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TOP 5: Hair Metal Albums

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The age of 80s hair metal was pure bliss back in the day, wasn't it? I'm not saying that it was a time to necessarily be proud of in terms of music or style, but it was undeniably fun. And then one day it was unceremoniously ushered out of our lives by the likes of those whiny, no-fun grunge bands. Bastards.

Anyhow, back in these good 'ol days, it was pretty much mandatory that dudes had a lots and lots of hair, over-the-top videos and sexy girls parading around in the tightest & skimpiest outfits on-and-off camera. To this day, I still don't know if anything compares to the hotness of those whorish 80s chicks.

Anyhow, 80s hair metal fun quickly turned into embarrassment and mockery during the 90s. Not only did you then have to deny ever being a fan of these bands, but you surely didn't want to be caught dead blaring "Talk Dirty To Me" or "Cherry Pie" on the car stereo within an earshot of anyone you knew or anyone who might know you. The stakes for possible reputation-ruining humiliation were just too high and it just wasn't worth the risk.

Today, the rules have changed. The 80s are now revered and bands like Poison and some of the lesser known acts are still out there on the touring circuit while many of the grunge bands who put the stake through the heart of hair metal are long since gone.

Personally, I can't say that there are a lot of albums from this era that have stood the test of time, but there are a few I still enjoy giving a whirl every now and again -- albums that I would even rock out to with the car windows rolled down!

5. BulletBoys - BulletBoys

I can't say that I ever really dug the Bulletboys beyond their debut album, but it's still a pretty rockin' album with quite a few good songs.

While "Smooth Up In Ya" still manages to get the juices flowing, "Shoot The Preacher Down", "Hell On My Heels" and "Owed To Joe" are some quality tunes as well and their edgy cover of "For The Love of Money" kept them from being a one-hit wonder.

4. Heaven's Edge - Heaven's Edge

Probably not a band that had a lot of national success, but they took off here locally and got themselves a major label deal with Columbia Records. The singer has a total 80s voice, but the album rocks pretty hard overall and the musicianship is top-notch for this kind of music.

To this day, this is one hair metal album that I not only still listen to, but feel there isn't one bad song on it. I was sure that "Skin To Skin" was going to break these guys, but it never really happened. Too bad.

3. Sleeze Beez - Screwed, Blued & Tattooed

Most of the Norwegian metal bands I know of are all that scary, dark, death metal stuff, but before most of those bands came to be, the Sleeze Beez gave the world Screwed, Blued & Tattooed.

"Stranger Than Paradise" was the song that got these guys their mainstream notoriety, but "Rock in the Western World", "Heroes Die Young" and "When The Brains Go To The Balls" made for a great supporting cast. "This Time", IMO, is one of the best power ballads of this era, but it just seemed to get lost in the shuffle among all the other ballads that other hair metal bands were flooding the market with.

Unfortunately, by their second album and even with the help of Gene Simmons, the magic of Screwed, Blued was gone completely.

2. Skid Row - Skid Row

I remember hearing "Here I Am" just one time on the local metal radio show before this album ever came out and I was already sold on these guys. The next weekend, they played "Youth Gone Wild" and I was off to Wee Three Records to get me a cassette of this new, unknown band. Skid Row were the first band that I ever 'discovered' before the masses caught on.

Anyhow, Skid Row is really a phenomenal album for this genre of music. "I Remember You" -- while admittedly good -- is a bit too sappy for my taste, but the rest of the record kicks a great deal of ass. "Big Guns", "Sweet Little Sister", "Makin' A Mess" and "Piece of Me" all help make this the fine album that it is.

1. Slaughter - Stick It To Ya

My initial interest in Slaughter came from the fact that the main guys -- Mark Slaughter and Dana Strum -- were fresh out of the Vinnie Vincent Invasion (solo project by the ex-KISS guitarist). But after hearing songs like "Eye To Eye", "Up All Night" and "She Wants More" on the local metal radio show, I scooped this one up the first week it was out.

Stick It To Ya certainly has an element of cheese to it, but it still has a bit of an AC/DC-ish hard rock sound as well. "Mad About You" and "Burnin' Bridges" are good guitar-driven songs while "Spend My Life" and "Gave Me Your Heart" rock just enough to make you forget about the lovey-dovey lyrics. As a whole, I still dig this album today.

Unlike the other bands on this list, Slaughter is the only hair band where I liked a few of their proceeding albums as well. Still, nothing they did beyond Stick It To Ya came close to rivaling this quality effort.


Do you have any guilty pleasures from this era of the 80s that you still give a whirl every now and again in between listening to the music that you normally play? Leave me a comment and let me know!

KISS Alive II 35

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Just three years ago, KISS began celebrating the 35th anniversary of their most acclaimed album: Alive!. The band toured the world playing the majority of the album in order and KISS fans poured out of the woodwork to catch this very successful tour.

There's no doubt that Alive! is a great album. It has been said that it may be one of the best live albums ever recorded. However, some within the ranks of the KISS Army (including myself) feel that Alive! is not the best live record in the band's catalog.

I present to you, KISS' finest live album:

Alive II opens up with so much energy that it practically melts your ears! KISS proves they mean business from the opening riffs of "Detroit Rock City" and puts together a blistering audio assault that extends all the way though to the bombastic conclusion of "Shout it Out Loud".

If you were lucky enough to own the vinyl LP, you were treated to one of the coolest stage photos ever seen. As a kid, I can remember marveling at this epic shot and imaging what a KISS show was really like.

One of the main differences between Alive! and Alive II is that this album features many of KISS' biggest singles: "Detroit Rock City, "Love Gun", "Calling Dr. Love", "Beth", "Hard Luck Woman", "Christine Sixteen" and "Shout it Out Loud." Aside from "Rock and Roll all Nite", many of the songs on Alive! are fairly unknown the average Joe.

Hits aside, some of best songs on the album can be found are scattered in between including Paul Stanley's "I Stole Your Love", "Makin' Love" and "I Want You." Each one is a fiercer, superior version of their original studio counterpart.

No song in the KISS catalog benefits more from the live treatment than "God of Thunder." The version on Destroyer is a plodding track marred by echo and the strange voices of little kids. This version features a faster pace, a devastating riff and animalistic vocals by the world's most famous Demon.

One of the coolest things about Alive II is that it features a song by every band member. Fans were finally able to hear Ace Frehley take to the microphone and croon his debut KISS song, "Shock Me", which concludes with a brief, but scorching guitar solo. And while Alive II's version of "Beth" isn't nearly as polished as the studio version, hearing the crowd clapping in unison and screaming at the top of their lungs really helps give it a charm of its own.

When it comes down to it, the reason I believe that Alive II is superior to Alive! is simply because the live versions of these songs are almost all better (and many significantly better) than the studio tracks. While the performances of the songs on Alive! are admittedly great as well, the studio versions of those songs are as good or better.

So cheers to Alive II on its 35th Anniversary -- at least according to KISS' accelerated calendar -- and let's hope that there will be an Alive II 35 Tour in the near future!

Alive II:

1. Detroit Rock City
2. King of the Night Time World
3. Ladies Room
4. Makin' Love
5. Love Gun
6. Calling Dr. Love
7. Christine Sixteen
8. Shock Me
9. Hard Luck Woman
10. Tomorrow and Tonight
11. I Stole Your Love
12. Beth
13. God of Thunder
14. I Want You
15. Shout it Out Loud