A lot of people will dismiss or rip hair bands for their looks alone.
The fact is, many of these dudes not only wrote some of the greatest rock tunes but solidly represent virtuosic playing.
In order to develop a real taste for greatness in music, you need to look past the glam and stage shows and straight up listen to the music first. I mean really sit there and take in the solos, the song writing, and technical ability.
Alright I get it.
Much of the lyrical content can be total shit.
You can only write so many tunes about riding motorcycles or taking down chicks before it’s just too damn direct or lacking poetically. Or artistically. However you want to “describe it.”
You gotta understand one major point – the hair and the look was a product of the time.
It’s what you did to get attention. In show business, half the battle is to get people talking and barrelling through doors to get in your gig.
This has essentially gone on for years, from Alice Cooper, Ozzy, KISS, and more recently…Miley Cyrus.
I bring up Cyrus the Virus because it’s exactly what she’s doing. Problem is now everyone can post on YouTube and the universe is saturated with gimmicks and attention grabbing whores.
Back in the 70s and 80s, it was all word of mouth until you could land a few nice headlines. Bagging a good magazine cover could really push your non-existent income to the next level.
You might be the greatest guitar player in the world but show biz doesn’t wait around. You have to go out and make waves.
Well, that wave was glam, big hair, and horrific, atrocious Poison album covers.
Of any album cover ever, Look What the Cat Dragged In might piss me off more than anything.
However, I have no doubt that Poison shows were probably a spectacle of raw talent. All these guys did was sit around jammed into a tiny flat trying to master the art of music. They slept on pizza boxes because they gave up everything else.
Same thing with RATT, another sleeper band I will get into shortly.
If you go for it and make it your mission, with some natural talent and personality, you become the guys on stage everyone envies.
Now all you need to do is get people in the door.
The best way to do that is with an army of people that leave your previous show wide-eyed saying “can you fucking believe these guys? They can actually play, too.”
Since you couldn’t see it on YouTube or steal it easily, you had to show up and see it for yourself.
I want to explore a few tunes that I believe demonstrate a certain greatness in music that is lost on many of today’s musicians – the blues element. I’ve already gone into why I believe clean vocals are superior to growling inaudible nonsense, something hair bands obviously knew.
RATT – Way Cool Jr.
Guitarist – Warren DeMartini
Just listen to the dripping blues bends and tasteful vibrato – 2:07 – it’s the kind of stuff that launches burst after burst of raw emotion and feeling. I guarantee if you straight up covered this song or ripped it off for your own, and played it live, it would kill. It’s how it works.
People don’t know who it is or where it comes from but it doesn’t matter because it’s packed with feeling.
Show the picture below to the average bro before they hear it, and they will immediately hate whatever comes next. In some ways I don’t necessarily blame them.
Let ’em hear the tune first (especially if your band can play it live) and it’s amazing how people respond to it. A complete 180.
Cinderella – Somebody Save Me
Guitarist – Jeff LaBar
I’ve actually gigged with Jeff Labar’s son Sebastian, as he is in a local Philly band called Mach22. We opened for them and had a great time. They cover this song and it flat out rocks.
Cinderella is one of the bands that will mercilessly feel the brunt of the ridicule when it comes to looks and even band name. But some of their tunes just flat out smoke, like “Somebody Save Me.”
I really don’t care if you don’t like it, that’s fine. But compared to much of the dog shit people send my way on a daily basis, I’ll take this any day. Zebra tights or not.
W.A.S.P. – Wild Child
Blackie Lawless is one of my all time favorite rockers. A real arrogant bastard with a soul that probably smells like burnt whiskey. I consider him to be one of the most underrated vocalists and songwriters in all of metal.
These guys blended the glam with the shock to draw huge crowds back in the 80s. Their live shows were KISS-like and their tunes rock hard.
“Wild Child” is easily one of my all-time favorite classic metal tunes. Some say Alexi Laiho’s nickname was inspired by this song.
Below is a definitive list of bands that were either glam or had the look at one point in their career. Check ’em out when your looking for something new – sometimes you have to dive deep into the past to find timeless gems. In many cases, not all of these bands necessarily had album after album of ball-busting metal, but just mess around and see what you come up with. I guarantee you will discover some memorable guitar solos along the way.
Hell, even Pantera started as a glam band.
One of my favorite bands of all time, Metallica, came into existence almost purposely as a glam-killer.
Which in itself is a way of making industry waves.
Nirvana and grunge bands are often described as glam-metal killers, but only temporarily in my opinion. Timeless music never dies.
More recently, the band Steel Panther has made a living as the ultimate 80’s glam parody. But without question Satchel can absolutley, fucking, shred. I highly recommend you check them out, as their stage act is quite entertaining and impressive considering it also blends in plenty of comedy.
Look, it’s “party like a rock star” for a reason. Glam metal bands had a life most people can’t even dream about in a dream. You might hate the look, but much of the music is undeniably great.
Damn! I have to admit I listened to those bands back then and when I hear it while driving to work I raise the volume and rock! I could never understand why people these days look back at those days when rock bands were big and take them as a joke.
Its true that many of these bands wrote some slamming songs and riffs that even to this day you hear it. I think those that make fun of it do so because they have no clue about the history.
Even back then when I was a teenager and into Rock while everyone else was into rap I stuck out like a sore thumb since i went to a school in the South Bronx. Yes! Even there we had some Rockers! The kids in school would make fun of men and call me “White Boy” and shit I did not care as I loved Rock just as much as i do now. Nothing makes my day more than a good vintage AC/DC, The Cult or anything with a rocking beat! It wakes me up and gets me psyched for the day ahead.
Unfortunately I feel that today’s rock band have forgotten the history since if you really notice there are not any hard rocking songs only “popish” type of rock. I hate that! I need to hear some Led Zeppelin!
I have to admit you got me in the mood to listen to some rock preferably classic so i got my Pandora on and listening to AC/DC Problem Child!
Great post Man! Keep Rocking!!!!
You’re the lead problem child around here Jose, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
The quality of rock from 30-40 years ago is really tremendous. If you’re in a band with a good singer, the best thing to do is simply play this stuff live.
I don’t know how many people come up to us and ask about these legendary facemelters, thinking it’s some new hit or even an original song.
It’s the timeless groove of rock and blues, my friend.
I totally agree with what you say here. I have no problem admitting that i have a special place in my heart for these 80’s rock gods. They’re such mood boosters for me.
Nothing like a good mood boost.
Many of today’s bands are far better suited for baggin’ groceries, if you ask me.