I never cared much for late’80s-early ’90s Hair Metal.
If I were a rock historian, I’d say Hair Metal was a snapshot of a particular era – the cha-cha days of the late Reagan / George HW Bush years – and a particular place, a very prosperous and dissolute Los Angeles. You’ll note that was a time of my life I was neither especially cha-cha nor prosperous, nor, I hasten to add, a the angry teenager I’d been 5-7 years earlier who’d marinated his brain in the Clash, the Kinks, the Who and the like.
So the whole genre sort of left me cold.
Poison? A lite-metal boy band.
Motley Crue? A bunch of yobs trying and failing to ape Alice Cooper. And that’s if you leave out Vince Neil’s role in the death of “Razzle” (more below).
Cinderella? Please. Waterboard me.
But as with all episodes of this “Love and Hate” series (click the tag below for some history), I’m writing this not to bury hair metal, but to praise it.
Well, some of it.
And I know what you’re gonna say. “Everyone likes Guns ‘n Roses. That’s a gimme”.
And indeed you’re right:
Beyond that, though?
When I was at KDWB in ’90-92, listening to the night shift, it occurred to me “Slaughter doesn’t totally suck”:
I mean, if you’re in the mood for some Robert Plant lite. And I was.
Skid Row? Not sure why I didn’t hate them; more relatable to me? Less contrived? More interesting? I have no idea anymore.
But hate them, I did not:
And why not Hanoi Rocks – Finland’s greatest band, and the band that is to hair metal what Creedence Clearwater was to the sixties; a solid rock and roll band with a way with a hook and a single:
Of course, the band took a solid shot in the, well, hairdo when drummer “Razzle” was killed in a car crash with Motley Crue’s Vince Neil; Crue went on, while Hanoi Rocks slowly fizzled, in one of rock history’s greatest injustices.
So yeah – can’t stand LA Hair metal. Except when I can.