Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Ron Keel: Metal Cowboy

Sometimes you just stumble upon something by accident that you really weren't looking for, but was exactly what you needed to find. That's what happened to me a few days ago.

Anyone who was deep into 80's hard rock, otherwise known as hair metal, knows of the band Keel, led by lead singer Ron Keel. We've probably all tried to scrub this video from our memories:

And there was this over-choreographed cover of "Because the Night". The song itself is not bad, but the video.....

Ok, enough of that. I have a good song/bad video series. This is about Ron Keel's solo release in early 2014.

It's an interesting mix of Southern Rock, 80's Hard Rock and Country. And surprisingly, it all works. Personally, I think the country stuff works best. Here's a live acoustic solo performance of "Just Like Tennessee".

This is probably one of the most traditional country songs I've heard in 2014.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Don't Compare Bro-Country to Hair Metal

I've read/heard it many times: Bro-Country is country music's version of Hair Metal.

Well, a tweet from @FarceTheMusic sent me down a Cinderella (the band, not the book/movie) wormhole that ended with a thorough exploration of the music of my high school years.

The actual tweet: Cinderella's "Heartbreak Station" is one of my favorite alt-country ballads ever.

Of course I went back and listened. He's right. And that's what sent me down the wormhole. There are many Cinderella songs that are very country-tinged. But what other 80's Hard Rock bands were doing the same thing? Not exactly the same thing, but stuff that would be considered a different genre 25-30 years later.

Here is Cinderella's "Heartbreak Station".

Cinderella was always more hard blues rock than Hair Metal anyway. They, along with some of the others I will post just kind of go lumped into the category, fair or not. I could post a few more Cinderella songs here, but I want to diversify.

LA sleaze rockers put out some really good Americana type songs in the 80s. One I really like is Faster Pussycat's "House of Pain".

Another sleaze rock band with this type of song was LA Guns. "Ballad of Jayne" is a great song.

Even the ultimate Hair Metal band had several songs of substance. Here is Poison's "Something to Believe In".

Great White got pegged into the same Hair Metal category, but like Cinderella, they were always more bluesy hard rock. I had a hard time choosing which song of theirs to go with, but I chose "House of Broken Love".

Did I cherry pick? Of course I did. But these songs were all released as singles. I didn't dig deep into album cuts. I just get tired of people dismissing Hair Metal and now referring to it as "Butt Rock". It's 80s hard rock and lot of it stands the test of time. I admit, there was a bunch of crap, especially towards the end, but don't throw the baby out with the bathwater.

And everyone should be reading Farce the Music. Funny, snarky and fantastic.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Good Song, Bad Video: Billy Squier: Rock Me Tonite

This one should really be titled Decent Song, Career Killing Video.

The video will speak for itself, but I'll offer a little history here.

Billy Squier was well on his way to becoming a hard rock/pop metal superstar in the early 80's. After two iconic albums, Don't Say No and Emotions In Motion Squier had hits that have become classic rock staples like "The Stroke", "Lonely is the Night", "Everybody Wants You" and "My Kind of Lover". His next album Signs of Life came out in 1984 and Squier was ready to take the rock world by storm. And then the video happened.

In Squier's own words, "I was playing to half-houses. I went from 15,000 and 20,000 people a night to 10,000 people. Everything I’d worked for my whole life was crumbling, and I couldn’t stop it. How can a four-minute video do that?"

How can a four-minute video do that? Oh it's bad. It's really, really bad. But career-killing bad? I'll let you be the judge.

Don't cry for Bill Squier, he's made millions from being the most sampled artist by the hip hop industry.

This, recorded in 2009, shows that Squier still rocks. And this is also more along the lines of the video Capitol Records should have released in 1984.

Just to show those moves in the horrible video for for "Rock Me Tonite" are not out of character, watch this live recording from 1983 for "Everybody Wants You". Much cooler with a guitar in hand.