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Tuesday, May 18, 2004

DO YOU WANNA GET ROCKED?

This is, quite simply, and with no exaggeration whatsoever, the greatest opening line of any song ever. So I thought it would be cool for us to have this most useful of phrases in as many languages as popular, ready to use as a pick-up line or salutation in far-flung parts of the globe. Unfortunately, my supply of languages has kind of dried up and the list is shorter than I'd hoped, so I thought I'd post it here incomplete in the hope that it will inspire some more of you to have a go. Thanks to everyone who contributed so far!

Learn to say "Do You Wanna Get Rocked" in 11 languages:

Spanish: "¿Quereis ser rockeados?

French: Êtes-vous prêts à rocker?"

Italian: Volette essere rockatti?

Egyptian Arabic: Inta awez tit hez?

Polish: Chcecie sie rozbujac?

Russian: Davay zazhigay?

Latin: Voles quaerere cussi?

Hindi/ Urdu: Hila hona chahte ho?

Swedish: Vill du bli rockad?

Dutch: Wil je rocken?

Telugu: Aadalinchikovadam kavala?

Lyric of the day: "I got the rockin' pneumonia, I need a shot o' rhythm n' blues."

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Sunday, May 16, 2004

When you think about it, “hair metal” is a pretty useless term and only some grunger with no sense of humour could have thought it up. The problem is that it is used to refer to such a wide range of bands that it’s not really clear what they all have in common. Supposedly, it’s the hair. But this doesn’t really work because it was the 80s. Everyone had crap hair in the 80s, including people who had nothing to do with hair metal. The thing was that some late 80s rock bands came out and basically wanted to be judged on how cool they looked (at the time), not on the music. Now everyone’s laughing at how they looked and Winger et al want to turn round and say “Wait! Don’t judge us on how we looked! Judge us on the music!” Sorry, you can’t have it both ways, mate.

It’s those bands that really deserve to be labelled hair bands, especially when they had no talent anyway. But there are plenty of bands that weren’t like that who still get thought of as hair bands, bands who had an image, sure, but only as an afterthought. Well, actually the only two bands like that I can think of right now are Def Leppard and Van Halen, but there may be others. Then there’s Tesla, who didn’t have an image. Some grunge bands claimed they had no image, but really they did; they built an anti-image around not having an image. Tesla really didn’t have an image, other than “don’t give a shit.” Recent shots of Brian Wheat make you think he might be in need of a few coins for the night shelter. Tesla, though, are after credibility, a decidedly shaky route when you realise it involves pleasing that most noisome of crowds, the critics.

And it’s not as if the musical style of hair metal is that uniform when you listen to it. Some, like Dokken and WASP, were virtually metal, while Nelson were out-and-out pop. But if they had one thing in common, it was the power ballad. Everyone was doing them. The exception was Ratt, who never released a ballad as a single and only recorded their first ballad as their star was waning anyway, but generally the thing that unites the hair bands is the power ballad. It is a big part of why they are so loathed. Come to think of it, I can't recall hearing any Twisted Sister or Quiet Riot ballads either. Still, let's not spoil my story.

I love power ballads, being the pathetic soppy romantic that I am. Even before I was born, the fates had decided that power ballads would guide my life; Foreigner’s “I Want to Know What Love Is” was UK #1 the week I was born. It was written in the stars. So it has been ever since, with power ballads soundtracking every one of my (invariably unrequited) teenage crushes. The world is a decidedly drearier and less optimistic place without them and their Hollywood-ending view of love. I blame “Every Rose Has Its Thorn”, which has become the archetypal ballad. The main problem with it, I think, is that it sucks. Although its cameo appearance when Otto proposed on The Simpsons was truly inspired. But anyway, no wonder everyone hates power ballads when that’s the song they most associate with them. So here are my picks for the top 3 most-overlooked power ballads:

3) Motley Crue, “Time for Change”
2) Danger Danger, “Don’t Break my Heart Again” (Those “No-oh!” backing vocals are Lange-tastic!)
1) Ratt, “Givin’ Yourself Away” (although the lyrics don’t seem as cool now I realise what they really mean as they did when I thought it was about something else).

Lyric of the day: “Things are better with rock.”

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Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Okay, I thought I was finished today but:

Sleaszy Rider Records [that's not a typo] from Greece proudly announces a great upcoming release: All They Wrote - A Tribute To Firehouse.

Jani Lane & Kevin Dubrow are doing 20 shows together to be titled "An evening with Jani Lane and Kevin Dubrow."

I was going to say something about these but, really, is it necessary? I mean, really, if people will spend money on either of the above then... Nope, words fail me.

Actually, that said, I would go to a Jani Lane gig if he came within 100 miles of me. But still, if a concert promoter seriously thinks an evening with those two is a good idea then he may well be a few tickets short of a sellout.

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No real time for a post today but here are some random questions for you...

Why do people always write to me complaining, nay, psychotically ranting about my Jon Bon Jovi article without having read it? I NEVER SAID BON JOVI AREN'T A GOOD BAND!!!

Why did I think buying a Loverboy compilation was a good idea?

Why did I spend an hour and a half working out the first two bars of "Up" by Shania Twain to make sure I had every detail worked out precisely correctly?

Why do people keep stealing my ideas for posts by writing exactly what I was going to say, only far more concisely, in my comments box? I'm going to delete the damn thing if that happens again.

Why did someone bid on my eBay auction and then not get in touch with me when they won?

Why does my bass student want to learn "No One Knows" by Queens of the Stone Age when it is clearly rubbish?

Why did I worry that by listening to "Appetite for Destruction" I might grow to like it and then have to climb down on my GnR position? I did just that today and I was freshly awed by just how bad it is. I like the way all the titles are in white apart from "Welcome to the Jungle". I think it's kind of them to highlight the one good song so you don't need to waste your time checking out the others. Other bands should try this method.

Why is it that it has taken me this long to realise that most hair metal deserves its reputation?

Why the hell wasn't "Cold Blood" by Kix an enormous hit?

Why don't I go to bed?


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Tuesday, May 11, 2004

That’s it. I’m giving up the search for the ultimate hair metal collection. For a start, it was worrying me just how monotonously uniform my collection would be if it consisted of hundreds of hair band CDs. I was also worried that if I listened to too much 80s rock, I would get sick of it and lose my ability to distinguish the good (Def Leppard) from the bad (Trixter) and lose interest in all of it, much as the rest of the world seemed to do twelve years ago. It was also getting expensive.

But the premise for my search was that somewhere there must be an undiscovered gem, like Danger Danger, which gets little or no recognition but actually rocks. But I really can’t be bothered to put in the kind of effort required to find a CD which may or may not exist, especially when the tip-offs I’ve been getting have been so useless.

Case in point: Giant. I already owned Last of the Runaways (one sentence analysis: “Innocent Days” and “Hold Back the Night” rule; the rest is mediocre) and I had been told repeatedly that Time to Burn was far superior. I happened to know someone who had been told that the album was “Just like Def Leppard” and had bought it only to be furiously disappointed. I offered to trade him for it and it duly arrived today. I admit this review is on the basis of one very hasty listen. But this is the other problem with my quest for the CD That Got Away: I only have so much time to waste listening to crap CDs in order to discover that they are indeed crap. Sure, maybe some of them would grow on me, given repeated listens, but do I really need or want to make the effort to learn to love Baton Rouge or some other universally-derided also-ran? Besides which, my initial hunches about CDs are getting more reliable as I get older. On first listen, I thought Thunder were absolutely crap. Then I got into their Greatest Hits CD long enough to thoroughly enjoy Thunder’s slot at Monsters of Rock. Then I decided they were crap again.

So anyway, to Giant’s CD. I really want to like it. It seems churlish and ungrateful to be given something and then turn around and say you don’t like it. But really, it is a big sack of shite. Even the songs co-written with the usually flawless Jim Vallance suck enormous great bricks. The trouble with AOR – and that’s what this is – is that it is always in danger of being the most boring, faceless music on the planet. It is hardly an arena for lyrical poetry, and its characteristic lack of aggression mean that if it doesn’t have absolutely stonking melodies it can easily turn into a bit of a blancmange. Giant really need to be versed in the “don’t bore us, get to the chorus” school of songwriting, because with most of the songs I was bored before the first line was over, and I found myself fast-forwarding to the choruses to see if they were any good. Which they weren’t.

The most annoying song by far is “Stay”, because it’s a hair’s breadth from brilliance. Seriously, they should have hired me as song doctor (I was seven at the time and well on my way to learning Mary Had a Little Lamb on the piano...) and all would have been well. Actually, sometimes I fancy myself as a bit of a Desmond Child but then I remember that I predicted that Bellefire’s “Say Something Anyway” was a big-off smash and it proceeded to manage all of one week on the UK chart, so maybe my ear for hit singles isn’t so hot after all. I was right about Maroon 5 and I will be proved right about the Calling, mind, but then any idiot could see those coming. For what it’s worth, although it’s nothing to be proud of, I also saw “Toxic” being a smash, which considering Britney’s run of under-performing singles was not actually a given. I’m still debating whether to add the Corrs’ “Summer Sunshine” to my hit predictions list. I heard it ages ago before it was on the radio and if I had predicted it then, I would have been able to take some credit. Now it’s on the radio so it would be cheating to pretend that it involves foresight to predict it will be a hit. Besides which, I’m not sure that it will sell well, great though it is. I think the Corrs’ pop-friendly sound was more hip a few years ago, on top of which the verses do not have hooks to match the chorus, which was why I didn’t pick it as a hit in the first place.

Back to the matter in hand, Giant’s CD. Only I’ve kind of finished talking about that now. So I guess this entry has fizzled out. Turrah then.

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Monday, May 10, 2004

Ah, the joy. I see the venerable Mark Senff has recognised my blog on his mighty senff.com sounding board. Don't get me wrong; I appreciate all my readers and I appreciate the people who tell their friends about me even more. But since Mr. Senff is such a high-and-mighty in the world of Leppard and since his blog basically started the craze amongst Def Leppard fans, it's extra nice to get a nod.

I work hard on this blog, and I think it's good. Probably less good when I throw objectivity to the wall and hot-temperedly bitch about how some clown band in leotards from Sussex have got further in their musical career than me, but overall still pretty good. So I hope it's popular.

Don't know if I'll be posting properly tonight or not... Thought I had a good post, but started typing it and it sucked. So maybe I'll stick to my great Mutt Lange excavation. Did you know his rhythm guitar part in the verse of "Breathless" by the Corrs has only two notes? Genius...

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Friday, May 07, 2004

Please, someone, say it isn't true...

"THE DARKNESS have recruited legendary producer Robert "Mutt" Lange to produce the follow-up to their mega-selling debut CD, "Permission to Land", according to NME.com.

"Lange, who is married to country/pop superstar Shania Twain, has previously produced a number of classic rock albums from such artists as AC/DC, DEF LEPPARD, BRYAN ADAMS and FOREIGNER."

I'm speechless. I hate the Darkness. They aren't that bad, but I feel that their songs have been badly structured, their hooks have been so-so, their singer is crap whether he's singing falsetto or not, their image is horrifying, their guitar tone is obnoxious, they are ugly, and they are just very mediocre. They are a cabaret retread of classic rock, not a bright new reimagining of rock influenced by great old bands.

Of course, Mutt would fix most of that, if this is true. He'd sort out the guitar sounds, and he turned Joe Elliott into a decent singer so he could probably do it again. He'd teach them how to write songs with clever chord changes and good arrangements. But I don't want to like the Darkness. Even their name is crap. I find them horribly offensive. I realise this means I have no sense of humour. Tough.

I worship Mutt Lange, I have every intention of pursuing a career in music. If being in my own band fails, I'll go the session route. But my own band is definitely plan A. I've spent ages thinking about how even if the impossible happened and I got into a band I really believed in and got a record deal -- a good record deal, not a crappy one where you're left bankrupt and your record is never released -- even if all that happened, I would probably still never get to work with Mutt, which is my dream. And now it looks like those bastards have gone and done it. Opening for Def Leppard was bad enough. This is a catastrophe.

I admit it, I am horribly, stinkingly jealous of the Darkness. All my life I have been plotting how I could be in the young band that is influenced by classic rock and helps bring rock back into the mainstream, and they've stolen my thunder. They are influenced by all the same bands as me. The thing that ticks me off most is that I am arrogant and/ or stupid enough to honestly believe that, given a decent shot, I would have done it better than them, and without having to resort to lame gimmicks. As it is, if I came out with my own band tomorrow, I would probably look like a Darkness follower.

I need a drink.

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Thursday, May 06, 2004

More than any other 80s collective, even Winger or Warrant, Nelson were hair metal’s resident boy band. This is patently obvious to all but the deaf and blind. One look at the back cover of their debut album should be enough to confirm it.

Still, never one to be musically prejudiced, I thought “(Can’t Live Without Your) Love and Affection” and “Only Time Will Tell” were great songs. Still do. So I bought After the Rain. I may well be the first male in existence to do so.

Hair metal’s success was in appealing to girls as much as guys, but it’s clear from the outset that Nelson were going all out for the chick vote. The image, the lyrics, the incredibly lightweight production that buries crunching guitars in favour of total prettiness, and the musical direction are all geared toward people in skirts. The difference between proper music fans and teenyboppers is that the former always demand all-killer-no-filler, whereas the latter only need a couple of pretty hit singles to play while kissing their posters. Regrettably, Nelson’s boy band similarities do not end at the style; they also knew that it was good enough to have several hits and a lot of filler. It was a similar thing with Skid Row; plenty of girls turned up at the shows just to hear “I Remember You” and swoon at Sebastian Bach, but at least they got a severe kicking from tunes like “Makin’ a Mess” and “Piece of Me” while they were there.

There is probably nothing in the world more annoying than filler on a CD. The filler on this CD is not especially bad filler; nothing on here ranks any worse than “okay”. The trouble with filler, though, is that it doesn’t matter whether the song is extremely crap or just slightly crap; if you don’t want to listen to it, you’re not going to. You’re really kidding yourself if you think that a CD with nine mediocre songs is any better than one with nine atrociously dire songs. In either case, you’re still not going to get any entertainment from the album. At least you can get some comedy value from the appalling CD.

The most irritating thing about a CD with just one or two good songs, though, is that you want to listen to the good songs, but you end up never playing them because it’s just so annoying to put in a CD for a couple of minutes and then take it out again, wondering what to do next because you’re in the mood for similar music, but playing the song to death is unsatisfying and the rest of the album sucks. And no other CD quite hits the spot. This, incidentally, is why I will be very annoyed if the album dies a death and is replaced by single-song downloads.

So I guess it’s two thumbs down for the Timotei Twins, then. But I’m sure there are still some thirty-something former teenyboppers who think they’re cute.

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Wednesday, May 05, 2004

I’ve been silent for a couple of days because I’ve been trawling the world in a bid to get the ultimate 80s rock collection. I’ll report on my progress so far:

Skid Row, Slave to the Grind: Incredibly, I didn’t already own this. Netscape Radio’s hair metal channel bombarded me with it so frequently that I didn’t really need it, and anyway the entire first side is on Forty Season. Still, this is pretty indispensable... Not the pretty pop rock I normally like, but the most head-kicking hair metal ever. When I was fifteen, this was the best band in the world to play at antisocial levels when my parents had prudish friends round. It’s still awesome, but I can’t enjoy it quite as much now: I’m just not as pissed off as I was four years ago.

Ratt, Reach for the Sky. Some people say this is the best ever Ratt CD. Others say it’s the worst. It’s clearly the poppiest, so it’s got my vote straightaway. Not sure about all of it, but early impressions are good on several tracks including “What’s It Gonna Be”. In fact, the last three songs all rock.

Blue Tears. Identikit hair metal: Huge backing vocals that don’t sound remotely human, massive drums, Jon Bon Jovi sound-alike singer, nostalgic party lyrics, the songs start with an a capella version of the hook... every cliché in the book. I can’t objectively say it’s good, but it puts a smile on my face.

Little Caesar, Influence. This has Earl Slick on guitar. I heard these guys were R&B-influenced rock. Sadly, this is just another basic blues rock band with simplistic chords and arrangements. I am still looking for the band that consistently marries the best elements of Wilson Pickett and Aerosmith. The hooks aren’t strong, but the singer is awesome and the ballads are amazing. I suspect their Bob Rock-produced debut is better.

Poison, Native Tongue. Whose idea was it to put Richie Kotzen in Poison? He’s more talented than the rest of them combined! Not really that good – not authentically bluesy but not anthemic enough to be classic Poison. Some good moments though – “Body Talk” and “Until You Suffer Some (Fire and Ice)” are two of Poison’s best ever tracks.

While I’m on the subject of Poison, I listened to Open Up the other day from start to finish with a good pair of headphones. It made me realise how much that CD really sucks! Even good tracks like “Fallen Angel” have crappy guitar playing and backing vocals. I advise you keep your headphones separate from your Poison collection.

Anyone know where I can get a copy of Paul Laine’s Stick It In Your Ear CD for a sensible price? Preferably the reissue with bonus tracks. It’s produced by Bruce Fairbairn so I figure it must be pretty good. I may be the only kid on the planet who buys CDs because of who produced them, but in my experience the names “Mutt Lange”, “Bruce Fairbairn” or “Bob Rock” on the back of a CD are virtually a guarantee of quality. The name “Tom Werman”, on the other hand, is a guarantee of a crap CD with a few hit singles on it.

I have CDs by Loverboy, Nelson, and Baton Rouge on the way, so I’ll let you know if they’re any good.

Let’s get the rock outta here!

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