Without being too disgusting, I compare this music to the vomit that comes out of somebody after a long night of drinking 5 Star Whiskey (at $6.75 a 750 ml bottle -- a great deal!!). Seriously -- a bunch of peroxide-bleach blonde "men" wearing spandex, handling instruments they had no business touching, and singing like their testicles were stuck in a vice. Absolutely no substance to any of these bands at all. And the funny thing is, most of these guys were absolutely horrible musicians (if you don't believe me, seriously watch supposed drum-God Tommy Lee attempt to play drums in the University of Nebraska band during the reality show "Tommy Goes to College." He seriously looked like he had never picked up drum sticks before.) They were all show and theatrics, and no music.
Poison. Ratt. White Lion. Motley Crue. Quiet Riot. W.A.S.P. Cinderella. Warrant. Jackyl. Skid Row. I could go on and on. Can you name a decent band here? Not me. I actually start laughing when I look at this list. Maybe it's because I can turn on Lazer 103.3 and listen to these bands all day just like they came out with a new album yesterday (or at Waterstock Rock, which fellow Lonely Noter Tae is a frequent visitor :-))? Or maybe it's because you can listen to these bands at county fairs all over the fair state of Iowa (and I'm sure other states) during the summer months in front of crowds that consist of mullets, NASCAR t-shirts, and lots and lots of Busch Light. Oh, how the mighty have fallen. When these bands were at their peak in the 80's, did you ever think they would be reduced to novelty acts at county fairs like the Jones County Fair (or my hometown Dubuque County Fair, in which Poison has come twice)?? Me neither. I find it hard to believe that horrible bands like Hinder try and emulate this crap. No wonder listening to Hinder on the radio makes me want to swerve my car onto oncoming traffic.
While these bands were making a mockery of my rock music (it's definitely pop music, although I struggle to even call it music) and coming out with their so called "power ballads" for the ladies (gag me), they were covering up the real rock music that came out of the 80's. Bands like Metallica, Anthrax, Megadeth, Judas Priest, Slayer, and Pantera were the real torch-bearers of rock music. They weren't the good looking guys, or the guys who got the girls, or who wore the ridiculous spandex. They just played harder and faster. They could never outsell the hair metalers, but then again when has good music ever been able to outsell pop music (see: NSync, The Spice Girls, Britney Spears, etc..)?? I'll even include Guns 'N Roses in this list. They may have rose out of hair metal (L.A. Guns + Hollywood Rose), but they could actually knew how to hold their instruments and could actually play, something most hair metal bands couldn't claim. GNR had great musicians and were really the only metal band that could sell in the decade.
But the leader of all of these bands was undoubtedly Metallica. They were the best rock band of the 80's, and their rebellious attitude and thrash metal captivated millions of disenchanted youth. Seriously, find a better four song start to an album than the first four songs off of their 1984 release Ride the Lightning. "Fight Fire With Fire," "Ride the Lightning," "For Whom the Bell Tolls," and "Fade to Black" hit you like nothing else. They were yours truly's favorite band until,well, Load, and then Reload. Don't get me started on what Metallica is now, but what they were was incredible and we owe them a debt of respect for making great music in the 80's.
And we also owe a special debt to Seattle music pioneers who founded grunge in Seattle in the mid 80's (thank you Green River and Malfunkshun) and blew it up in the early 90's. Grunge, along with GNR, thankfully reduced the abomination known as hair metal to the jokes that they always were. Grungers were not the prettiest guys, and maybe they were depressing, but they were real, and were incredible musicians (is there ever a tandem that was more in tune with each other than Layne Staley and Jerry Cantrell? They might have had the best chemistry between two bandmates in history). They were substance over style. This is why "grunge" is the favorite genre of yours truly, and was the music of choice for the Lonely Noters as we labored last weekend renovating the Lonely Note offices ("Talk Dirty To Me" was not allowed, although we allowed Tae's suggestion of Bon Jovi's "Bad Medicine" to play, because, well, it's such a bad song it's actually good).
So where am I going with all of this, especially since the title of this post suggests I want to talk about the bassist of a band who played in one of the bands that I have been trashing? Unless you live in a cave, you know that Nikki Sixx was the bassist of Motley Crue in the 80's. I personally can't stand Vince Neil, but I may have found a diamond in the rough? I am currently in South Bend, IN (live in Mishawaka, but work in SB) and listen to 103.9 The Bear daily (an awesome station by the way). I also want to throw props out to the station 105.7, The Point out of St. Louis, where I first heard the song. A while ago, they announced Nikki Sixx had a new band that was based off of his book, The Heroin Diaries. Naturally, I rolled my eyes and waited to hear an absolutely horrible song. I mean, it is no surprise to me that all of the "super groups" today are based off of former grunge bandmates, and not hair metal. Audioslave, Velvet Revolver, and Army of Anyone are just a few examples of their continued success. Where are successful hair metalers playing? Oh that's right, all they do is reform their crappy bands and continue playing bad music. There is a reason they are in no other bands: they only fit in with the other terrible musicians they grew up with so they have to stick with them, even if it means playing at the fabled Waterstock Rock and showing up on reality shows (hey - they have to get paid somehow).
So they announced Nikki Sixx's new band, Sixx:A.M. had a new songs based off of his book. I imagined garbage, but what I got was...... a pretty cool song! The song was "Life is Beautiful." It starts out pretty melodic, than a huge wall of Nikki's trademark Gibson Thunderbird bass and guitars hits you like a tidal wave. Whoa, where did this come from? The song crashes through the chorus guitar riffs, which sound a bit Slash-esque (ala "Slither"). Then singer James Michael's tenor voice comes strongly through the guitars (his own rhythm guitar, but cool none the less). DJ Ashba was also recruited for the ride. The lyrics are simple, but really paint the picture of Sixx's battle with heroin:
You can't breath until you choke, you gotta laugh when you're the joke. There's nothing like a funeral to make you feel alive
These lyrics, naturally reflect Sixx's 1987 heroin overdose when he was declared legally dead. The song stays hard but up-tempo. I kept waiting for the song to falter, but it didn't. Michael kept a strong wail with his constant wall of sound always in support. There is even a quick, but decent solo which really supports the song (and sounds like it should be played in a Guinness commercial). The songs ends as strong as it starts: quick, hard, and powerful. I was amazed that this song could keep its intensity, but it did not disappoint. I gotta hand it to Nikki Sixx: he looks like he actually went out, stayed sober, and has made a serious band. I suppose I shouldn't be too surprised since, well even though I was never a Crue fan, he really was the primary song writer and founder of the band.
I gave him no credit, and he went out and proved their actually was some talent out of the hair metal genre in the 80's. The album has gotten some decent reviews, and dj's are getting plenty of calls for the song. Congrats to Nikki for proving his true musicianship, taking music seriously (something his comrades take for granted), and putting together a decent band and a good album. And seriously, shelve the inevitable Motley Crue reunion and keep making good new music!
Check out the song here
Until next time, yours truly:
Coming next: Yes I am lazy and haven't yet finished my Lollapalooza and Rage Against the Machine reviews. I actually have most of them both written, but haven't yet figured out how to get the pictures off of my camera and onto my computer. They'll be quick short holiday reviews. I also will be writing a concert review on local South Bend band Art and the Artichokes, which includes my medical school attending doc. I also recently saw a drunk Chris Cornell and a (still) fat Shaun Morgan and Seether at the newly renovated and still hot Val Air Ballroom. Maybe something quick on that. Now that residency interviews are done, I actually have some time now!
Sixx:A.M. - 'Life Is Beautiful'