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Various Artists
2002 Melodic Hard Rock Feature
January 2002
Released: 2001, Various
Rating: 1.0/5
Reviewer: JP

At first I wasn’t sure if I should write this as it is a little off the beaten track for Metal Rules! But I figured what the hell, write it, submit it, and since you are reading this, the boss was nice enough to let it fly!!



There is a whole giant world of melodic hard rock/metal out there and this month I’m going to take a few minutes to touch on a few bands. I would venture to guess there are as many new melodic hard rock/metal bands out there as the number of fantasy, classic power metal bands currently producing material…meaning dozens and dozens!



As metal has evolved many people no longer consider these types of bands to be “metal”. Is Motley Crue metal? In 1984 people would say, “Yes”. Today, maybe not as many would agree. Many of us cut our teeth on Quiet Riot and Motley Crue in the early 80’s. What happened to those bands that once reigned supreme on the stage, in videos and in the stores? As with many successful movements, they become a trend and then big business usually tried to capture the lucrative potential of that trend. Business dilutes or even ruins a good thing, by saturating the market with sub-standard crap. It happened to glam, hardrock/metal in the early 90’s. Does anyone remember Bad Romance from ‘91 (Polygram), Kiss of the Gypsy from ‘92 (Atlantic) or Blackfish from ‘93 (Epic)? Maybe, but I doubt it. My point being there were dozens of sub-standard imitators that saturated a genre and ultimately contributed to it’s demise.



However, as many of these bands left the mainstream, commercial, limelight they lost a place in public consciousness. That did not mean they were all dead and gone, far from it! There are many survivors of the glam massacre in the early 90’s and a crop of new young bands is out there. Definitions and history lessons aside, there are many bands out there creating good music and I felt they should get a little exposure in this heavy music climate.



Heading in 2002, Perris Records has been waving the flag of melodic hard rock and metal for almost 10 years now and they were nice enough to reintroduce me to a couple of new bands and a few old friends that I knew were out there, but have not the pleasure of checking out what they were doing lately. This feature will have five brief reviews of five bands; 3 survivors from the late 80’s (Every Mother’s Nightmare, Roxx Gang, and Pretty Boy Floyd) and two new, enthusiastic, young bands continuing that sound forged many years ago. (Sahara Steel and Wine Spirit).



Note: These CD’s came without covers or packaging, but I’m sure the real deal will have the same quality that Perris has provided over the years. I checked out the web-site for some details and you can too at perrisrecords.com



Important caution: I did grade these CD’s but keep in mind the style. I will tell you upfront that I enjoy this kind of music. Our regular readers and true metal fans may want to downgrade these reviews accordingly. Alternately, if you are like me and have a history with these bands and a nostalgic soft spot for Melodic rock/metal you may want to crank that rating up a notch! I don’t usually give higher ratings for “Best of’s” and “Live’s” so use your own judgment accordingly!





Surviviors





EVERY MOTHER’S NIGHTMARE-Back Traxx

January 2002 | Released: 2001

Label: Perris | Rating 3.5 /5 | Reviewer: JP




EMN had 2 pretty successful CD’s in the early 90’s but as with many bands it was a case of too little too late. They were dropped and headed back underground and continued to make great music. This is an interesting move, perhaps calculated to clean out the vaults and re-introduce the band. Traxx is all older, rarer unreleased tracks, 12 in all. They also have a new studio CD as well.



EMN were not as much glam as a cool, southern-blues-vibe type band. They did it very well but often these intelligent, well written songs lacked a little power. More a band you could relax and get slowly drunk listening to then partying your face off. The band have a sophisticated style and sound. I like to compare these guys to very cool bands like the Black Crowes, Copperhead, Cry Wolf and Southgang. Often if songs weren’t good enough to get put on a CD the first time there is a reason. This CD doesn’t not have the stench of a corporate, unreleased bonus track cash-grab however. These are all good, “legitimate” songs not just leftover crap. I’m glad they took the time to clean house and release this great CD.







PRETTY BOY FLOYD – Live at the Pretty Ugly Club

January 2002 | Released 2001|

Label: Perris | Rating 3 / 5 | Reviewer: JP




In 1989 many people were turned off by PBF’s blatant copying of Poison (and to some extent Tuff), on the debut but underneath the makeup the songs were pretty good. It showed because PBF continued to make music and after two or three more releases they present this Live package. Under this dumb and boring cover with a cute title, are10 live tracks mostly pulled from their major label debut and a couple of new studio tracks. The sound is OK, a little thin perhaps but the performances are inspired and enthusiastic. Great songs and good glam fun! One of the bonus tracks is a cover of Billy Joel’s, “It’s Still Rock ‘n’ Roll To Me” which is an excellent and insightful choice. It leads me to believe they are having fun and have no pretensions about who they are and what they do. If you were a fan of the debut, get this, if not you can probably pass and grab one of their other studio releases instead.







ROXX GANG –BODACIOUS TA TA’S

January 2002 | Released 2001|

Label: Perris | Rating 3.5 /5 | Reviewer: JP




Another survivor and this “Best of” encapsulates their career quietly nicely. The cover has a close up of a well-endowed woman’s chest. The critic in me says it’s stupid, boring and unoriginal and it has been done so many times before. However…the male in me says, this is the kind of cover and title that this CD should have…so it is perfect! It is easy on the eyes and sleazy on the brain so it gets top marks!



Ta Ta’s is nice little package, with a bonus track and an uncensored video so you are getting good value with 13 tracks. I really enjoy this band. The lyrics, while being inane sexual double entendres, are very well done (Too Cool for School), the ballads a little more heartfelt (Red Rose) and the whole band just has that sophisticated edge. It shows as they are survivors and have produced 7 releases (including this one). A great overview of a band that are now both pioneers and veterans in the glam scene.







New Bands





SAHARA STEEL –Sahara Steel

January 2002 | Released 2001 |

Label: Perris | Rating 4/5 | Reviewer: JP




Great…another band with the name “Steel” in it. The critic in me says “Stupid, dull, unoriginal” …but I can’t help feel this is a really, cool name for band! Too bad the cover is a picture of a sand dune, that IS boring, no matter how you look at it. I hope people don’t judge this CD by it’s cover because the music kicks ass!



Sahara Steel do not re-invent the wheel nor do they improve on it, but man they take you for a great ride on this trusted old musical machine. The ballad “Heart of Fire’ would have been huge in 1989! Save your Prayers is my favorite track opening with an ominous, slower intro before kicking into gear with a great scream and taking off for the hills. Opening cut, “Fatal Heartbreaker” is punchy, catchy and fun. Good lyrics? Not really? Titles like Booze, Tattoos and Rock ‘n’ Roll” almost make me cringe, but then again that’s what I want to hear! Amazing guitars? Not especially. However, they really do present themselves with an infectious enthusiasm in a musical package that is total quality, total fun and therefore totally recommended!







WINE SPIRIT - Bombs Away

January 2002 | Released 2001

Label: Perris | Rating 4/5 | Reviewer: JP




Of the five CD’s Perris sent me, this is the only one with a have decent cover, a closeup of the nose of a WWII fighter plane with a cool shark design. The title BOMBS AWAY is very apt as this CD is loaded with plenty of musical explosions.



This power trio from Italy is a little weird. The bio said they have influences from Motorhead, Kiss and Van Halen and Black Sabbath, which I couldn’t really picture, until I listened to the CD. They are schizophrenic. They have a Motorhead style song, they have a Kiss style song and they have a Black Sabbath style song, all totally different in execution which adds to a very uneven listening experience. Combined with their odd sense of humour it makes them…odd. Maybe it is hilarious in Italy but it just doesn’t translate too well to my ears. Song titles like, “Damed Clockstrokes (You’d Better Get Off)” , “Shorthaired Rocker” and “Orangut-Angus” are kinda odd and don’t make much sense.



Despite these admittedly superficial flaws, Wine Spirit are very enjoyable and very unique. Sahara Steel is not unique…Wine Spirit is. They truly embody the spirit of rock and roll, they love all kinds of bands (and it shows) but there is this cool, strutting Bullet Boys vibe that they have which makes this CD immensely enjoyable. Some songs are fast and heavy, the drumming is generally fast and some of these songs even tip the scales into metal territory. The guitars are all over the place and the vocalist, has a gritty raw voice with many flavours that suits this kind of music well. A super-smooth voice would not have fit here! Even the obligatory ballad, “Wasted Sunsets” has a heavy, darker vibe which is cool. I hope they continue to make CD’s,…I’ll be buying them.
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Next review: » Various Artists - 2002 MELODIC HARD ROCK FEATURE/OVERVIEW PART II
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