Tuesday, December 11, 2007


What do you think of when you think of 80's Rock 'n Roll music?? I'm sure most of you think of hair metal bands like Poison and Motley Crue. You think of bands having wild parties with drugs, women, and long hair. You think of a decade of excess and just dudes having a good time. A lot of people (maybe?) look back on this period of music with longing and wish we still had this of fun-loving, not too-serious music on the air instead of the more serious types of music that would follow it (a lot of these people must live in Des Moines and work for/request songs on Lazer 103.3 --seriously I think they are living in the 80's). Do you want to know what I think of these types of bands? I think of pure garbage.

Without being too disgusting, I compare this music to the vomit that comes out of somebody after a long night of drinking 5 Star Whiskey (at $6.75 a 750 ml bottle -- a great deal!!). Seriously -- a bunch of peroxide-bleach blonde "men" wearing spandex, handling instruments they had no business touching, and singing like their testicles were stuck in a vice. Absolutely no substance to any of these bands at all. And the funny thing is, most of these guys were absolutely horrible musicians (if you don't believe me, seriously watch supposed drum-God Tommy Lee attempt to play drums in the University of Nebraska band during the reality show "Tommy Goes to College." He seriously looked like he had never picked up drum sticks before.) They were all show and theatrics, and no music.

Poison. Ratt. White Lion. Motley Crue. Quiet Riot. W.A.S.P. Cinderella. Warrant. Jackyl. Skid Row. I could go on and on. Can you name a decent band here? Not me. I actually start laughing when I look at this list. Maybe it's because I can turn on Lazer 103.3 and listen to these bands all day just like they came out with a new album yesterday (or at Waterstock Rock, which fellow Lonely Noter Tae is a frequent visitor :-))? Or maybe it's because you can listen to these bands at county fairs all over the fair state of Iowa (and I'm sure other states) during the summer months in front of crowds that consist of mullets, NASCAR t-shirts, and lots and lots of Busch Light. Oh, how the mighty have fallen. When these bands were at their peak in the 80's, did you ever think they would be reduced to novelty acts at county fairs like the Jones County Fair (or my hometown Dubuque County Fair, in which Poison has come twice)?? Me neither. I find it hard to believe that horrible bands like Hinder try and emulate this crap. No wonder listening to Hinder on the radio makes me want to swerve my car onto oncoming traffic.

While these bands were making a mockery of my rock music (it's definitely pop music, although I struggle to even call it music) and coming out with their so called "power ballads" for the ladies (gag me), they were covering up the real rock music that came out of the 80's. Bands like Metallica, Anthrax, Megadeth, Judas Priest, Slayer, and Pantera were the real torch-bearers of rock music. They weren't the good looking guys, or the guys who got the girls, or who wore the ridiculous spandex. They just played harder and faster. They could never outsell the hair metalers, but then again when has good music ever been able to outsell pop music (see: NSync, The Spice Girls, Britney Spears, etc..)?? I'll even include Guns 'N Roses in this list. They may have rose out of hair metal (L.A. Guns + Hollywood Rose), but they could actually knew how to hold their instruments and could actually play, something most hair metal bands couldn't claim. GNR had great musicians and were really the only metal band that could sell in the decade.

But the leader of all of these bands was undoubtedly Metallica. They were the best rock band of the 80's, and their rebellious attitude and thrash metal captivated millions of disenchanted youth. Seriously, find a better four song start to an album than the first four songs off of their 1984 release Ride the Lightning. "Fight Fire With Fire," "Ride the Lightning," "For Whom the Bell Tolls," and "Fade to Black" hit you like nothing else. They were yours truly's favorite band until,well, Load, and then Reload. Don't get me started on what Metallica is now, but what they were was incredible and we owe them a debt of respect for making great music in the 80's.

And we also owe a special debt to Seattle music pioneers who founded grunge in Seattle in the mid 80's (thank you Green River and Malfunkshun) and blew it up in the early 90's. Grunge, along with GNR, thankfully reduced the abomination known as hair metal to the jokes that they always were. Grungers were not the prettiest guys, and maybe they were depressing, but they were real, and were incredible musicians (is there ever a tandem that was more in tune with each other than Layne Staley and Jerry Cantrell? They might have had the best chemistry between two bandmates in history). They were substance over style. This is why "grunge" is the favorite genre of yours truly, and was the music of choice for the Lonely Noters as we labored last weekend renovating the Lonely Note offices ("Talk Dirty To Me" was not allowed, although we allowed Tae's suggestion of Bon Jovi's "Bad Medicine" to play, because, well, it's such a bad song it's actually good).

So where am I going with all of this, especially since the title of this post suggests I want to talk about the bassist of a band who played in one of the bands that I have been trashing? Unless you live in a cave, you know that Nikki Sixx was the bassist of Motley Crue in the 80's. I personally can't stand Vince Neil, but I may have found a diamond in the rough? I am currently in South Bend, IN (live in Mishawaka, but work in SB) and listen to 103.9 The Bear daily (an awesome station by the way). I also want to throw props out to the station 105.7, The Point out of St. Louis, where I first heard the song. A while ago, they announced Nikki Sixx had a new band that was based off of his book, The Heroin Diaries. Naturally, I rolled my eyes and waited to hear an absolutely horrible song. I mean, it is no surprise to me that all of the "super groups" today are based off of former grunge bandmates, and not hair metal. Audioslave, Velvet Revolver, and Army of Anyone are just a few examples of their continued success. Where are successful hair metalers playing? Oh that's right, all they do is reform their crappy bands and continue playing bad music. There is a reason they are in no other bands: they only fit in with the other terrible musicians they grew up with so they have to stick with them, even if it means playing at the fabled Waterstock Rock and showing up on reality shows (hey - they have to get paid somehow).

So they announced Nikki Sixx's new band, Sixx:A.M. had a new songs based off of his book. I imagined garbage, but what I got was...... a pretty cool song! The song was "Life is Beautiful." It starts out pretty melodic, than a huge wall of Nikki's trademark Gibson Thunderbird bass and guitars hits you like a tidal wave. Whoa, where did this come from? The song crashes through the chorus guitar riffs, which sound a bit Slash-esque (ala "Slither"). Then singer James Michael's tenor voice comes strongly through the guitars (his own rhythm guitar, but cool none the less). DJ Ashba was also recruited for the ride. The lyrics are simple, but really paint the picture of Sixx's battle with heroin:

You can't breath until you choke, you gotta laugh when you're the joke. There's nothing like a funeral to make you feel alive

These lyrics, naturally reflect Sixx's 1987 heroin overdose when he was declared legally dead. The song stays hard but up-tempo. I kept waiting for the song to falter, but it didn't. Michael kept a strong wail with his constant wall of sound always in support. There is even a quick, but decent solo which really supports the song (and sounds like it should be played in a Guinness commercial). The songs ends as strong as it starts: quick, hard, and powerful. I was amazed that this song could keep its intensity, but it did not disappoint. I gotta hand it to Nikki Sixx: he looks like he actually went out, stayed sober, and has made a serious band. I suppose I shouldn't be too surprised since, well even though I was never a Crue fan, he really was the primary song writer and founder of the band.

I gave him no credit, and he went out and proved their actually was some talent out of the hair metal genre in the 80's. The album has gotten some decent reviews, and dj's are getting plenty of calls for the song. Congrats to Nikki for proving his true musicianship, taking music seriously (something his comrades take for granted), and putting together a decent band and a good album. And seriously, shelve the inevitable Motley Crue reunion and keep making good new music!

Check out the song here

Until next time, yours truly:


Coming next: Yes I am lazy and haven't yet finished my Lollapalooza and Rage Against the Machine reviews. I actually have most of them both written, but haven't yet figured out how to get the pictures off of my camera and onto my computer. They'll be quick short holiday reviews. I also will be writing a concert review on local South Bend band Art and the Artichokes, which includes my medical school attending doc. I also recently saw a drunk Chris Cornell and a (still) fat Shaun Morgan and Seether at the newly renovated and still hot Val Air Ballroom. Maybe something quick on that. Now that residency interviews are done, I actually have some time now!

Sixx:A.M. - 'Life Is Beautiful'


Anonymous said...

Very unlikely you saw "a drunk Chris Cornell" at the Val Air - he's been fairly famously clean and sober since remarrying and becoming a father again. He's been having a lot of fun at these shows, though. Here's a shot of him and his band warming up in the dressing room before going on in Des Moines.


Anonymous said...

*sigh* Where to begin? I find your opinion on hair metal bands to be... uninformed. It sounds like exactly what someone who does whatever Rolling Stone tells them to instead of a legitimate independant journalist (clue: Why is Load bad and the Black Album good? They are very similar in a lot of ways, and clearly the stylistic turning point for Metallica). Although, I do understand that this is not your profession. It's also clearly not the opinion of a musician himself. Otherwise you would know that the hair metal pop bands of the eighties were extremely accomplished musicians, a few exceptions aside. That was the point back then. I can play more perfect arpeggios than you. The grunge era that followed was the death of musical talent. Alice in Chains is the only band out of Seattle that had any sort of talent. I appreciate you mentioning them, but look at the rest of the scene. Chris Cornell is a hell of a vocalist, but if it weren't for Kurt Cobain then Kim Thayil just might have been the shittiest guitar player on the West coast. I would almost say you have it backwards. The grunge bands that spoke to the youth (yet ignored everyone who wasn't a teenager) were in a commercially lauded cry baby contest with no musical prowess to back it up. Most of the vocalists since 1989 have had no range whatsoever, and 90% of the lyrics are a bunch of "sad poor me" words that are just barely coherent enough for someone to fill in the gaps and say to themselves, "Hey! That has a special meaning for me!" I can't believe what people will allow themselves to be spoonfed. That's still the normal lyrical content for modern rockers, and the much more popular predominately african-american hip-hop R&B singers have nothing to sing about except hos, clubs, and having all those things that rich white men use as status symbols. Getting back on track, what I'm trying to say here is that the 80's pop and hair metal scene set the bar far higher from a musical standpoint than anything that has followed it. Sorry, Hank, you just happened to push all the wrong buttons.

maulars said...

u know what man? FUCK YOU! You know shit about 80's hair glam sleaze metal and your thoughts about it just fuckin' stink. How old are you? 18-25? No? well, you sound like it or at least I read you like one of those poor teenagers of today whose music is soooo god damn bad. Get a grip on your fuckin' words. Ooops I almost forgot: I am a huge metallica fan since day 1. And I also like hair-sleaze-glam metal just for you to know fuckin' narrow-minded asshole! Bye Bye

Anonymous said...

I don't know which hole Hank crawled out of, but he needs to crawl right back in! First off, let me clue you in on couple of things that might make life a little easier. One, hearing songs repeated over and over is the nature of radio. It always will be, any/every station does it. Second, there are two small dials/buttons on the radio. Learn how to use them, if you don't like it, change the station!!! What you makes you think that because you have a crappy one sided website you can be all high and mighty!?! The MUSIC that came out back then was the base of all these other "Musicians" out there. If you ever paid enough attention to notice who's songs are being covered, used in tv, movies, and commercials, who's songs are being sampled for modern artists to steal money for, the lack of energy and originality is really disturbing.
Now, yes there was some crap then and some great bands now, but to catagorize them in such a way is ignorant and plain stupid. Just like people hated Elvis and the Beatles, some music was NEEDED to bring about others!
Another thing, shows, when you paid $40-$60 in the day, you sa a SHOW! Not some depressed kid in a flannel shirt singing about how his life is so terrible. You know what, join the club, get a helmet! Anyway Poison, Wasp, Great White, Slaughter, Nelson, Quiet Riot, Motley Crue, all of them paved the way for all these new bands. So, yes you do have it backwards, those bands were not afraid to try new things and experiment. Some worked, some didn't. But remember, listen to any new "Rock" station now days and you can definitely see the music scene turning away from all this 3 chord crap or ghetto, pants at your ankles crap and back to real rock and roll and even gearing towards the early 80's electronic music and pop. Next time, before you go flapping your gums about things you know nothing about, think about the other musicians and true rock fans who actually know what they are talking about, whom you have seemed to piss off. I don't know how you got into this profession, but someone must hav looked the other way or felt sorry for you! Go back to flipping burgers. Remember, JUST BECAUSE IT'S POPULAR DOES NOT MEAN IT'S GOOD!!!