The Hair Metal 100: Ranking the ’80s Greatest Glam Bands, Part 3
Our ’80s glam guide struts onward, celebrating that only-of-its-time moment and the flamboyant musical flash maestros who made it so hard and heavily happen—and with such style!
So here now are twenty more louder-than-lust examples of those days when the most hyper-macho cock rock came stuffed—hard—into spandex panties, fishnet stockings, and lace-up leather bustiers (and, make no mistake, that’s not to say glam’s gussied-up testo-rama restricted itself to any one gender).
Come back tomorrow, as we gear up—and get very, very pretty—to crack the Glam Metal Top 40.
60. Shotgun Messiah
Glam metal hit Sweden hard and—bridging the gap between ABBA of the past and Amon Amarth of the future—Swedish riff-slingers Shotgun Messiah fired back. SM blasted out a brazen path between 1988 and 1993, charmingly rolling with commercial rock’s changes. I Want More (1992) is their punk covers EP a la Metallica and Guns N’ Roses. Violent New Breed (1993) remade the Shotguns as Ministry-style industrial metal brutes. Frontman Tim Skold later replaced Twiggy Ramirez in Marilyn Manson.
Not to be confused with Germany’s keyboard-pumped power-metallers Helloween, the Detroit-based monster rockers in Halloween billed themselves as “The Heavy Metal Horror Show”—and they delivered. Hailing as they did from the land of Alice Cooper, Halloween pulled out all the haunted house theatrical stops in concert, and recorded one cult (and occult) LP, 1985’s Don’t Metal With Evil, and one tremendous “lost” album, Victims of the Night, that didn’t get released until 1997.
58. Danger Danger
Hailing from Queens, New York, the same borough that brought us Scott Ian of Anthrax and all four Ramones, Danger Danger hit the concrete rocking in 1987, lighting up a local metal circuit that centered on the legendary club L’Amour and its offshoots. Epic Records issued the group’s self-named first album in 1989, and MTV took kindly to the single, “Naughty Naughty.”
57. Frehley’s Comet
Ace Frehley’s 1978 self-titled solo album stands as one of the absolute greatest hard rock records of its entire decade. If the Space Man never again quite hit such heights outside of Kiss, he still rocketed to soaring awesomeness on the two ’80s Frehley’s Comet, plugging into the glam metal heat of the moment and showing the upstarts how one of the very inventors of the form could still electrifyingly get it done.
Ex-Ratt bassist Marq Torien teamed with ex-King Kobra guitarist Mick Sweda to form and sing lead for Bulletboys. As a loin-swinging, dirty-blues-goosed makeup metal combo, Bulletboys scored a handful of MTV hits and soldiering on respectably deep in the alterna-’90s.
55. Dangerous Toys
Dangerous Toys dangled glam above darker and, indeed, more dangerous abysses than almost any of their hair-heaping peers. In fact, the group dressed closer to ’70s biker-metal brawlers than Sunset Strip dandies, and DT’s Southern-fried sleaze metal could swallow, say, Nelson whole and not even spit out the bones.
Older and scarier than the bulk of hair metal’s prettified poodle-noodlers, Fastway still rode the glam wagon to noteworthy notoriety. Founded by Motörhead guitar beast “Fast” Eddie Clarke and UFO bassist Pete Way, Fastway is best and most righteously remembered for contributing the soundtrack to the ultimate ’80s heavy metal horror movie, the Gene Simmons/Ozzy Osbourne/”Skippy” from Family Ties blowout, Trick or Treat.
The mighty Angel remains one of hard rock’s most tragically overlooked and under-appreciated entities. The D.C.-based band dressed in all white, was discovered by Gene Simmons, and marketed by Casablanca Records as the “upside” of black-leather-clad, fire-breathing Kiss. By all means, seek out Angel’s five cult favorite albums. Giuffria, alas, proved to be the only Angel legacy to score a hit. In 1984, ex-Angel keyboardist Greg Giuffria altered his old group’s get-up enough to go properly glam, and landed two videos in popular MTV rotation, “Call to the Heart” and “Lonely in Love.”
52. Little Caesar
Named for the iconic 1931 Edward G. Robinson gangster picture, Little Caesar was founded and fronted by muscle-bound biker and nightclub bouncer Ron Young. LC made some mainstream ripples with their “Chain of Fools” cover, from their 1990 self-titled long-player, produced by Bob Rock the same year he re-alchemized Mötley Crüe with Dr. Feelgood.
The pride of Paramus, New Jersey, Trixter didn’t quite make it to vinyl in the ’80s, but their self-titled 1990 classic made it plain that the party wasn’t over quite yet.
50. Pretty Boy Floyd
The title of Pretty Boy Floyd’s 1989 smash album really says it all: Leather Boyz with Electric Toyz. The music therein backs up that evocative imagery even further, as one track after another exemplifies its glam metal moment with alternate crotch-popping bombast and mascara-running tenderness. Sometimes one song manages to pull off both. Bonus points for inspiring the moniker of alt-metal wiseacres Ugly Kid Joe.
It’s tough enough that Jake E. Lee gets overlooked as Ozzy Osbourne’s guitar player in between Randy Rhoads and Zakk Wylde. It’s a real shame that Lee’s excellent, incandescently rocking glam-era group Badlands has almost been entirely forgotten. Few bands within The Hair Metal 100 qualify as such a bountiful buried treasure. So here’s to Badlands now!
48. Nova Rex
Florida-launched follicle-fliers Nova Rex built a huge and impassioned following by constantly touring, even though they never nabbed a hit record. Nonetheless, Nova Rex continues today to pack in crowds of the flair-bedecked faithful. A very good 2011 documentary, Nova Rex: Ain’t Easy Being Cheesy, profiles the group, they’ve been interviewed by the Smithsonian Institute on the art and historic significance of hair metal.
47. Vinnie Vincent Invasion
Guitar guru Vinnie Vincent transformed Kiss as the group’s new lead axe-man and an overpowering songwriter on 1983’s landmark Lick It Up (he also hugely guided the previous year’s Creatures of the Night). Alas, Vinnie seems to have felt he burned too bright on his own to be contained by Kiss, and he makes quite the scintillating sonic argument for that case on the glamtastic Vinnie Vincent Invasion (1986) and All Systems Go (1988).
Brandishing irresistible pop hooks and the metal chops to make them rock, FireHouse arrived a tad late on record, but provided glam with a tantalizing last commercial gasp. In 1992, for example, FireHouse took home the American Music Awards trophy for Favorite Heavy Metal/Hard Rock New Artist, snatching that particular triumph from fellow nominees Alice in Chains and Nirvana. FireHouse’s hits still sound terrific and, even as glam faded stateside, the group has enjoyed ongoing popularity elsewhere, especially in Asia.
Warlock didn’t always sound glam metal on their knockout 1984 debut Burning the Witches, and these Teutonic titans fronted by Valkyrie siren Doro Pesch certainly didn’t stay glam after that. Still, given the time, Warlock more-or-less dressed the part and their hulking speed-metal was studded here-and-there with unexpectedly delectable pop-tinged hard rock flecks. Warlock, for sure, was too heavy and hair-raising for the Sunset Strip, but don’t think all parties on both sides of the Atlantic weren’t paying pointed attention to one another.
Indulging their own spooky impulses and (somewhat) copping a goth-look vibe from the Cult, L.A.’s Love/Hate kept one thigh-high pirate boot in the glam camp while the other came down, quite effectively, in the burgeoning realm of alternative metal. They even beat Dokken at having a song on a Freddy Krueger soundtrack: “She’s an Angel” appears in Nightmare on Elm Street 2 (1985). The long-player Black Out in the Red room is the group’s 1989 masterwork. Singer Jizzy Pearl presently fronts Quiet Riot.
Roaring forth from the New Wave of British Heavy Metal (like Def Leppard), Girlschool adapted well to hard rock’s stateside glam tsunami (also like Def Leppard), and issued a prolific series of albums that didn’t exactly sell in astronomic numbers (quite unlike Def Leppard). What matters, though, is that those punk-pumped, pop-chopped, massively metal Girlschool records are uniformly awesome and, as a live act, these ladies were absolute killers—the only group, regardless of gender, to be counted as truly on par with their mayhem-making best mates, Motörhead.
42. Enuff Z’nuff
Elaborately attired Chicago craftsmen E’Nuff Z’nuff combined ’70s power-pop (Sweet, Raspberries, Cheap Trick) with the gaudiest flights of ’80s glam fancy to conjure a still-enduring cult following. Early on, E’Nuff fans outspokenly included radio maven Howard Stern and even Robert Plant, who was quoted in Rolling Stone as praising the group’s Beatle-esque spin on hard rock as “almost perfect.” Fittingly, then, Enuff Z’nuff almost had a couple of big hits: “New Thing” and “Fly High Michelle.”
41. Alice Cooper
The Grand Dark Godfather of Glam Metal himself, Alice Cooper fully embraced the form for this 1989 comeback record Trash—and, oh, did it work. For the LP’s instant classic hit single “Poison,” Alice teamed with power-ballad/Nerf-rock songwriter extraordinaire Desmond Child (“I Was Made for Loving You,” “Living on a Prayer,” “Dude Looks Like a Lady”). At the time of Trash’s release, Alice exclaimed his love of contemporary mall metal, saying: “I would get into my Corvette, turn on the radio and hear all these great songs by Bon Jovi and Aerosmith. When I found out how many Desmond had been responsible for, I knew he was the man to get.” He was, indeed.