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Monday
Dec182006

When Love and Hate Collide

I truly have a love/hate relationship with VH1 Classic. I enjoy watching my hair band videos. I enjoy the rock documentaries and learn how classic albums were produced. What I hate is the constant repetition, the endless commercials and  worthless promotion.

Or the errors. Errors about music history on a music channel are unforgivable.

During metal week, the channel aired a countdown of the 100 best hard rock groups of all time. Def Leppard came in at number 31. During the short biography that came with the entry, the announcer said "the highs were highs, and the lows were even lower. Drummer Rick Allen lost his arm and guitarist Steve Clark died of alcohol abuse in 1988." That's all well and good except the band on was on tour in support of Hysteria in 1988, and Steve Clark was along for the ride. He died in 1991, while working on the Adrenalize album. There were other mistakes, but this one is the most unforgivable.

The channel also has a bad habit of ":selling" a pet album within fake shows. The series, "Hanging With" is nothing more than a 30 minute infomercial featuring musicians.

Not that musicians don't deserve promotion or air time, but relentless commercial tactics just drive fans nuts.  It's annoying when you can feel a commercial coming. I get it. Commercials pay bills, and networks don't come cheap. But constant commercial and merchandising doesn't just settle salaries; they also cheapen the overall product.

On VH1 Classic, the product is music.

Oh, how unfortunate.

 

Sunday
Dec172006

New Acquisition

Purchase: The Dirt, Confessions of the World's Most Notorious Rock Band.

I'm pretty excited to read the authorized biography of Motley Crue. The book is over 400 pages and includes color pictures! It's a New York Times bestseller, just one more indication that glam is coming back. That, and the fact that while at the bookstore two men standing near me were wishing that Slayer was on the cover of Metal Edge magazine.

A personal review is forthcoming.

More on the Crue:

Drummer Tommy Lee launches a new clothing line based on his many tattoos. The line is called "People's Liberation for Tommy Lee (PL for TL). Apparently, clothing maker People 's Liberation, Inc., makes high-end clothes. I guess that means a pair of jeans costs more than a hundred bucks. I don't spend a hundred dollars on jeans, but I might look at the clothes to see Tommy's tattoos up close.

Apparently, Crue bassist Nikki Sixx  is writing his own memoir called The Heroin Diaries. The book was due by this Christmas, but has been pushed back to summer. It's drawn from journals Sixx wrote while in rehab during the 80s. I'll probably buy and read that too.

And since we're talking about Motley Crue, "Wild Side" is my song obsession of the week.  Originally off Girls, Girls, Girls, the song sets the mood for the album, tackling issues of sleaze, drug use, and the rise and  fall of society.

I enjoy my metal with a message.

 

 

 

 

Saturday
Dec162006

A Word of Advice...

If you party like a rock star, you're going to feel like one the next morning.

Ouch.

 

Friday
Dec152006

Imitation is the Best Form of Flattery

Real musicians. A sell-out show on the Sunset Strip every night. A major budget commercial. Poison in 1988? RATT in 1984?

Nope, Metal Skool, 2006.

The glam metal cover band has a real album and was featured in a Discover Card commercial as the band "Danger Kitty." The four musicians are the real deal. The singer, "Michael Star" (real name Ralph Saenz) was the lead singer for L.A. Guns. The guitarist, bassist and drummer also played for famous (or semi-famous) bands.

Metal Skool is glam all the way: big hair, spandex, money, women and management issues. Before the moniker "Metal Skool," the band was known as "Metal Shop." Trademark issues and fighting led the members to a lawsuit, and a new name.

Metal Skool boasts the longest running metal show on the Sunset Strip, and was recently named the best cover band in the world. Musicians like Steven Tyler, Axl Rose, Kelly Clarkson, and Taime Downe have all jammed with the band onstage.

skool_album_cover.jpg

Check out the cover of the band's debut CD Hole Patrol. Reminds me of Poison's Look What the Cat Dragged In...or Motley Crue's Shout at the Devil.

If I ever win the lottery, I would definitely hire Metal Skool for a private party. 

The band has a website, but it's very raunchy and very tongue-in-cheek. Checkout www.metalskool.com, but don't complain to me if you're offended.

Metal Skool is bringing back glam!

 

 

Thursday
Dec142006

And the Glammy Goes To...

I personally believe each one of us has a life soundtrack.

A handful of tracks that represent significant life moments, attitudes or moods.

While the soundtrack would theoretically change over time, I've compiled a list of songs I think best fit my personality and current life situation.

1) Dream On - Aerosmith

2) Boderline - Alison Krauss and Union Station

3) Turn Up the Radio - Autograph

4) Under Pressure - Queen and David Bowie

5) Home Sweet Home - Motley Crue

6) California Love - 2Pac and Dr. Dre

7) Round and Round - RATT

8) Hysteria - Def Leppard

9) We've Only Just Begun - The Carpenters

10) Kashmir - Led Zeppelin

Do you have a life soundtrack? Do our songs intersect?

 

 

Wednesday
Dec132006

Who Killed the Fun?

Why isn't rock n' roll fun anymore? The answer, I think, is because there's no longer such a thing as rock n' roll.

In the heyday of glam, musicians knew how to party and have a good time. Their lifestyles carried right over into their lyrics. Unfortunately, that's no longer the case.

Modern artists that fall under the broad category of rock tend to write songs that just whine, talking about depression, other mental illnesses or hating their families. What's rock about that? Rock music - loud music - is supposed to be an escape from everyday life.

The music of the 90s was the anti-glam. Lyrics were serious;  suddenly it wasn't cool  to go to a stadium concert and dance. Music videos had to have a plot, and for prominent grunge acts this meant a full blown5 act play.

Take, for example, Nirvana's video for "Heart Shaped Box." The video is said to represent terminally ill children, and the strained marriage of Courtney Love and Curt Kobain.

Give me a break.

The video was over the top to sell albums.  It cost more than million dollars to produce and received heavy rotation on MTV.

80s glam bands didn't spend that much cash on videos, and some acts like Warrant, Def Leppard and Poison were successful enough that it WAS an option.

Their videos, full of party images, fire, blazing guitar solos and women - yes women - were an extension of their lyrics. The party didn't stop when the album was pressed.

That train kept right on a'rollin through every stadium tour in America. Just as it should be.

 

Tuesday
Dec122006

What is Success?

Why are 80s glam bands considered sell-outs just because they reached a certain level of success?

From an early age, we're told to go to school (and then a little more school!), get a ("good") job, get married, buy a house in the suburbs, pay taxes and die.

In "Heavy: The Story of Metal" made by and for Vh1, producers ask glam musicians "what is success?"

For many, success is simply getting on stage and playing with their friends. The fact that money, magazine covers and fame are all part of the package deal just makes the success a little sweeter.

In the documentary, Twisted Sister frontman Dee Snider blames the decline of glam rock on overexposure. Sebastian Bach of Skid Row says essentially the same thing. It's interesting since the two musicians were not interviewed at the same time.

But wasn't overexposure on MTV and radio what so many glam bands wanted?

In part 3 of "Heavy: The Story of Metal" Jani Lane of Warrant talks about using his social security card to buy peanut butter and bread. Members of W.A.S.P. remember living on 5 dollars a week and stealing wood to burn for heat.

As the glam movement continued through the 80s, bands looked for ways to reinvent their image and increase album sales.

These talented musicians went from using major pyro in their stage shows, to going unplugged, to relying on the power ballad to reach new audiences both in the states and across the globe.

So, are you a sell-out if you sell? If the power ballad helped an album sell an extra million copies, isn't this success?

Rock journalists and historians point to the explosion of grunge as what finally put the nail in the coffin on the glam movement. While grunge acts tried to be the anti-Poison, they still employed the same tactics as glam to sell albums. Groups like Nirvana and Pearl Jam all signed with major labels, used double-tracking while producing their albums, made major budget videos for MTV and appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone. Isn't this selling-out? Or at least reaching a major level of success?

In the mid-nineties, I remember an anti-drug campaign featuring the voice track "No one ever says I want to be a junkie when I grow up." This may be true. But a lot of people say they want to be rock stars when they grow up.

To me, that's just another way of saying "I want to be successful when I grow up."

Comment on this article. Let me know your thoughts. Then, I'll tell you more of mine.

 

 

 

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