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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Somewhere in Time Tuesday with Metal Mark: Warrant - Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinking Rich

Artwork (c) Iron Maiden

I remember being over at Ray’s house one time in 1989 and we were watching Headbanger’s Ball. Generally it was still a pretty good show at that time. Sometimes they would show the same old Motley Crue and Def Leppard videos all too often. Still, they made up for it by showing the likes of King Diamond, Kreator and Metal Church.

On this particular night a video came on towards the beginning of the program by a band I had never heard of. It was Warrant and the song was “Down Boys.” Like thirty seconds in Ray and I looked at each other with looks that said “What in the world is this garbage?” That’s a question I still ask about this band twenty years later.

A few months after this I had a co-worker who I would trade tapes with. Normally his tastes were decent, but this time he insisted I borrow Warrant’s debut and he went on about how good it was. I grudgingly agreed.

Somehow I forced myself to take in the whole album from start to finish. Afterwards I just couldn’t fathom how this band got a record deal. I also didn’t know who this was supposed to appeal to. It was limp, so metal fans shouldn’t like this sewage; it was dull and not even memorable at all. Yet someone liked it as this band and others like them opened up a floodgate for some other lame hard rock bands that would spoil the scene from say, '89-91.

In recent years I got a copy of this CD for free so I gave it a chance. Same results as Warrant are a band that couldn’t summon up a good, solid hook if their lives depended on it. Jani Lane can carry a tune to some extent, but he has no clue as how to inject any emotion into his delivery.

The CD still sits on my shelf collecting dust. Maybe in another year or two I will take it out and give it another shot, but I have a feeling that the results will be the same.

Ray's note: I rememeber the night in question and thinking to myself, is this where heavy metal is heading? How could so many people buy into this but not Overkill, who more often than not, like King Diamond, were held towards the end of each show in order to keep the true headbangers tuned in while MTV pelted us with rotten egg AOR pop rock. It was a deliberate ploy I still find distasteful today.

Def Leppard had already sold out with
Hysteria, excruciating enough to watch every single week, and Priest was trying to win their fans back after casting them down the river with Turbo. Bon Jovi, well, outside of their debut album and their two cowboy tunes, they were the dagger thrust into our beloved scene. Warrant's arrival, subsequently followed by Slaughter, Firehouse and a watered-down Great White only told me we were in deep, deep trouble and their labels had greased the wheels with plenty of payola to force that tripe down our throats.

I don't have any personal qualms with the members of fact, I was briefly in contact on a regular basis with their later guitarist Billy Morris, who was a stand-up dude. However, this album especially leaves a sour aftertaste in my mouth to the point I remember deliberately holding my whiz during HBB each week until "Down Boys" and afterwards "Heaven" manifested like it did every dirty rotten filthy stinking week. The most honorable thing Warrant did in their cash cow career was to openly get on VH-1 in the nineties and declare "Hi, we're Warrant and we destroyed heavy metal!" That's the gospel, boys...


Metal Mark said...

I blame the record companys more than the bands perhaps. I can't begrudge some no-talent band for jumping at a major label deal. Hey, I am sure using piles of hair spray and running around like a jackass on a video beats delivering pizzas. However I have a bigger problem with labels signing bands they know are not that good and trying to pass this watered down tripe as heavy metal.

bob_vinyl said...

Hey, they had long hair. Didn't that make them a metal band?

Metal Mark said...

bob-Only in the eyes of certain record label executives.

Ray Van Horn, Jr. said...

I think Warrant's Behind the Music special really says it all...they made themselves corporate whores, ran way with the loot and one day showed up at the office to see their Cherry Pie banner replaced with the next Aqua Net chump change band after them

bob_vinyl said...

They're bad guys. They take something as beautiful as rock n roll and treat it like a whore.

Ray Van Horn, Jr. said...

I'm sure it didn't bother them then, but one day I'm sure they woke up and realized how hard it is to maintain a audience when you start of as prefab...once Warrant tried to get a little serious down the pike nobody was listening...that has to be quite a hangover

Ray Van Horn, Jr. said...

Oh, and I think Jello Biafra has quite a bit to say on this from the DK years... drool, drool drool, drool, payola!!!

Metal Mark said...

Ray-Nobody was listening when Warrant tried to be heavier because by that time the whole scene had changed. At that point nobody cared whether those hair bands bands were trying to be heavier or trying to play the Star Splangled banner with their hand and their armpits.
Let's not forget that once get bands like Motley Crue and Def Leppard also helped water down the music in the name of money as well.

Ray Van Horn, Jr. said...

Damn skippy, and I flagged Def Leppard in my commentary and I still find Girls Girls Girls inexcusable