Top 20 Hair Metal Albums of the Eighties
GUNS N’ ROSES—Appetite for Destruction (1987) The massive ’do sported by Axl Rose in the “Welcome to the Jungle” video certainly justifies this landmark album’s inclusion on any hair metal best-of list. That said, it’s vital to note that Appetite, with its magic combination of angry, Stones-on-steroids riffs, unbridled attitude and punk rock nihilism may also be one of the 20 best rock records of all time…so good, in fact, that GN’R had no choice but to self-destruct in order to avoid the daunting task of topping it.
FASTER PUSSYCAT—Faster Pussycat (1987) It’s a shame that Faster Pussycat felt compelled to “evolve” after releasing this rough-and-tumble collection of three-chord gems. If they had stayed their simple course, they might now be regarded as L.A.’s snotty answer to the New York Dolls. True to Johnny Thunders’ “rock now, ask questions later” approach, it’s highly unlikely that guitarists Greg Steele or Brent Muscat bothered to tune up even once during the tracking of this disc, while vocalist Taime Down painstakingly emulated Dolls vocalist David Johansen’s total disregard for pitch. Perhaps more importantly, Downe also shared Johansen’s uncanny flair for injecting wit and wordplay into otherwise totally lowbrow lyrics.
WHITESNAKE—Whitesnake (1987) Hard-core fans of ex-Deep Purple vocalist David Coverdale’s more stripped-down, bluesy (and obscure) incarnations of the ’Snake may have found this album reeking abominably of sell-out, but those of us first introduced to the band via this highly-polished collection of Zep-inspired riffage couldn’t help but be blown away by its almost baroque majesty. Guitarist John Sykes’ wicked vibrato and Jack-the-Ripper technique never falter and sound infinitely more ballsy than the limp tone and uninspired pyrotechnics that Steve Vai would lend to the band’s following release. The epic “Still of the Night” is the best song that Led Zeppelin never wrote, and it’s no wonder that Jimmy Page later enlisted the manly Coverdale for a short-lived (but utterly slamming) collaboration in 1993.
WHITE LION—Pride (1987) No one will debate the fact that English-impaired Nordic beefcake vocalist Mike Tramp was the Fabio of hair metal. Or that former Anthrax drummer Greg D’Angelo was the scariest-looking poodle-haired motherfucker ever to hit rock’s big time. Or, to be totally honest, that Vito Bratta, the Staten Island-born guitar wunderkind with the buggy eyes and Farah Fawcett wings never once looked comfortable in a band photograph. Nevertheless, White Lion was one totally ferocious beast of a band and Bratta, for all his mysterious malaise, was hands down the most tasteful, lyrical and inventive guitarist of his generation, adding structure, style and an unerring pop sensibility to Van Halen’s oft-tapped fountain of inspiration. All of White Lion’s albums were strong efforts, but with such ditties as “Don’t Give Up,” “Wait” and “All Join Our Hands,” this is the record that the band should definitely have been most proud of.
WARRANT—Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinking Rich (1988) Yes, Warrant may have taken the oversexed himbo act to new and odious extremes in their horny live shows. And the guitar duo of Erik Turner and Joey Allen was certainly nothing to write home about. But Warrant’s few shortcomings should never be allowed to eclipse the simple truth that vocalist/band leader Jani Lane was one of the most accomplished song writers of the pop metal genre. If you can’t get down with anthems like the rousing “Big Talk,” the classic “Down Boys” and the disturbingly moving ballad “Sometimes She Cries,” seek medical attention immediately—your heart has stopped.
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