The Spectacular Rise, Fall and Rebirth of Hair Metal by Christopher Hilton – Book Review

My favorite era of music is the so called, 80’s Hair Metal scene. Of course, back then it was just rock and didn’t yet have a label, but that was the music for me. I know a lot about that era and the bands so any time I can get my hands on a book about that time, I am all over it. I took a chance on this one called ‘The Spectacular Rise, Fall and Rebirth of Hair Metal by Christopher Hilton. The book had a 4.4 rating so I thought I would give it a shot.

The book goes chronologically through each year of the scene and goes all the way up to 2019/20. When it gets to the 90’s and 2000’s, the chapters start to cover more than one year as it would be too much. I was expecting some great stories and maybe interviews from people of that era and from those involved in the scene, but that is not what I got at all. The author went through and talked mostly about the biggest bands of the era including Motley Crue, Def Leppard, Bon Jovi, Poison, L.A. Guns, Faster Pussycat and the like and he went through each album and the best songs on the album. At the end of each year he ranked the best album. Honestly, it felt like I was either reading wikipedia or maybe even something I would have written with my limited knowledge of these bands. It was rather pedestrian.

The stories about the bands were the same old stories we’ve heard all the time, there was really nothing new at all. No interviews, no real thought provoking insight, no real meat at all. He always focused on the biggest bands and seldom if ever brought up bands that were lesser known that were completely overlooked. The only good thing is he did follow the music in to the 90’s (and he mentioned Paul Laine of Danger Danger) and how the bands changed their sound and style and then went in to the 2000’s where the 80’s Rock scene saw a major resurgence. He even went as far a talking about the new bands in the 21st Century that have taken up the 80’s glam scene and how a lot of them come from Europe, especially Scandinavia. A good list of bands to check out. Most of them I already knew about, but for newbie’s that part is worth checking out.

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The Original vs. The Cover – “Smokin’ In the Boy’s Room”

For this episdoe of The Original vs. The Cover, we are going to discuss the anthem for the outcast, “Smokin’ in the Boy’s Room. The Original is by the band Brownsville Station who were a regional band out of Michigan and this was probably their biggest hit and was off their 1973 album ‘Yeah!’ (I wonder if this title inspired the title to Def Leppard’s Cover’s album. Hmmm). It reached #3 on the Billboard Charts. The Cover as done by Motley Crue was off their album ‘Theatre of Pain’ from 1985. Crue only took the song to #16 on the Billboard Chart, but MTV played the crap out of this song.

The song was written by Michael “Cub” Koda along with Michael Lutz and is about a bunch of outcast school kids who would hideout in the bathroom to not get caught by the principal for smokin’. They get caught and the principal tells them “Smokin’ Ain’t Allowed in School”. The song was inspired by Cub’s experiences as a young pup sneaking smokes that he stole from his parents at the movie theatre.

Whose version is better you might ask yourself so let us explore each song and find out which version is best.

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My Top 10 Concerts of All Time

It has been over a year now since I have seen a live show and it could be another year before I get to see another one. I started thinking back on all the shows I have seen and the memories came flooding back. Now back some time last year, the LeBrain Train: 2000 Words or Less did a live stream on the Nigel Tufnel Top 10 Favorite Live Shows of all time. Each guests gave a list of their 11 favorite shows and I had a list for the show. I thought why not spell it out here for everyone to read in all its glory and add some pictures and extra information, if I have any. I hope you enjoy.

11. Motley Crue – Girls, Girls, Girls Tour (1987):

November 22, 1987 at the Omni in Atlanta, GA.  The opening act was Guns N Roses.  The lineup alone makes it a favorite but what happened at the show is why it is on the list. It was not a good show at all which is why it is down at 11.  It is only on the list for what happened at the show. During GNR’s set, Axl jumps off stage at about the 2nd song to grab a security guard who pushed his friend.  Axl is held backstage while the band plays a couple songs (“Communication Breakdown” and “Honky Tonk Women”) with one of their roadies and that was all got from them.  Motley delayed coming on and then put in a half-ass show and left early in protest of Axl’s arrest (at least this is the rumor we heard).  It pissed me off so much I stopped listening to both bands for awhile. Ticket prices at the time were only $17.50.

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My Sunday Song – “Shout at the Devil” by Motley Crue

For My Sunday Song #190, we are ending the 10 song Motley Crue set with the band’s most controversial song “Shout at the Devil” of the album of the same name.  The song and album came out in 1983 and let me tell you, it upset a lot of people.  Not us kids at the time, but the parents.  The controversy only helped the band and the song.  The song didn’t do great on the radio, but the album went onto hit #17 on the Billboard album chart and sold over 4 million copies in the U.S. alone.

The song and album were originally going to be “Shout With The Devil”, but Tom Zutaut who signed the band to Elektra was not having it.  He was having a hard time selling the idea to the label.  The fear of satanism and the uproar it could cause was not going to fly.  However, during a drug filled evening, something freaky happened to Tom and Nikki when a knife and fork rose from the table and they stuck in the ceiling.  I am sure it was the drugs talking and probably Tommy throwing up there, but whatever. They decided that it was not Shout With the Devil, but Shout At the Devil instead as they feared that shouting with the devil was going to get Nikki killed.

The album opens with the a spoken track called “In the Beginning” that was so freaking evil sounding that it was the perfect segue in to the song.  The song is so heavy and bombastic that it oozes evil.  Vince sings at such high notes that only the Devil’s Dogs can hear them.  Mick Mars on guitar is nothing short of evil personified and rips through the strings like the devil’s pitchfork rips through your heart.  As I kid, I was never concerned with it being a satanic song, I thought it was cool and guess what, I didn’t turn out evil and kill a lot of people…some maybe, but not a lot!!!

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My Sunday Song – “Dr. Feelgood” by Motley Crue

For My Sunday Song #189, we are tackling one of the band’s signature songs, “Dr. Feelgood”.  The song is the title track of the 1989 album and the band’s first album sober!!  The band had some radio success as this hit #20 on Billboard’s Hot Rock Songs and it did go to #6 on the Billboard Hot 100, but their success was really MTV and those videos.  This one was played all the time!

Being newly sober, it was funny how many songs on the album were about drugs and OD’ing, but I guess that was still all Nikki and company knew.  This song is no different. It is about drug dealers…not one drug dealer all of them as Nikki has been quoted as saying that “every good drug addict always has more than one.”  The drug dealers gave Nikki his fix and they also gave him and Motley Crue a song to be remembered.

The song comes slamming in with Tommy’s drum beat that grabs hold and pulls you right in just like a good fix will do.  Mick lays down a nasty guitar riff that is instantly recognizable.  Already the addiction to the song is in full swing.  The lyrics written by Nikki and delivered by Vince who captures the essence of the song and he sounds fantastic hitting notes he only now wishes he could still hit.  Then Mick’s guitar solo comes in slow and dirty before he shreds the strings like the needles shred your arm.  It is junky filled rush of a song.

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My Sunday Song – “Home Sweet Home” by Motley Crue

For My Sunday Song #188, we are going to pontificate on the greatness of Motley Crue’s song “Home Sweet Home”.  How great is it you ask?  So great that it got overplayed to death and now I am sick of it.  However, that doesn’t make it any less great.  The song is off the horrible album ‘Theatre of Pain’ which was released in 1985.  The song was released as a single and did nothing on the radio. On MTV, that is a different story.

The song is a ballad and is about the band’s life on the road.  After being out on the road for 18 months touring on the album ‘Shout at the Devil’, the band couldn’t wait to get home.  When they got home, they were so bored they started getting in to a lot of trouble, but they did write this song.  It was a song the record company didn’t want to release, but the band stuck to their guns and financed the video themselves.  The video showed the band on and off stage from several concerts and the less happy life of road life.  That video blew up on MTV, but the record company didn’t promote it on the radio so it flopped there and was never officially a hit.  This song helped prove that all metal bands at the time, better have a freaking ballad on their album if they want to succeed.

The song opens with Tommy Lee on piano and like every ballad has its slow moments and those power moments that picked up the volume and tempo.  It even includes a brilliant guitar solo by Mick Mars where he shreds the crap out of that guitar.  The song then ends as it began with Tommy on the piano and then Vince humming the song before fading out.  It was so popular for the band, that the last song they ever played when the broke up as band was “Home Sweet Home”.  Now, we know that it actually won’t be the last song they played live as they are back and about to Tour…again.

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My Sunday Song – “Wild Side” by Motley Crue

For My Sunday Song #187, we are going a little nuts with the song “The Wild Side” by Motley Crue. The song is off the band’s 1987 album ‘Girls, Girls, Girls’ which went to #2 on the Billboard charts and saw three singles including this one. It sold well over 4 million albums in the U.S. alone and saw the band reach another level of success.

The song “Wild Side” is very similar to the song we did last week, “Saints of Los Angeles”.  They both talk about their lives on the Sunset Strip and both reference the Lord’s Prayer.  “SOLA” opened with Vince speaking it and “WildSide” was inspired by a school girl who Nikki asked to recite the Lord’s Prayer and then he incorporated some of the prayer in to the lyrics like below…

“Our father
Who ain’t in heaven
Be thy name on the wild side”

The song is about the dirty side of the Strip with all the drugs, pimping, and many other abuses going on at that time in their lives.  Heck, even Nikki wrote when he was severely hooked on Heroin.

Musically, it belts at as a rocker with a mean guitar riff by Mick Mars. The pace goes from fast to slow with tempos reaching 118 beats per minute at one time.  There is actually no guitar solo in the song only many instances of Mick belting out some cool riffs and guitar parts.  Tommy pounds away and you can tell it is him on those drums. Vince sounds great and still so young.  And Nikki is always doing his thing.  There is a blues sound to the song as well and ends with sirens, breaking glass, gunfire and lots of mayhem.

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My Sunday Song – “Saints of Los Angeles” by Motley Crue

For My Sunday Song #186, we are exploring the title track to the band’s 2008 album ‘Saints of Los Angeles’ and their last album at this point in time.  The song was the debut single and was the first single released simultaneously as normal single release and a download through the video game Rock Band.  A creative way to make some noise and get their name out there.

The album is loosely based on the band’s book “The Dirt”, I believe we have all heard of that book and Netflix movie.  The song was written by every member of the band…not Motley Crue, but Sixx A.M.. That is Nikki’s other band and they pretty much had their hands in this entire album so really this is a Sixx A.M. album performed by Motley Crue.

The song is a rocker and anthem that celebrates the band coming up in L.A. and being rock & roll kings.  It has references to playing at the Troubadour and all the partying and drugs they did back in the day.  The Gang Vocal version opens with Vince softly speaking the Lord’s Prayer.  And it has Josh Todd (Buckcherry), Jacoby Shaddix (Papa Roach), James Michael (Sixx A.M.) and Chris Taylor Brown (Los Gatos) on backing vocals.  It comes at you like a fist to the face and all the Motley elements you want in a song including Mick’s guitars and Tommy’s drum sound.  It was a welcome return to a band that needed a hit record.

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My Sunday Song – “Afraid” by Motley Crue

For My Sunday Song #185, we will discuss “Afraid” by Motley Crue off their 1997 release ‘Generation Swine’.  This was the first single off the album and first single to feature Vince Neil back in the band. The song reached #10 on the rock charts, but I don’t remember much noise being made as music had changed significantly.

The song was written by Nikki Sixx and was about his relationship with Donna D’Errico.  As she felt she was getting to close to him, she ended up running away.  I think he feels she is so broken that she is incapable of a relationship.  That fear of being too close to anyway; heck, I think that is something we have all felt at one time or another.

Musically, the song rocks out, they tried to modernize their sound to fit the late 90’s and they do a good job.  However, it sounds like Motley Crue like it should.  They didn’t try and turn it in to anything grunge thankfully as Grunge was kind of over at this point.  The guitar work by Mick is great, loud and heavy, but has a melodic feel that gives the tune some solid emotion.  Nikki and Tommy lay down the groove and keep a great rhythm.  Vince sounds fantastic.  The trademark little screams and it was nice to hear the band back together again.

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My Sunday Song – “Kickstart My Heart” by Motley Crue

For My Sunday Song #184, we will discuss the rocking track “Kickstart My Heart” off their 1989 album ‘Dr. Feelgood’.  The song was from the band’s 1989 album ‘Dr. Feelgood’ and was the the 2nd single from the album. And it did well.  It was on constant rotation on MTV and reached #9 on the US Rock charts.  It helped propel Motley Crue even higher in their rise to the top.

The story of the song is really well known, so nothin new I can bring to it other than rehash it. The song title of “Kickstart my Heart” is famously documented as a result of Nikki Sixx overdosing the paramedics having to use the paddles on him to jump start him back to life.  Of course, Steven Adler from Guns ‘N Roses disputes some of the accuracies of that statement.  He claims he assisted in bring him back and not so much the paramedics.  Either way, still scary that he died and was brought back (on more than once occasion I believe).

Nikki had written the song, but didn’t feel it was good enough for the album until the band’s former manager read the lyrics, he told him to take it to the band.  And thankfully he did as it turned in to one hell of a rock anthem.

The song kicks off with some cool notes on guitar by Mick imitating an engine revving up shifting gears and then another cool riff comes through electrifying the song and taking it to another level with breakneck speed.  The driving riff, bass and drums makes you feel like you are speeding down the road ready to crash in to everything.  There is a break and change in tempo before ripping it again.  There is a voice box used on the guitar (like a lot of 80’s rock songs did) and the band crushes it from beginning to end.

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