In this new blog segment I will be casting the magnifying glass over some 1980’s LA bands who were clearly entrenched in the minor leagues, the 2nd division, (or even the 3rd) – and as a consequence, were not packing out stadiums, touring the world, or signing to major labels – despite their big star aspirations (Hello Nadir). Most of these bands were Californian bands, although not specifically from Hollywood. It just so happens that Hollywood was the heart of the mid to late 80’s scene, and that is why this is the area of focus. This new blog has been inspired by the ‘Hollywood Rocks’ book. Mr Rockbrat bought me this book a couple of Christmas’ ago – and it’s pretty much the bible for any fan of the Hollywood hair metal scene. I wasn’t there during the heyday but nowadays I look back at that scene with a kind of voyeuristic curiosity. In 87- 92 experienced a somewhat carbon copied version of the LA scene in Sydney, Australia. By the time Cowboy Col and Mr. Rockbrat got to LA in 93 the scene was pretty much dead. It didn’t stop me getting round in my KNAC T shirt and LA Roxx baseball cap though. So let’s go back to the Sunset Strip. The Rainbow, The Troubadour, Gazzaris – or out to The Country Club in the Valley. When Van Halen and then Quiet Riot broke through, along came Motley, Ratt, Poison, Warrant and a zillion other cardboard cut-outs. Some good – some bad, so let’s check out some of the lesser well known acts. In this feature, I will give a brief description of the band, a little bit of history, my assessment, and a mini review of some of their music – and then a score out of 10.
First up is a band called Letchen Grey, who’d been around since about 84. I’d wrongly assumed that Lizzie Grey was in this band. The band featured ex- members of Sexists and Energy, and the singer went on to be in Jekyll. No big names here, in 2011 I guess they are all working days jobs. I’m listening to the band’s only release, an EP called ‘Party Politics’ that was released in 86. The 5 songs on the EP aren’t bad – but they are not great either. It’s all pretty much non descript, garden variety heavy metal. There’s a lot of good licks, the band sound tight, but the songs are just a tad cliché and the vocals are very weak and thin sounding. The vocals let the whole thing down. ‘Bring On the Night’ tries to establish a big moody rock opus ala Foreigner – but falls short of the mark. Points for effort though, I’ve heard worse than this. ‘Play With Fire’ has that derivative metal riff you’ve heard a thousand times and a high pitched vocal on the chorus that just stinks. The solo is good though. ‘Sexie Sadie’ goes for that low down blooze kinda sound, kinda reminds me of Allanah Myles’ hit ‘Black Velvet’. Lyrically though, I thought maybe this tune is some kind of ode to Manson woman Susan ‘Sexy Sadie’ Atkins ? Not sure, but lyrically its cliché city. “I’m drinking whiskey and I’m drinking wine”. Again, it’s not a bad solo though. ‘Can’t Help It’ again starts off well with a great riff, but that vocal – it sounds like a teenage girl. Again, nothing stand outish. ‘No Way Out’ is probably the best song here. It’s a good rocker with some nice harmony vocals. Nothing too original, good rock though. The photo of the band (with bottle of Wild Turkey & game of poker) s pretty indicative of the band’s sound – far too many clichés and lacking originality. Not an ugly bunch of blokes- but not pin-up poster material either though. 4 out of 10. Next!