Back in 1988, I’m sure that the terms ‘power ballad’ or even ‘hair metal’, were not part of the vocabulary. These terms only came into use in the early 2000s when used to describe late 80’s hard rock bands who had big hair. Back then, EVERY band had record company pressure to come up with a big , soppy ballad to include on the album. For songwriters like Desmond Child, this late 80’s period spelt one word only – pay dirt. Speaking of which, trailblazers Bon Jovi were well ahead of the pack with stuff like ‘Wanted Dead Or Alive’ and the like, and so it was that all the big haired bands then had to come up with a big, radio friendly ballad – it if was a hit and sold a zillion copies then even better, and there were certainly some bands who rose to meet this challenge. Bands like the thin sounding Warrant and Poison had big power ballad hits, as did Aerosmith, the Coop, White Lion and Whitesnake. Both Bad English and Mr. Big had big hits with ‘When I see You Smile’ and ‘To Be With You’, and I liked both of these songs a lot. I dug The Babys, and after years of treading the boards with Talas, any success that bass player supreme Billy Sheehan had with Mr. Big was well deserved. Ozzy and Lita Ford paired up nicely with the great ‘Close My Eyes Forever’ and stalwarts KIX cut one of the finest ballads of that period with ‘Don’t Close Your Eyes’. ‘Still Lovin’ You’ by The Scorpions was great, but I was never hooked on ‘Winds Of Change’. The ballads by Def Leppard were as expected, polished, but just a little bit sickening for mine. Not surprisingly, Journey has a bunch of good ballads in this period, as did Damn Yankees with ‘Can you take me high enough’. KISS had a couple of good ones too, including the tune, ‘Forever’, that Stanley penned when a journalist asked him how long the band’s reunion facade will last, but let’s face it, there was some pretty bad ones too. LA Guns ‘The Ballad Of Jayne’ came complete with strings. There was also the god awful ‘I Remember You’ by try hards Skid Row, and the couple of ballads that the musically limited Motleys released, ‘Without You’ and ‘Your All I Need’ were aped straight from the Bon Jovi / Sambora song book. ‘House of Pain’ by the musically retarded, god awful Faster Pussycat was just bad, bad, bad and ‘November Rain’ by Rose Tattoo imitators G ‘n’ R just made me puke. More of the formulae ? Try on Firehouse or Tesla, Winger, Slaughter, Bonfire and Saigon Kick. Yawn. Yet here’s three of the better ballads that you may not be so familiar with. All girl metallers Vixen has a great song off their debut album called ‘Cryin’, and former Alice Cooper axeman Kane ‘Rambo’ Roberts released a brilliant ballad called ‘Does Anybody Really Fall In Love Anymore’ off his debut solo album too. However, if I have to select my favourite ‘power ballad’ from those heady days, it would be a tune called ‘Right By Your Side’, by Chicago’s Enuff Z Nuff, off their 1993 album ‘Animals With Human Intelligence’. This song, and indeed the album, received some critical acclaim, but ultimately failed commercially. Go check out these tunes by Enuff Z Nuff, Vixen and Kane Roberts and let me know your thoughts.
Rockbrats best three power ballads of the late 80s / early 90’s – 1) Enuff Z Nuff – ‘Right By Your Side’, 2) Kane Roberts – ‘Does Anybody Really Fall In Love Anymore’ and 3) Vixen – ‘Cryin’