Top 20 Hair Metal Albums of the Eighties
Yeah, they dressed funny and their lyrics often lacked the angst and agonized self-awareness that we’ve come to expect in this decade of the rock and roll sissy-band, but the pop metal acts of the Eighties produced some top-shelf albums during their short reign. In chronological order, these are the 20 best records woven, steamed and blow-dried by the most esteemed members of rock and roll’s Hair Club for Men before they were abruptly given the hook.
MÖTLEY CRÜE—Too Fast for Love (1981) The album that launched a thousand bands. Fueled by drugs, alcohol and Vince Neil’s impossibly shrill wail, Mötley Crüe unwittingly established the look, sound and attitude of a decade with this rough-and-tumble album recorded in just a week. Permeated by a genuine punk sneer and an obvious devotion to such Seventies power pop luminaries as Cheap Trick and the Rasperries, Too Fast for Love’s take-no-prisoners abandon still sounds fresh today, while Tommy Lee’s I’ve-got-a-cowbell-and-I’m-gonna-use-it drumming may be the best example of hard rock sticksmanship committed to tape since John Bonham laid it down on Led Zeppelin.
DEF LEPPARD—Pyromania (1983) The album that formulated and proved the hair band theorem, pretty boys + loud guitars = megabucks. With mad-scientist producer Mutt Lange behind the board, Def Leppard made the transition from New Wave of British Heavy Metal lightweights to pop-metal heavyweights with flying colors and more overdubs than you can shake your Union Jack at. The unforgettable intro riff to the classic “Photograph” spawned a thousand low-rent imitations and the German count-in to “Rock of Ages” would yield another hit 15 years after the fact, when the Offspring sampled it for their ubiquitous “Pretty Fly (For a White Guy).”
VAN HALEN—1984 (1983) To all but the mentally defective, this is the last real Van Halen album, and it serves as a fittingly spectacular epitaph for the band that subsequently ceased to exist at all but in name. With their blonde lead singer, hot shot guitar player and chick-obsessed pop songs, the group had effectively created the template for a generation of big-haired rockers. It’s an association that King Edward would forever try and play down, but to deny that “Hot for Teacher” and the often-overlooked “Drop Dead Legs” didn’t serve as the inspiration for 10-years’ worth of inferior knockoffs is simply disingenuous.
RATT—Out of the Cellar (1984) If the metal world learned one lesson from Ratt’s Out of the Cellar it was this: a shit-kickin’ attitude and head-banging classics like “Round and Round” and “Lack of Communication” will triumph over shortcomings like gruesome looks and a piss-poor lead singer any day. Truly, the good, the bad and the ugly.
KIX—Midnite Dynamite (1985) Even those who consider the hair metal era to have had all the redeeming characteristics of say, a nuclear winter, are quick to give the Kix their props. Was it their self-deprecating sense of humor? Their AC/DC-meets-Def Leppard riffs? The fact that manic mouthpiece Steve Whiteman often sounded like he was recovering from a severe head cold? Well, whatever it was that actually made these perennial underdogs cool was fully in full effect during the writing and recording of Midnight Dynamite. Damn it, this record should have been as big as big Pyromania, and the fact that “Cold Shower,” a pioneering rock/rap fusion with balls of steel, wasn’t as big as “Ice Ice Baby” is a brutal injustice that can never be redressed.
You Might Also Like...
12 min 52 sec ago
14 min 39 sec ago
June 2013 Guitar World: Megadeth Talk 'Super Collider,' Dave Grohl, Tool's Adam Jones, Epiphone's '60s Axes and More14 min 56 sec ago
2 days 14 hours ago
2 days 15 hours ago
Watch Video Highlights from 2013 Golden Gods Awards: Metallica, Anthrax, Danzig, Dillinger Escape Plan and More2 days 16 hours ago
2 days 18 hours ago
In the Magazine
Most Commented Articles
Guitar World on Facebook
Guitar World On Twitter
GuitarWorld RT @revolvermag: Watch #GoldenGods VIDEO Highlights in One Place! @Metallica @DANZlG @Anthrax @Halestorm and MORE! t.co/AokBSWKbAx
GuitarWorld RT @PamelaHorton13: Awwww yeah RT “@PaulRiario: @PamelaHorton13 Laying it down w/ @bumblefoot @VigierUSA doubleneck guitar. @guitarworld ht…
GuitarWorld Session Guitar Tips: Creating Templates to Ease Work Flow t.co/SoSQQsb3kD #HowTo
GuitarWorld Gear News: @jimdunlopusa Introduces MXR Prime Distortion Pedal t.co/QkJ8rf6cKB #Video
GuitarWorld Listen: Blackmore's Night Premiere New Song, "The Moon Is Shining (Somewhere Over the Sea)" t.co/oDzmu4sFzC #HearItNow
GuitarWorld News: @JerichoGuitars Announces Avenger Baritone Model t.co/yKKYE7gr1W