10 Forgotten 80s And 90s Hair Metal Bands
On Saturday nights here on Classic Rock 105.1 from 6p to 7p, we celebrate the over the top excess that was the 80's Hair Metal Scene. Bon Jovi, Warrant, Poison, Motley Crue and many more play all hour to get you in the mood to have a great Saturday night. Towards the end of the 80s and the very early 90s, there were so many bands coming out with albums, it was impossible to consume it all. Were there some pretty damn good ones that got lost in the shuffle before Grunge eradicated the entire genre? You bet.
Before we get started, I'd like to acknowledge that I don't really feel that Grunge was completely responsible for the implosion of Hair Metal. It ushered in a new and fresher taste for sure, but by 1992 the whole Hair Metal scene had truly worn out it's welcome and was pretty ridiculous. Grunge eventually became a parody of itself as well, as did Nu Metal, Rap Rock, Emo and just about every successful genre there after. That's just how the ball bounces.
Below are a few Hair Metal Bands that either got lost in the shuffle, or hit the scene too late in game and never stood a chance. They're all certainly deserving of way more success and recognition than they got. Some of these you may have heard of, but hopefully there are a few here that are new to you and you'll want to check out.
1) Coldsweat - Good band with some well written tunes of the genre. You may know Lead Guitarist Marc Ferrari who also played in Keel, was in the movie "Wayne's World" and actually co-wrote and played on a couple of songs on Pantera's "Power Metal". Singer Oni Logan was in this band before he joined Lynch Mob with George Lynch. There are actually original versions of a few songs from this record floating around YouTube with Logan on vocals.
2) Baton Rouge - Being from Louisiana, you've probably heard of these guys. They released their debut "Shake Your Soul" in 1990, and it's great stuff. They got some time on MTV back in the day and did pretty well, but never got a chance to really break though the pack. Lead singer Kelly Keeling has had a great career since the band, singing for Dokken and TSO to name a few. If you pay attention, you'll also see him around Lafayette.
3) Company Of Wolves - Company Of Wolves released their debut in 1990, and honestly aren't really a "Hair" band. They have a much more seasoned, rootsy sound than most of the Sunset Strip bands from that era. This record, in my opinion, still stands up today with songs that are simply great, well written rock n' roll songs.
4) Smashed Gladys - Smashed Gladys' debut "Social Intercourse" came out in 87/88 along with the debuts from Guns N Roses, L.A. Guns and Faster Pussycat, so they kind of got lost in the shuffle. As a kid, I remember seeing the album cover depicting two skeletons having sex in a way that formed a peace sign, and knew I had to buy it. Smashed Gladys were different in the fact they were fronted by singer Sally Cato, who was as raunchy and tough as any guys on the scene, and in reality probably more so...in a good way. They had a major label deal with Electra, appeared in the video for "Walk This Way" by RUN DMC and Ozzy even sings background vocals on a song on the record but, they just never seemed to break into the mainstream.
5) Von Groove - Von Groove showed up at the tail end of the genre in 1992, and were possibly just a day late and a dollar short of being a bigger deal. These guys were from Canada and honestly, I don't remember how I ever heard of them or got their debut "Von Groove". Nothing too deep here, just melodic, over the top, poppy, fun rock n roll.
6) Thunder - A band from England who's debut "Backstreet Symphony" I picked up on a whim having never heard of them, and really liked it. It's a pretty strong album front to back. These guys had much more success in the UK than here in the states, and from what I understand, they're still together in some fashion, and putting out new music.
7) Little Caesar - There's nothing "Hair Metal" about these guys either, but they get lumped into the genre anyway somehow. In my opinion, these guys were definitely ahead of their time. Kid Rock could re-record the entire album "Little Caear" and no one would bat an eye...seriously. The band's debut was produced by Bob Rock, and he's kind of got a great track record, so what was the problem? What's funny is that in 1990, these guys had an image problem that stopped them from achieving more success. The image problem was tattoos! The entire band was pretty well tatted up, and the singer had two complete sleeves and complete back piece. Most rock musicians at that point in time usually only had three or four tats. The record buying public just wasn't ready for a band covered in that many tattoos. Pretty crazy right?
8) Child's Play - From East Baltimore, Maryland, Child's Play released "Rat Race" in 1990 on Chrysalis Records. The album was produced by heavyweight Howard Benson who produced successful albums for Bang Tango, Sepultura, P.O.D. and Cold. After Child's Play disbanded, a couple of members went on to be in a couple of notable bands like SR-71, Dirty Looks and Charm City Devils. For whatever reasons, Child's Play could never seem to get the breaks they needed to be a bigger deal. This was another album I picked up as a kid having no idea who they were, and they soon became one of my favorites. To me, they had a sound sort of like The Cult, but with a more boisterous, uptempo attitude respectively. Lead singer Brian Jack passed away April 17, 2012.
9) Law And Order - Out of all the bands on this list, Law And Order is the one that left me scratching my head the most wondering why they weren't as huge as Guns N' Roses. Obviously, that's simply my opinion, but to me these guys seemed like they were poised to become the next big household name. Law And Order's debut "Guilty Of Innocence" came out on MCA Records in 1989 and just never really went... anywhere. MCA could be the one to blame for possibly just not having the promotional chops at that time to get it done, but I'm not sure. They had a handful of other great bands like Bang Tango, Lillian Axe and Spread Eagle that never really broke as well, so I don't know. Law And Order had a loose, dangerous, bluesy and authentic vibe to them that bigger bands like Guns N' Roses and Motley Crue had, and the band had great songs to back it all up. If you've never listened to them and you dig this genre of music, you should really enjoy these guys. Law And Order's follow up "Rites Of Passage" is pretty damn solid as well.
10) Babylon A.D. - Babylon A.D. was another band that almost punched through the sea of Hair bands. Their debut "Babylon A.D." came out in 1989 and featured the song "Bang Go The Bells". The band scored three number one songs at metal radio and reached gold on their first release. Although they did quite well in the rock community, they couldn't manage to pop on a mainstream level. Their debut is a fantastic effort to absolutely add to your collection if you don't have it.