Released: 2013, The Fish Factory
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com UK Team
It was the best of times...no really, it was. LA's Sunset Strip in the Eighties was the epitome of the 'sex, drugs and rock n roll' lifestyle desired (and emulated) by so many fans around the world. And the music! Hair metal, glam metal, sleaze metal...whatever you called it, it was brilliantly entertaining and gaudily fun until grunge came along and f**ked everything up...
For some bands, the Eighties never really went away; they still inhabit that heady, hedonistic world. Enter Valencia Spain's JOLLY JOKER: from their debut album's title ('Sex, Booze and Tattoos') to their groupie-tastic song titles ('Dressed To Kill', 'Givin' It Up'), and even their image (mirrored sunglesses, tight ripped jeans and more foofed-up hair than you can poke a stick at), they simply scream 'EIGHTIES!' They were formed in 2008 by former Silent Poison vocalist Lazy Lane, and decided to let their affection for glam metal acts such as KISS, Skid Row and Motley Crue lead the way in shaping their band. An EP, a tour in 2011 supporting LA Guns and a deal with 'The Fish Factory' later, the band finally released their debut album in 2013.
Sashaying in like a blonde-frosted groupie with the clap is opening number 'Damage'. With it's dirty-groovin' slide guitar intro and immediately recognisable catchy Eighties beat, it certainly pins the band's colours to the mast from the off. Frontman Lane sounds a bit like Sebastian Bach crossed with Vince Neil, his delivery coated in a thick, rather endearing Spanish accent. Track one is followed in stylish fashion by 'Dressed To Kill', one of the two main highlights of the album (of which more later). This time the band demonstrate their fondness for dropping the old F-bomb! The sound is akin to early Skid Row/Warrant/Poison etc: glam, sleazy and dirty. It aint exactly cerebral but it certainly is fun!
By the time third song 'Givin' It Up' commences, it is clear that the album's title is a 'does what it says on the tin' description of the themes throughout. The track's raunchy, almost Southern feel has an air of knowing sexuality to it a la Aerosmith and is just perfect for a down and dirty boogie.
And so it goes on: from 'Sucker's 'Welcome to the Jungle'/'Dude Looks Like a Lady' tale of picking up chicks (hookers?) on a Saturday night, to the obligatory power ballad in the form of 'God's Kiddin' (complete with classy, Slash-esque solo), to 'Before You Die', the closest thing to a love song here, the album ticks all the right boxes and is thoroughly entertaining to boot.
Finally, the second album highlight is the last track 'Fuck It All'. Cleverly chosen as the lead single, this punk-tinged song rattles along with snarling vocals, a simply AWESOME singalong chorus ("fuck the liars, fuck the law, fuck your TV, fuck it all!") and a rather epic solo worthy of the attention of any denim-clad swooning groupie. It ends in a flourish of drums and cursing - as any album in this retro-style genre should, no?
Clearly the hair metal of the Eighties is enjoying an astonishing comeback of late. Acts such as The Darkness, Steel Panther, Girlschool and even uberfan Corey Taylor are out there singing (literally) the praises of this oft-derided genre. To this group we must now add JOLLY JOKER, with their debauched tales of wine, women and song. Though the album's sound can veer towards tinny at times, the band's enthusiasm more than compensates for this slight engineering misstep. Whether you remember this garish era from the first time around, or are too young a fan for such memories, a listen to 'Sex, Booze and Tattoos' will have you joyfully reaching for your acidwash jeans, hairspray and air guitar in no time.
Review by Melanie Brehaut