Sunday, March 18, 2007

Let There Be Rock

When Larry met me, he inherited a lot of crap that came along with this prize package; a kick-ass Ford Probe, green bean casseroles, my mom, really bad shoes and as he likes to call it... my poodle head rock.

I was the classic 80's kid; graduated high school in 85, college in 89. When I packed the U-haul to drive from Chicago to DC, there as very little worth saving; an old comforter, some yearbooks, a leftover microwave and 500 tapes, CDs and albums.

Music ran my life in the 80's: Prince, Kenny Loggins, Men at Work, Glass Tiger and Genesis. But most of all, I loved my Hair Bands.

In the world of 80's rock, there are many different levels and I fell somewhere in between. Metallic and Iron Maiden were about as heavy as I could go; Survivor & Loverboy were at the bottom end. But right in the middle...the sweet spot.

Dokken, Slaughter, Poison, Skid Row, Crue, GnR, Cinderella, Ratt, Whitesnake, Leppard, Scorpians, Priest, Firehouse, Vixen, Steelheart, AC/DC, Danger Danger, Quiet Riot, Extreme, Dio, Europe, Warrant and Van Halen. Add in a few outsiders like RUSH, Triumph and Queenryche and you have what I consider to be the best rock music ever.

So mix that with Larry's Donna Summer, Earth Wind & Fire and KC & the Sunshine Band and you have quite a diverse music collection.

Enter in the age of the Internet & downloadable music and the world expands. Who knew there were more Hair Bands beyond the walls of Headbangers Ball?

So here are 10 groups that I only discovered in the last few years. Ones that now rotate through the playlist with the masters.

Von Groove
Reminiscent of Bon Jovi, Warrant and Bad English, this three-piece Canadian band had their first release in 1990, just as grunge rock was hitting the scene. They released two more efforts in 1995 and 1999 before disbanding.

Danny Vaughn is one of the best voices in hard rock. First with Waysted, then Tyketto and then the group, Vaughn, he creates a majestic sound with incredible control and range. More in line with a heavier sounding Foreigner or Journey, this group had 2 CD's in the early 90's until Vaughn left to care for an ill family member. He then was replaced by Steve Augeri (the guy who replaced Steve Perry in journey) for two more CD's. Danny Vaughn is back with most of the original group and released a new CD last month.

Wig Wam
Sometimes a group isn't from the 80's but dedicates their lives to preserving a way of rock & roll tradition that has almost been forgotten with this entitlement generation. Wig Wam is one of those bands keeping this art form alive. They represented their country of Norway in the Eurovision Song Contest 2005, and came in 9th. With four CD's since 2004, they are best known for their #1 rock cover of the club song, I Turn to You.

With ten #1 CD's in their home country of Switzerland, this group has been around since 1992. Probably my favorite of the musicians listed here, they most resemble Bon Jovi if you were trying to find a US comparison. Lead singer Steve Lee has that crystal clear vocal, but enough metal rasp to really drive a lyric home.

The Poodles
Moving to Sweden, we have the stupidest named group I can come across. It make you wonder if any of them spoke English when picking a name. Their debut CD, Metal Will Stand Tall (actually released in 2006) is kind a misnomer since it's less metal and definitely rock. This four person band plays hard, but we'll have to see what they do on their sophomore effort.

Harem Scarem
Also joining us from Canada is this four-person group, first formed in 1991. If 38 Special and Dokken had a child, it would Harem Scarem. Guitarists/vocalists, Harry Hess and Pete Lesperence anchor this group which has generated in 12 CD's in their fifteen year history. Their latest CD Human Nature was released last October.

Bonfire is a heavy metal group from Ingolstadt, Germany,that began in 1980 under the name Cacumen and then became Bonfire in 1985. Personnel has changed over time, with the only permanent founding member being singer Claus Lessmann. Bonfire has released over 20 CD's and is still touring Europe fact they are playing a festival this summer with 80's classic, Krokus.

Hailing from Finland, this band brings the heavy bass sounds of Queensryche. The debut CD released September of 2006 and they've been enjoying a huge success... well, in other countries except the US. Still, their rocking beats and ever so slight LIVE sound in the vocals will give this band a long chance at success.

Rough Cutt
Part Quiet Riot, part Ratt, all 80's. The group had two CDs and then disbanded when lead singer Paul Shortino left in 87' to replace Kevin Dubrow in Quiet Riot. The remaining members left to form Jailhouse with lead singer Danny Simon, and guitarist Michael Raphael. They released their second CD in 1989. Rough Cutt then reformed briefly and released Rough Cutt Live in 1996.

Blue Murder
Blue Murder was the brainchild of guitarist John Sykes. Upon his firing from Whitesnake, the former Thin Lizzy axe-man set out to create a similar sounding bluesy hard rock band. The debut CD would sound a lot like Whitensnakes 1987 album. In fact, Sykes' vocals sounded an awful lot like that of David Coverdale. They released three CD's before calling it quits.

So there you have it, more of the music that gets my juices flowing.

Long live the 80's!

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Blogger Chag said...

I wanted to comment yesterday, but as you know, no one could.

Of all these bands, I've only heard of Harem Scarem, so I'll have to check the other ones out.

You need to check out Celebrity Skin. I think you'd like them a lot.

9:27 AM  
Blogger Mamma said...

Okay, I'm with you on Van Halen, RUSH, GnR and maybe even Ratt but some of these bands? Just down right scary.

I do have to say that Wig Wam might be my favorite hair band name EV-AR!

The combo of your two musical tastes resembles the contents of my iTunes. I can just never make up my mind.

5:34 PM  
Blogger Whit said...

Y&T, Dokken, Loudness, Autograph, Black & Blue, Slaughter, The Vinnie Vincent Invasion, WASP. Yeah, I did a little of the head banging back in the day.

By night I snuck out Erasure and OMD.

8:31 PM  
Blogger Whit said...

Oh yeah, what's funny is that most of these bands probably have "best of" albums even though we've never heard of them. I always enjoy finding those in the bins.

8:33 PM  
Anonymous David said...

All I can say is: oh my God!!!! Though I never had the guts to become a punk, I fully embraced the whole new wave scene and hated bands with big hair. But at the same time I still had a soft spot for the phase that came just before, when hair was really wooly, beards were in and hairspray was unknown and I reckon Bachman Turner Overdrive's "You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet" is just about the best single of all time. Formative years really do have a lot to answer for.

4:02 AM  
Blogger MCANDOU said...

I'm impressed with your musical tastes. I really thought gay men only liked Judy Garland and Barbra. I go crazy for Crue, Roses, Metallica, Megadeth, and ACDC.

8:59 PM  

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