Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Dripping Bloody Mess That is '80's Hairband Music

So the other day I felt the urge to strip out the program directors ears at 97.5 Krock here in Newfoundland because simply put, I couldn't bear to hear Colin James anymore. I sit at work where we have to keep K-Rock on the air because it's really the only one we can all agree upon, so we are poisoned with the continuous replay of the same 30 to 40 songs.

K-Rock, I fucking hate you. God bless you for not playing the latest up in yo-grill wigger rapper, but damn you to FUCKING HELL for making me hate the music I grew up with too.

Anyway, I happen to have the luxury of going into my office and putting on music that I like and want to hear in any quantity or quality that I like. I keep a catalogue of about 300 to 400 songs hidden here so I can open up glorious Winamp and cycle through whatever I like. The other day, I felt that even those tunes may be growing a little stale, so I decided to try out this new-fangled internet radio thing. (Yes, I'm behind the times). I found this interesting little station called ", 80's Hairband Channel". The first 5 bands to grace my poorly sounding PC speakers were, in this order: Aerosmith, Def Leppard, Poison, Van Halen, and Bon Jovi. What makes this a little more interesting, given the issue of overplaying songs, was that NONE of the songs were in the greatest hits packages for each of the bands. They were still grade A stuff, just the stuff that gets looked over by standard radio dj's.

I will freely admit my tastes in music are somewhat different than most. Anybody whohas ever met me knows for my passion for Def Leppard and guitar music in general. When Guitar Hero first came out it was like a euphoric blend of gaming, geekiness, and GOD ROCK, and I ate it up like the little sheep from the public that I was. (oh what we know now that we should have known then, as Guitar Hero and Rock Band are more stale than Dave Chappelle "Charlie Murphy" screams) Anyway, this channel was a breath of fresh air with revelations of music from the grander times that was the "1980's". A period of excess, a period of bad hair, and a period of great, great music. Over the top lyrics, and amazing guitar shredding work. The thing with all great things is that people see it for what it is, a way to make money. By the end of the 80's and the start of the 90's, there were literally hundreds of 4-5 man bands, with more hairspray than your average beauty shop dealership's warehouse. The music at that point, while still good, was growing old. At the start, we had the likes of Def Leppard and Van Halen, with each building their music methodically with layers of strong guitar licks and base lines, sold not just by the style but by the quality of the product. In the end, you get Cinderella and Warrant, both more sold on the fact that they had the style, not sold by their substance.

This channel has really opened me up to the sheer number of bands that were around that time that were literally carbon copies of each other. Here is a sampling of what was played this morning between 9am and 12pm.

Dio, Jackyl, Great White, Scorpions, Judas Priest, Dokken, Aldo Nova, Krokus, Bonham, Guiveria, Queensryche, Warrant, White Lion, Firehouse, Harem Scarem, L.A. Guns (apparently there are two LA Guns Bands), Skid Row...

The list goes on. Mixed in with these were some quality tunes from Ozzy Osbourne, Def Leppard, Bon Jovi, Guns 'n' Roses (remarkably, this band was born out of L.A. Guns and Hollywood Rose), Van Halen, and Sammy Hagar. The difference between the first bunch of bands and the second bunch? The first bunch could be a greatest hits album for ONE SINGLE BAND as they ALL sound identical. Wailing screams and mindless guitar licks. Fast drums and bad backup singers. The second bunch are all individualistic, have quality, memorable tunes, and actually have some musicianship to their bodies of work.

One thing that I don't like about some rock tunes is the rip guitar solo that has NOTHING to do with the rest of the song. If it's just to show off how wild their guitarist can play notes randomly, then it adds nothing to the song. But if it a guitarist with incredible talent who weaves his solo in with the actual beat of the song and backup guitars and creates a strong progression into the last verse of the song (a good example is the guitar solo from Def Leppard - Animal from the mega successful Hysteria Album) then you get a real show of talent and a great, if not iconic, song.

A good idea as to the comparison from group 1 to group 2 is that for the most part, the bands from group 1 are all gone save for bar and reunion tours. In Group two, the bands are still recording music and doing so successfully. (except maybe for Van Halen, but that's because Eddie Van Halen is a moron as well as a guitar virtuoso)

All in all, if you like good rock, go out to and check the channel out. It'll bring back good memories of a grand era of rock and make you wish that you could throw up the horns again without getting a weird look from the person next to you.


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