Sunday, July 31, 2016

50SHR #11: Open Fire (Hawaii)



Band: Open Fire
Release: No Uncle of Mine!
Year: 1995
Line-up: Erich Wida (vocals), Chris Yamamoto (guitar), Jack Azevedo (bass), Mike Patterson (drums)

Track Listing:
01. Can’t Find My Way
02. Takin’ All My Money
03. Judging The Book By The Cover
04. Soldier Of Misfortune
05. Gone Away
06. Nothin’ Left To Lose
07. Memory’s Gone
08. What’s Buggin’ Me
09. One Step Closer
10. I Am The Killer

Fletchanator's comment: I previously posted the ultra-rare cassette-only 1990 EP by this band here and now here is the only full-length album from this Hawaiian four-piece. 
Whereas the EP has a sleazy edge to it (while being firmly in the melodic metal camp), on No Uncle of Mine Open Fire have ramped up the heavy side of things, to the point where I can hear influences from Pantera (their heavier stuff not their early glam material), Faith No More and Alice in Chains (some of the harmonies, not the music). No doubt this move away from hair metal was due to the changing music scene and an attempt to cash in on what was hot at the time. It's a shame but Open Fire certainly aren't the only band to have done this.
If you're a fan of any of the bands I mentioned above and like your hard rock a little heavy with a side helping of funk, you'll enjoy this.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

50SHR #10: Fortnox (Georgia)



Band: Fortnox
Release: Fortnox
Year: 1982
Line-up: Joel Shipp (vocals, bass), Rick Fowler (guitar), Nathan De Foor (drums)

Track Listing:

01 - On The Prowl
02 - Storm Inside My Head
03 - Running From Yourself
04 - The Beast In Me
05 - Rock n Roll City
06 - What About Me
07 - Lucifer's Eyes
08 - Rockin' In America
09 - Another Lady
10 - Don't Scratch The Surface
11 - Hyperock

Fletchanator's comment: Out of Atlanta, Georgia came short-lived trio Fortnox, who released just the one album of tunes that range from AOR-tinged rock to southern rock to melodic heavy metal (albeit at the softer end of that genre). Their song Storm Inside My Head went to number 44 on the US AOR charts and the video got airtime on MTV, but Fortnox were unable to capitalise on it and soon broke up.
Talented axeman Rick Fowler went on to become one of his home state's most renowned blues guitarists, playing in side projects of members of high-profile bands like REM, Government Mule and Traffic, as well as playing in a string of bands like Bombay and The Lonely White Boys. Singer Joel Shipp apparently gave up music and became a school teacher.
Recommended for fans of bands like Axe, Blackfoot, KISS and Thin Lizzy.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

50SHR #9: Nova Rex (Florida)



Band: Nova Rex

Release: Blow Me Away
Year: 1992
Line-up: Abbie Stancato (vocals), JP Cervoni (guitars), Kenny Wilkerson (bass), Tim Berry (drums)

Track Listing:
1.  Bitch  
2.  Think Of Me  
3.  Children Of The Night  
4.  Can't Find Love  
5.  Alone Tonight  
6.  Black And Blues  
7.  Blow Me Away  

Release: Ain't Easy Being Cheesy
Year: 1994
Line-up: Derek Madison (vocals), JP Cervoni (guitars, keyboards), Kenny Wilkerson (bass), John Plantero (drums)

Track Listing:

1.  Think Of Me  
2.  Don't Give Up  
3.  Bitch  
4.  I Luv You  
5.  Rock N' Roll Part 1  
6.  Love Sucks  
7.  Alone Tonight  
8.  JP Blues  
9.  I Just Wanna Rock  

Fletchanator's comment: While I've included the band Nova Rex under Florida in this countdown, I could just as easily have put them under Indiana. Allow me to explain: The band was formed in Florida in the mid-80s and made the typical move to Hollywood, but when that scene started dying a horrible death (aka grungepocalypse) they relocated to Indiana, home state of bassist Kenny Wilkerson, and enjoyed a rebirth on the local scene there. However, since their roots were in the Sunshine State, I think Florida is the better pick.
As you can see, I've made the unusual move of posting *two* albums by Nova Rex. The first, 1992's Blow Me Away, is the band's second release (their self-titled 1987 album is impossible to find these days), with Abbie Stancato on vocals. It's a great album, in particular the three tracks Children of the Night, Can't Find Love and Alone Tonight - the latter being a fantastic AOR-ish ballad.
The follow-up, 1994's Ain't Easy Being Cheesy, is rockier and features new singer Derek Madison, whose voice is more gravelly and raw. An easy comparison can be drawn between the two singers because the songs Bitch and Alone Tonight are on both albums - in my opinion both vocalists are very good, although Madison probably has the more traditional "hard rock" voice suited to more rocking tunes, while Stancato suits the more AOR-sounding stuff.
Singers aside, the real key to Nova Rex's sound is the excellent axemanship of JP Cervoni, and the tight playing of bassist Kenny Wilkerson (Cervoni and Wilkerson were also the core songwriters for the band). Cervoni shines on both albums with some nice licks and tasty solos and gets to really show his stuff on the instrumental JP Blues.
In 2011 Nova Rex released a behind-the-scenes DVD also called Ain't Easy Being Cheesy. I haven't seen it, but by all accounts it's a humorous look back at their glory days and how the band members are living now.
I highly recommend both of these albums!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

50SHR #8: Crystal Roxx (Delaware)



Band: Crystal Roxx
Release: Pass the Buck
Year: 1992
Line-up: Richie Angelucci (vocals), Vinnie Martello (guitars), Jimmy Kaye (bass), Anthony Baker (drums), Brian Delaney (keyboards)

Track Listing:
1.  Big City  4:27
2.  Hollywood  4:50
3.  Does it Matter  6:06
4.  Get Up Get Out  4:18
5.  Violet Eyes  5:38
6.  On My Way  4:33
7.  Be Mine to Satisfy  4:17
8.  For You  4:50
9.  Runaway  3:42
10.  Stay With Me  3:26

Fletchanator's comment: What hair metal series would be complete without at least one band featuring that over-used word Roxx? From Delaware come Crystal Roxx, a band who are still together to this day as a covers band in the tri-state area. In the early 90s they released a series of albums - this being their first on an actual record label.
Like a lot of 80s/early 90s bands from the New Jersey area, Crystal Roxx have a definite Bon Jovi vibe to them. Singer Richie Angelucci sounds a lot like JBJ at times, especially on the ballads (Does It Matter, Violet Eyes, For You, Stay With Me). Musically they play a style of hard rock reminiscent of bands like Kick Axe, Dokken and the aforementioned Bon Jovi. Solid stuff, definitely worth a listen.


Monday, July 25, 2016

50SHR #7: Grady Cain (Connecticut)



Band: Grady Cain
Release: Faces of Cain
Year: 1995
Line-up: Bootsy Ryan (vocals), John MacBeth (guitars), Chuck Palmer (bass), Mark Ahles (drums).

Track Listing:
1.  Goodbye to the Stranger  
2.  Rain  
3.  Sacrifice  
4.  The Manic  
5.  Get Out  
6.  Ride The Wave  
7.  Why?  
8.  Everyday  
9.  Gypsy Woman  
10.  Bones in the Kitchen  

Fletchanator's comment: From my former home state (I lived in CT between 2000 and 2002, before returning to my native New Zealand) comes bluesy hard rock four-piece Grady Cain.
This is another obscure release, the only one by this band, which is hardly surprising - a hair metal debut in 1995 when this type of music was virtually dead was a recipe for disaster. I don't know where exactly in CT Grady Cain were from, but the album was released through Backstreet Records in Terryville, just outside of the state capitol Hartford, so I would guess somewhere in that area.
Grady Cain's sound is very bluesy and Led Zeppelin-influenced, while singer Bootsy Ryan sounds like a cross between Axl Rose and Kingdom Come's Lenny Wolf. It's a great mixture, because the end result is kickass and the production values are top notch for a regional release.

50SHR #6: L.A. Ray and the Shades (Colorado)



Band: L.A. Ray and the Shades
Release: Wild Weekend
Year: 1985
Line-up: Unknown

Track Listing:
1.  Do It All Night 
2.  City Lights 
3.  So Glad 
4.  Lady Ice
5.  Why Don't You 
6.  Victim of Love
7.  Rockin' in Time 
8.  Don't Want to Be Lonely   
9.  It Only Takes a Minute
10.  No Goodbyes

Fletchanator's comment: This is a very rare, obscure recording - so obscure in fact that I couldn't find a listing of band members anywhere. All I know is they're apparently from Colorado and released this album on small private label Wet Records.
L.A. Ray and the Shades is a very 80s name for a band, and their sound suits the name. They play AOR that varies between late-70s pomp to more rocking tunes. The singer is very good, sounding a bit like James Young from Styx, while the guitaring reminds me of Rick Nielsen from Cheap Trick.
If you like 80s AOR like Journey, Loverboy and the like, you'll find plenty to enjoy here.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

50SHR #5: Asphalt Ballet (California)


Band: Asphalt Ballet
Release: Asphalt Ballet
Year: 1991
Line-up: Gary Jeffries (vocals), Julius Ulrich (guitars), Danny Clarke (guitars), Terry Phillips (bass), Mikki Kiner (drums).

Track Listing:
1.  Hell's Kitchen  2:55
2.  Soul Survive  4:22
3.  Tuesday's Rain  4:18
4.  Unlucky Mr. Lucky  3:47
5.  End of My Rope  4:03
6.  Heaven Winds Blow  3:55
7.  Blood on the Highway  4:00
8.  Goodbye Yesterday  4:33
9.  Wasted Time  3:40
10.  Taking a Walk  4:03
11.  Hangman Swing  3:42
12.  Blue Movie  3:52
13.  Do it All Over Again  2:19

Fletchanator's comment: Let's face it, I could have chosen from dozens (if not hundreds) of glam metal/hard rock bands that were formed in Los Angeles for this pick. San Francisco also had a good number of hair metal bands back in the day. But I decided to go for a Californian city that doesn't get as much love - San Diego.
From that southern Cali locale came Asphalt Ballet in 1991 with their self-titled debut, which actually sounds like crawled out of the backwoods of Georgia or another state in the old south. Their sound is less Sunset Strip and more southern hard rock, in the style of Dangerous Toys and Sister Whiskey. So expect a bluesy edge and the odd harmonica solo.
The highlight of this album is undoubtedly Gary Jeffries' voice. He has a slight rasp, but rather than going full-rasp like a Tom Keifer he sings more cleanly and keeps the rasp for the edges of his singing. Asphalt Ballet did manage a follow-up album - Pigs - in 1993, but replaced Jeffries with Axl Rose soundalike Tommy Dean. Jeffries went on to front the band Alligator Stew and today tours with his own southern rock band, The Gary Lee Jeffries Band.

Friday, July 22, 2016

50SHR #4: Black Oak Arkansas (Arkansas)


Band: Black Oak Arkansas
Release: The Black Attack is Back
Year: 1986
Line-up: Jim Dandy (vocals), Michael Martin (guitars), Biff Bingham (guitars), Mike Farriss (bass), Jerry A Williams (drums).

Track Listing:

1. Long Distance Runner     4:01
2.  I'm on Your Side 5:21
3.  The Black Attack is Back    3:17
4.  Body Slam 3:13
5.  You Can't Keep a Good Band Down     2:10
6.  The Wanderer3:35
7.  I Don't Want Much out of Life3:35
8.  Angel 4:11
9.  I Need More Love  3:13
10.  (I want a woman with) Big Titties3:22

Fletchanator's comment: Black Oak Arkansas aren't a band that you'd normally associate with glam metal or hard rock. Named after their hometown, BOA were firmly a southern rock band through most of their existence, but in the mid-80s they released two albums that shifted into hard rock/melodic metal territory - 1985's Ready as Hell and this one a year later.
Interestingly lead singer Jim Dandy's name takes top billing on both albums, making it appear almost as if they are solo albums. The name Black Oak Arkansas is still attached, but completely different musicians are used, so it's quite appropriate to think of them as Jim Dandy albums rather than BOA.
Despite BOA's southern rock pedigree, they were influential on glam metal, in particular the band Van Halen. Take a look at any of the old BOA videos on YouTube and you'll see Jim Dandy being David Lee Roth before Diamond Dave was doing it.
There are a few southern rock touches on The Black Attack is Back (like the song I Don't Want Much out of Life), but for the most part it varies between bluesy hard rock and glam metal. Jim Dandy's weird vocals don't mesh overly well with the sound at times, but other than that it's a decent listen.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

50SHR #3: Icon (Arizona)


Band: Icon
Release: Night of the Crime
Year: 1985
Line-up: Stephen Clifford (vocals), Dan Wexler (guitars, synth), John Aquilino (guitars), Tracy Wallach (bass), Pat Dixon (drums)

Track Listing:
1. Naked Eyes  4:04
2.  Missing  4:30
3.  Danger Callin'  3:40
4.  Shot at my Heart  3:21
5.  Out for Blood  5:41
6.  Raise the Hammer  3:32
7.  Frozen Tears  3:58
8.  Hungry for Love  4:17
9.  Whites of their Eyes  3:46
10.  Rock my Radio  4:14

Fletchanator's comment: Icon were formed in 1979 under the name The Schoolboys by literally that - a group of schoolboys from Phoenix, Arizona.
Clifford, Wexler and Wallach remained the core of the band as they changed their name to Icon and signed with Capitol Records, Aquilino and Dixon joining in time for their self-titled debut album in 1984. That release was melodic metal, but the following year they changed tack with the AOR-sounding Night of the Crime. Clifford soon left and a new singer joined for another couple of albums, but Clifford has since rejoined in recent years.
As already noted, this album has a more AOR-ish sound than their debut album, with Clifford's vocals having a more smooth sound to them and the incorporation of keyboards and more harmonies. The guitars still rock though, putting this in a melodic hard rock/hard AOR category. It's great stuff, especially on the rockier tunes like Raise the Hammer.
As a bonus I've included the original Schoolboys EP - 1980's Singin' and Shoutin' - in the zip file, so you can hear how this awesome band got started.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Physical media collection update #4

It's been a while since I did one of these updates, so here's some of the physical media I've picked up in the past couple of months, all on vinyl.

Photo #1:

Great White - Recovery: Live (1987)
- Canadian pressing of this strange album from Great White. Pressing is of note because the US/Canada version is different than the European and Japanese versions. Side 1 is five covers (of songs by Led Zep, Beatles, Hendrix and Humble Pie) and Side 2 is live tracks from a show in 1983.
Great White - Great White (1984)
- Their debut album, a lot heavier than their later stuff like Once Bitten. UK pressing (of note because the original US pressing has a different cover - no band picture, plain black with band logo.

M.A.R.S. - Project Driver (1986)
- The only album by this heavy metal supergroup. The band name is from the first letters of the surnames of the members - guitarist Tony McAlpine, drummer Tommy Aldridge (Ozzy Osbourne, Whitesnake), singer Rob Rock (Impelliterri) and bassist Rudy Sarzo (Quiet Riot). Hard rock with an epic, almost Power Metal-ish edge.

Junkyard - Junkyard (1989)
- Debut album from these LA rockers, good bluesy hard rock. I see this one around a lot for cheap, but finally picked it up for $1 in mint condition from a thrift store.

Photo #2:

Rough Cutt - Wants You (1986)
- Second album by this excellent LA hard rock band. I love Paul Shortino's voice (I even really like the album he recorded with Quiet Riot). Great stuff.
Vixen - Love is a Killer 12" Picture Disc (1990)
-  The second single off Vixen's second album, Rev It Up. Backed with live versions of The Jam and I Want You to Rock Me.

April Wine - The Nature of the Beast (1981)
- Ninth studio album by the Canadian hard rock legends, highlighted by the stellar ballad Just Between You and Me.

The Outfield - Bangin' (1987)
- Second album by English rockers, who are best known for their big hit Your Love (off the first album). Nothing on here is as catchy as that song, but it's still solid AOR in the style of Loverboy.

50SHR #2: Alaska (Alaska)


Band: Alaska
Release: Heart of the Storm
Year: 1984
Line-up: Robert Hawthorn (vocals), Bernie Marsden (guitar), Brian Badhams (bass, piano), Don Airey (keyboards), John Marter (drums)

Track Listing:
1.Whiteout  3:48
2.  Don't Say It's Over  4:20
3.  Voice On The Radio  3:55
4.  Susie Blue  3:34
5.  Heart Of The Storm  5:25
6.  Need Your Love  4:17
7.  Can't Let Go  3:45
8.  Other Side Of Midnight  4:25
9.  Headlines  3:48
10.  The Socerer  6:02
11.  Coupe De Ville Bonus Track- Demo  3:17
12.  Coming Down On You Bonus Track  3:29
13.  Whiteout Bonus Track- Instrumental  4:18

Fletchanator's comment: I can already hear the howls of protest - "Alaska aren't actually from Alaska! In fact, they're not even from America!". It's true, this is an English band, but I failed to find a hard rock band from the state of Alaska, so I'm cheating by instead using the band named after the state. If you know of any Alaska-based hard rock/glam metal bands, please let me know!
Alaska was formed by ex-Whitesnake guitarist Bernie Marsden (who co-wrote their biggest ever hit, Here I Go Again) and put out two albums, this one and the following year's The Pack. Aside from Marsden, this band was notable for including keyboardist Don Airey of Deep Purple, Rainbow, Ozzy Osbourne etc.
In terms of sound, Alaska play keyboard-heavy AOR. Marsden gets the chance to show off his bluesy riffs throughout, but the keyboards are prominent. Robert Hawthorn's voice is like a mix between Bryan Adams and Rod Stewart. I prefer Marsden's work in heavier bands, but if keyboard-oriented AOR in the style of Angel, Boston and Asia is your bag, you'll dig this.

Monday, July 18, 2016

50SHR #1: Harlequinn Angel (Alabama)


Band: Harlequinn Angel
Release: Rock 'n Roll Heaven EP
Year: 1990
Line-up: Jann Coe (vocals), Denver Dewitt (guitars), Robb Rudd (bass), Billy Welch (keyboards), Brian Dewitt (drums).

Track Listing:
1. Good Time
2.  Searchin'
3.  I Alone
4.  Eye Spy 
5.  Angel Goodbye

Fletchanator's comment: This super-rare five-track EP is from female-fronted melodic hard rock band Harlequinn Angel, who were based in Birmingham, Alabama. It's a surprise they didn't go further because their sound and look was very commercial and the production values on this EP are top-notch - maybe if they'd come along five or six years earlier it would have been a different story.
Harlequinn Angel were a Christian band but their lyrics aren't overly blatant in their pushing of religion. Jann Coe has a great voice that at times is reminiscent of Pat Benatar and the band's playing is tight, with some nice solos from guitarist Denver Dewitt.
This EP will appeal most to fans of female-fronted hard rock along the lines of Saraya, Harlow and Vixen.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Announcing a new series

Over the coming weeks we here at House of Hairspray will be posting albums to a new theme called 50 States of Hard Rock.

It's a simple concept - all 50 states of the USA will be represented in the series, starting with Alabama and alphabetically working our way through to Wyoming. One band for each state, and an album that has never been posted on House of Hairspray before. Where possible we've tried to stay away from the obvious big-name bands and go for more rare/obscure artists.

We think it's going to be a lot of fun, and hopefully you'll agree! Keep an eye out for the first series post coming up soon!

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Trytan - Sylentiger (1990)

Country: USA
Year: 1990
Line-up: Lary Dean (vocals, guitars), Steve Robinson (bass, keyboards), Jim Dobbs (drums).

Track Listing:
1. Take Cover  
2.  Deadly Masquerade  
3.  Beyond the Night  
4.  Star Bound  
5.  Make Your Move  
6.  Sylentiger  
7.  Here to Stay  
8.  Playing with Fire  
9.  Life Goes On  
10.  Waking the Giant  
11.  By My Spirit  

Fletchanator's comment: Trytan were a Chicago-based Christian hard rock band who released two albums - Celestial Messenger in 1987 and this one - before disbanding in the early 90s. Apparently frontman Lary Dean is a church minister these days, calling himself an "extreme pastor" and renouncing his past "sinful" rock'n'roll lifestyle. But don't let that put you off giving Trytan a listen.
I've heard this band referred to as prog rock, but beyond Dean sounding similar to Rush's Geddy Lee I don't see that connection. They are pure glam metal, similar to a basic Ratt or Motley Crue. The combination of vocals and music are definitely quite unique sounding. Just one question remains: What the hell is a sylentiger?

Friday, July 15, 2016

Trixie - Trixie (2004)

Country: USA
Year: 2004
Line-up: Ronnie Borchert (vocals), Chad Foster (guitar), Michael Scott (guitar), Randy Arenas (bass), Dave Thomson (drums)

Track Listing:
1. She's So Tight  
2.  Too Late  
3.  What She Needs  
4.  Baby  
5.  I've Done Everything For You  
6.  I'll Take You  
7.  Last Chance  
8.  Runnin'  
9.  Lead Me On  
10.  No Matter What  
11.  When You Gonna Learn  
12.  C'mon Down  

Fletchanator's comment: In the early 2000s, singer Ronnie Borchert was one of the most prolific artists in the melodic hard rock scene. He recorded four albums with his band Amsterdam while also putting out three with this band, Trixie, and even a solo album. Band members came and went in both outfits, although guitarist Chad Foster and drummer Dave Thomson played for both bands. Sadly since 2006 not much has been heard from Borchert on the performing front, although he has produced several acts, including Miss Crazy.
This self-titled debut is solid from start to finish, and includes a cover of the Rick Springfield hit I've Done Everything For You. Take one listen to Borchert's voice and it's hard not to compare it to a young Vince Neil. But the overall sound of Trixie is more melodic and less raw-sounding than early Crue - bringing to mind the likes of Hysteria-era Def Leppard, Poison and later bands like Trixter and Firehouse. I highly recommend it!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Maxx Warrior - Maxx Warrior (1985)

Country: USA
Year: 1985
Line-up: Carl Snare (vocals), Alton Eddins (guitar), Scott Atkins (guitar), Perry Richardson (bass), Billy Dorey (drums).

Track Listing:

1. High on Metal       4:27
2.  It's Alright  3:15
3.  Taken by Force 4:31
4.  Burning Down the Gates of Hell 5:48

Fletchanator's comment: This is another case of an album that doesn't necessarily fit the theme of this blog, but which I'm posting because of who is in the band and what they would go on to do in the realm of hard rock.
Maxx Warrior, a South Carolina-based traditional heavy metal band, formed in 1980. When they split in the mid-80s, singer Carl Snare was snared (apologies for the bad pun) by two bandmates from a group called White Heat - guitarist Bill Leverty and drummer Michael Foster. Richardson soon joined them and the foursome (with the singer now going by CJ Snare) chose a new name, Firehouse. Together they became one of the most successful glam metal bands of the late 80s and early 90s.
Maxx Warrior's sound is obviously heavier than anything put out by Firehouse, but this EP is a worthy listen for any fans of that band, if only to hear CJ Snare belting out Judas Priest-esque high notes.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Lipstik - First Kiss (1990)

Country: Canada
Year: 1990
Line-up: Paul Gala (vocals, guitar), Charles V Rox (guitar), El Cicora (bass), Ange Curcio (drums).

Track Listing:
1. I Want You Want  3:59
2.  You're All I Need  4:35
3.  First Kiss  3:45
4.  Solo Tu 5:21

Fletchanator's comment: Montreal Canada-based four-piece Lipstik were apparently signed to Whitney Houston's management company, but sadly they are a footnote in history despite this EP kicking some serious butt. Originally called Rapid Fire, the band formed in high school in 1986, but despite having the backing of a music giant like Houston, they sadly folded in 1992/93 (aka the coming of the Grungeageddon).
In terms of sound, Lipstik play a brand of slick, tight hard rock that reminds me of a mix of Firehouse and Poison. Paul Gala has a great voice, I wonder what ever happened to him (if you know, let me know!). Of note is the fact that the second of two ballads, Solo Tu, is sang in Italian (all four members are of Italian descent).
With a great sound and look, it's a surprise that Lipstik didn't rise to the success of other early-90s glam bands like Firehouse and Slaughter. Definitely check them out, you won't be disappointed!

Saturday, July 9, 2016

We're back!

Hey guys, after a break of a couple of months during which life got crazy busy, House of Hairspray is back. In the next few days I will begin posting new albums to the blog.

I know a bunch of links stopped working while I was away, and it's too much work for me to go through all of the posts and find out which ones aren't working. So, I've added a chat/comment box on the right of this page - if you come across a broken link and want it reuploaded please post a comment about it in there and I'll get onto it.

Rock on!