song “Heaven” really is miles above the rest. Nearly two decades after its initial release, the track still has transcendental powers allowing the listener to really understand the emotion behind the song. The lyrics are simple, clean and the accompaniment just as pure.

For this reason, "Heaven" is our official Valentine song obsession of the week. For those of you celebrating an anti-Valentine of sorts, www.myspace.com/bringbackglam is featuring “Sick Love Song” by Motley Crue. Nikki Sixx knows a few things about bad relationships!

Tuesday
Feb132007

Our Time to Shine

cat.jpgAndrogyny has always fascinated me, so I guess it comes as little surprise that I'm such a huge fan of glam rock. After all, the genre is typified by men with big hair, even bigger egos and a ton of eye liner.

If you look at the cover of Poison's Look What the Cat Dragged In, you see four men more akin to the cover of Vogue instead of Metal Mania. So what does this say about our society and culture?

The early 1980s were the last gasp of the sexual revolution. Indeed, glam bands sang proudly of their conquests with little consequence until the AIDS epidemic became front page news.

It's hard to imagine a rabid metal scene today like the Sunset Strip salad days of, say, 1984 when it was common for each glam band to sport a bevy of beauties on each arm, party backstage and snort about a thousand dollars worth of cocaine for good measure.

Was this the epitome of rock? Of course not, but lyrics reflected the lifestyle  no holds barred, and nothing held back.

Now, when we look to the stage, we see a reflection of ourselves. Is it so wrong to want to see a performer actually perform? Is it wrong to want my rockstars to wear more make-up than I do? I don't think so. 

Later this week: a deeper look at hom0-eroticism in heavy metal.

 

 

 

 

Monday
Feb122007

It's Not All Black Metal

wigwam.jpgHave you heard of the glam band Wig Wam? They produce modern music with a distinct 80s sound. The Norwegian rockers remain dedicated to bringing back glam, and with good reason. They live dangerously close to the advances of black metal and still they persevere.

Perhaps most glam is that the band members have assumed names akin to their identities, ala the Spice Girls. Seriously, the band members go by "Glam," "Teeny," "Flashy" and "Sporty."

Their website, www.wigwam.no is very tongue-in-cheek, something along the lines of Metal Skool and yet these musicians have carved out a very unique sound, paying homage to a true melodic institution.

It's pretty ironic that the land which spawned Mayhem and Gorgoroth would birth Wig Wam. If you'd like to sample a tune or three, head over to http://www.myspace.com/wigwamania. I like this band so much, their song "Gonna Get You" is the featured track on www.myspace.com/bringbackglam.

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday
Feb112007

Doom Drowning in the Mainstream

grammy.jpgThe Grammy awards are just a few hours away. Like the lead singer of Lamb of God, I plan on boycotting the telecast. (Lamb of God is nominated for best metal performance alongside Ministry, Slayer, Stone Sour and Mastodon).

For years, the Grammy awards have had little to do with real music talent, but more with the garbage the corporate America feeds to kids with extra cash to spend on CDs. Mary J. Blige leads the pack with eight nominations. She's followed by other music luminaries like John Mayer and Justin Timberlake.

Randy Blythe is the only member of Lamb of God to sit out the show. The rest of the band is excited and wants to attend the broadcast in the off chance they win. I get that. I guess if there was a Grammy award for best music blogger and I was nominated, I'd go too. Still, I've got to give Blythe credit: he knows what he believes in and won't be bullied into supporting an awards show that means precious little to the music industry.

Remember, glam fans Milli Vanilli won a Grammy and Jethro Tull beat Metallica for best metal performance!

By the way, Lamb of God is nominated for the track "Redneck" off the album Sacrament. I hope they win and when the other members of Lamb of Gob accept their award, I expect them to explain why Blythe is noticeably absent.

********Update: Lamb of God didn't win. According to www.blabbermouth.net, Slayer took home the statuette. Of course, the metal and hard rock awards were presented before the national telecast. The Grammy voters had to save time for all the pop princesses to strut their stuff and shake their hips.