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Archive for the ‘hair metal’ tag

Metalhead: An Essay

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I’ve never made any bones about the fact that I was (I guess I should say am) a big fan of 1980s pop metal. I’ve written before about my five favorite metal concerts; I wrote an entire post about Bon Jovi action figures and another about the utterly talentless and justifiably forgotten Britny Fox, of all things. I’m now on my third trip through Chuck Klosterman’s Fargo Rock City, a book in which he puts way more thought into the history and cultural meaning of eighties’ metal than any sane person should do.

But reading that book has made me realize how we may have tried to retroactively reclassify and attempt to marginalize the music that was the dominant form of most of the 1980s, and it’s made me think about my own relationship to hair metal. (Maybe for the first time.) Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Allen

July 2nd, 2010 at 8:47 am

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You Give Plasticene a Bad Name

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I still like action figures. I admit it. Yes, dammit, I’m a 36-year-old man who still digs action figures. My favorite present I got for Christmas last year was the two-pack of Superman and Batman figures based on the artwork of Ed McGuinness — of all the Superman figures I’ve ever owned, and that’s a decently high number, this one’s by far the coolest.

Also, and I think this fact has now been established beyond all doubt, I used to be into hair metal in the 80s and early 90s. But you know what? Everybody was into it back then. I feel no shame.

OK, well, only a little.

But even with my love for metal-lite and for small posable toys… I’m still somewhat disturbed by the concept of these Bon Jovi action figures.

Yes, you read that right. Bon. Jovi. Action. Figures.

There’s three scenarios I can envision that might have led to these action figures being produced, and none of the three of them will really help me sleep any better tonight. One: the people at McFarlane Toys did some market research and decided there was enough of a market for Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora dolls that it made financial sense to move forward with the project. Two: Todd McFarlane himself is enough of a Bon Jovi fan that he decided this was a project he wanted his company to put into action regardless of the potential profit involved. Three: Bon Jovi and Sambora really, really wanted to see themselves as action figures and paid McFarlane Toys to make it so.

However they came to be… I’m sorry, but these things are too lame even for me, and I’m usually not scared off by lame. Hell, I’ve been known to snuggle up in front of the fire on a cold night with a steaming hot mug of lame while wrapped in a warm blanket of goofy.

But this is where I draw the line of lame.

(You know, I’ve never really seriously considered getting a tattoo. Were I going to, the only symbol that’s ever meant enough to me to even consider getting emblazoned on my body forevermore is Superman’s S-shield. Well, I can’t do that, and you know why? Because Jon Bon Jovi has that same symbol on his right deltoid. Talk about lame — why would I possibly want to be ink brothers with this man, this handsome, internationally famous, multi-gazillionaire likely future Rock and Roll Hall of Famer who’s gotten to simulate sex with Cindy Crawford? I’m sure I could find better role models than that.)

My questions about the toys’ origins aside, my other big question is this: who’s actually going to buy these things? I mean, of course, besides people named Bon Jovi or Sambora. There can’t be that many people still that rabidly passionate about these guys, right? I mean, of course, outside of New Jersey…?

And then I remembered that yes, there are still quite a number of Bon Jovi-philes out there, as is made obvious in this documentary video (now several years old, but still pertinent, I feel):

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Written by Allen

April 11th, 2007 at 11:41 pm

Posted in Music

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I do not think that means what you think it means.

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Up there at the top of my site is an Amazon.com banner ad. It’s the type of ad that Amazon theoretically populates with products based on the Amazon browsing preferences of the person viewing the page — it’s supposed to show you products it thinks you’ll like given what you’ve looked at while browsing around Amazon previously. But those recommended-just-for-you products are mixed in with products it thinks will be appropriate for the site based on the content on the page.

I don’t know if it’s because of all of the Def Leppard talk in my post from Wednesday, or if I don’t realize just how much hair metal I’ve looked at on Amazon, but… yesterday I got an ad for The Best of Britny Fox up there.

The Best of Britny Fox??!? I had no idea there was such a thing! Nor, honestly, did I care. Nor, honestly, can I see why anyone would. I’d imagine that a great number of you reading these words have never even heard of a “Britny Fox” (yes, that spelling is correct), and I’ll tell you right now that you’re not suffering a damn bit by lacking that information in your head. I mean, sure, I liked a lot of terrible one-hit-wonder hair metal bands during my misguided teens-through-early-20s, but Britny Fox were too lame even for me… and I dug Trixter.

I had to know more, of course. Was this “album” really just a single? Was it, as Timmy B. theorized, just the a repeated loop of the chorus from “Girlschool,” the only song of theirs anyone might possibly remember? [1]

Well, now I know: a little research turns up the fact that the entire Best Of album, unsurprisingly, was culled from their first two major-label studio albums. A full half of each of those two wholly unremarkable records were thrown together to make a tasty Best Of Britny Fox casserole. That’s right, folks: two albums and then a “best of” for a band whose career makes the descriptor “best of” seem more than a wee bit ironic. I do believe that this album is what the music industry refers to as a “contractual obligation album.”

(Apropos of almost nothing: one helpful user on the Amazon page for the album tagged this album “buttrock.”)

Still, the inclusion of that particular album in the Amazon ad makes me question their algorithms for product selection. Yes, sure, fine, I had some Def Leppard references in Wednesday’s post (and OK, yes, one other recent post was all about my ill-advised youthful love affair with hair metal), so I can understand why Amazon thinks I have such love for this sort of material. But of all the related products their matching processes could have found, that was what it came up with? A six-year-old compilation album for a band who hasn’t sniffed a major record label in sixteen years? That strikes me as bizarre. (My best guess is that Amazon picked up on my Britney Spears posts from late last year and combined ‘em together into one big icky talentless melange.)

But the really terrible thing? Now that I’ve clicked through and looked at that product to do research for this post, and now that I’ve got the words “Britny Fox” splashed all over this page, I’m betting I’m going to wind up with more and more briefly/dubiously successful metal bands showing up in the ads. Hey, who knows — maybe I’ll get a Danger Danger ad soon! Or Bulletboys, maybe. Or Steelheart! Oh, or Vixen! Little Caesar? Bonfire? Salty Dog? Kix?

PS: Clearly I’m going to need a “hair metal” post tag now.

[1] Timmy B. gets props of some sort here — or perhaps mocking shame and derision — for remembering the name of the song… bless that boy, his ridiculous knowledge of stupid music trivia puts mine to shame.

Written by Allen

March 30th, 2007 at 9:20 am

Posted in Music,Pop Culture

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Five O’Friday: Best Hair-Metal Concerts I’ve Seen

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During the late eighties and early nineties, I shelled out far too much money on watching far too many hair metal bands play live. [1] I saw concerts from most of the major players on the hair-metal scene between the time I was 15 and 22. Please note that what follows below aren’t necessarily my five favorite hair-metal bands — not even close, honestly — but the five shows that I enjoyed the most.

5. Mötley Crüe with Warrant, Mobile Civic Center, Mobile, Alabama, 1989.

I was never a huge Crüe fan — their campy faux-devil-worship early in their career really left a bad taste in my mouth — but this show was from the tour supporting their Dr. Feelgood album, by far my favorite of theirs (not coincidentally their most mainstream-pop album). And besides that, I wanted to go see a Crüe show for the sheer spectacle of it. Their concerts were supposed to be pyrotechnically-infused wonderlands of light and really, really loud sound. They didn’t disappoint, either, blowing my eardrums and burning my eyes with all of the many, many, many explosions. The show also featured the sight of Tommy Lee’s drum riser being hydraulically lifted fifty feet in the air and then floated out over the first few rows of the audience; a Speedo-clad Lee then descended a rope from the elevated riser down into the ecstatic crowd. Definitely an entertaining show.

This concert was also the first time I was conscious of a band using piped-in pre-recorded vocals to augment their sound — Warrant, then on their first major tour, sounded just a little bit too good, if you know what I’m saying.

4. Warrant, The Rock-It Club, Tampa, Florida, 1992.

The second time I saw Warrant, however, it was all them. (Yes, Warrant is on this list twice. Deal.) This show was a surprise show at the now-defunct Rock-It Club, which at the time was the rock club in Tampa. Warrant had been recording their third album, Dog Eat Dog, in Tampa (a couple of the guys actually shopped sometimes in the record store where I worked), and this show was to test out some of the new material they’d been working on. The guys sounded tight and seemed like they were really having a blast playing in front of people — I’d imagine that they didn’t get to play out much when recording — and seemed really happy with the new material. (The album absolutely tanked when it came out; between the time I saw this show and the album’s release date, grunge had made bands like Warrant culturally irrelevant.)

The best part of this show, though, had nothing to do with Warrant. Late in the show, my buddy Bill elbowed me and directed my attention to a chubby, mustachioed guy standing about twenty feet to his right.

“Dude, isn’t that Ron Jeremy?”

It damn sure was: The Hedgehog himself. Bill and I both tore our attention away from the rock onstage to go shake the man’s hand and tell him we were big fans of his work. He was very gracious about the whole thing; only later did it occur to me to wonder where his hand might have been before we shook it.

3. Def Leppard, Hampton, Virginia, 1992.

This show was the first date on the Lep’s Adrenalize tour; six friend of mine and I drove from Tampa to Virginia (about 16 hours of driving each way) just to be at the first show on the tour. Personally, I could’ve waited until they played somewhere closer, but my buddies were just tremendous Lepheads (yeah, I know) and being at that particular show was really important to them. So we made the drive, and it certainly turned out to be a great concert: this was during their years of playing in the round and they didn’t even bother with an opening act, preferring instead to come out and rock our socks off for three full hours instead.

2. Queensrÿche with Suicidal Tendencies, State Palace Theater, St. Petersburg, Florida, 1992.

Completely disregard Suicidal Tendencies. I didn’t like them even a smidge before this show, and I hated having to sit through them. They were absolutely terrible (or perhaps just absolutely Not My Thing). But as much as I hated them, that’s how much I loved Queensrÿche.

The Empire tour, in addition to supporting one my favorite metal albums ever, was the tour during which Queensrÿche (always one of the most intelligent and literate of the metal bands) performed the entirety of their landmark concept album Operation: Mindcrime start to finish. So they came out, played a bunch of songs I really liked, then played the whole Mindcrime album (complete with conceptual video footage on the giant movie screens behind the stage) and then played some more songs I really liked after. And they sounded fantastic — Geoff Tate’s piercing vocals were every bit as impressive live as on record. Just a fantastic show. Fantastic enough to blot the memory of Suicidal Tendencies from my brain.

1. Guns ‘n’ Roses with Soundgarden, Thunderdome, St. Petersburg, Florida, 1992.

Oh, man. Just… oh, man. This show (part of the Use Your Illusion tour) was not just the best metal concert I’ve seen, but the best concert, period. Even better than Neil Diamond. (Seriously.)

We missed most of Soundgarden since my friend Bill, who was the only Tampa native in our group, promised he could easily get us to the Thunderdome (as Tropicana Field was then called) — but then got so shitfacedly drunk before we even left the house that he couldn’t remember how we were supposed to get there. (Bill missed most of the GnR show because of his repeated trips to the bathroom to hurl.)

And man, what a show he missed. The only way the set list could have been better would have been for Axl Rose to call me up the morning of the show and ask which songs I wanted them to play that night. They did every song I knew they’d play; they did every song that I thought they might play; and they played every song that I loved but assumed there was no way in hell they’d do. And even though they’d had an opening act, they still played for three-and-a-half straight hours — and they rocked every one of those 210 minutes. Axl’s vocal gymnastics, Slash’s blistering guitar (the most impressive guitar performance I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen Eddie Van Halen)… oh, man. Just… oh, man.

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[1] Funny how even though the term “hair metal” was so derogatory to those bands who played mainstream pop-infused metal and looked pretty while doing it, it seems now to be the accepted term for that particular slice of the late-eighties musical pie. I suppose the hair-metal bands who still tour, now playing in front of small clubs rather than packed arenas, might still consider the term derogatory, but their protestations just aren’t heard by many people anymore.

Written by Allen

December 1st, 2006 at 9:10 am

Posted in Music

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