HAIR TODAY...

Against my better judgement, a couple of months back my buddy Wayne convinced me that it would be in my interest to host a Facebook page to connect with all the people who think it’s a good idea to hang out there. I know I’m right when I say it’s not because I tried it once and lost a whole bunch of days for no reason at all. Still, he had a good point about it so we agreed to put up a page under the Bad Hare banner. 

I wanted (and still want) as little as possible interaction with it for previously mentioned reasons, but Wayne… he likes it on there and was more than happy to manage it for me by diving into my blog posts and using them as content drivers - and for that Sir, I thank you even though I can smell my own hypocrisy seeping through my pores already.

So far, so good. Then a couple of weeks ago, we had a late night catch up and found ourselves talking about how good some of the music was in the late eighties and early nineties, specifically, what has become known as hair metal.

It wasn’t called hair metal back then. Back then, we were grand-masters at deciding whether a band was glam metal or sleaze metal and sometime, trash metal. Then along came the Electric Boys - or maybe it was Dan Reed - and we also had funk metal. It didn’t end there, it got sillier as time went on and lazy journalists found more ways of describing the nuances of each band until we - or at least, I - stopped listening to them try. It was always just rock n roll to me.

Eventually everybody stopped listening until the laziest journalist of all, upon being in the vicinity when The Daisy Cutter was fired out of Seattle, decided to throw all of these bands in the same bag and slap a sticker on it that said 'hair metal'.

It stuck.

I try not to use the term myself out of respect for the good times we had. All the same, it stuck around and every morning I get up, boil the water in the kettle, fire up a cigarette, let the dog out and press the button on the internet radio that lives in the kitchen and either tune into Hair Metal FM or The Raven, a station that plays hair metal without the visible stigma in the name. Most days, I flip in and out of both. 

Anyway, Wayne suggested we host a Hair Metal Friday over on the Facebook page... just for fun. Wishing I had thought of the idea, we agreed although in my head it’s humorously titled Hare Metal Friday but I don’t know if he did it that way or not because I don’t go there simply to rebalance the hypocrisy. 

This week, I chose Bang Tango because they were always one of the bands I expected to break out. They were real. They were crazy good musicians and there was something different about the way they wrote songs too. Back then, if you had pressed me hard, I would have sworn they could be the next Guns n Roses. Not that we needed a next Guns n Roses, but if we did, I would have put my money on Bang Tango or Rock City Angels. 

I would have been right too if it hadn’t been for that Daisy Cutter and the rest of those meddling kids. 

I flicked onto YouTube and found a good copy of Someone Like You - I even watched it twice to make sure it was as good as I remembered it to be and it was. I stand by that, but as I wandered off to the kitchen in search of coffee, the video finished and started auto-playing whatever was lined up next. Spinning on my heel, I came back to the laptop to find a much older version of Bang Tango playing some festival in such recent memory that even I can recall what happened that year and they sucked like a guppy cleaning up the bottom of an aquarium.

Joe LeSte used to be a pretty sexy motherfucker with a voice that could take all the paint off a Boeing (hey, we all get older) but at what point did the rest of the band feel unable to point out that his voice was shot so far out of the cannon, it got a standing ovation?

I clicked around in the sidebar of the menu and found some other bands on the bill who were sharing the same fate. Watching these bands I once loved trying to recreate something from over twenty years ago is painful (though I must hand out kudos to Phil Lewis of LA Guns who sounds as solid now as he did even ten years before hair metal when he was running with Girl and Torme). 

Headlining this festival of great bands gone bad were Ratt, who came up alongside of Motley Crue in the early/mid eighties. They were huge at one point. They were better musicians than Motley Crue, had better songs than Motley Crue but somehow the chemistry didn’t work so well. I can’t put my finger on how it all went wrong but the Crue are pretty much the same now as they ever were, better right now than they have ever been perhaps. Ratt - not so much. I didn’t even recognise most of the band and over 80% of them in the clip are the original members. While Stephen Pearcy (vocals) was busy trying to remember the words to his own songs, the band flit about like they were still twenty and toned but fifty and sweaty is not the same thing at all.

I’m not saying it’s a bad thing to keep going if you're genuinely doing what you love but sometimes, it’s a bad thing to keep going when you start to cheapen and diminish the thing you did originally when you haven’t got the chops anymore - particularly when some of those guys really can still cut it. Twisted Sister for one. Tom Keifer for another.

Worst of all, it's a huge punch in the mouth to the people that show up to see you and that's the biggest crime of all. That's not nostalgia. That's sleeping with the girl you lost your virginity to thirty years ago and thinking it might be the same while her kids sit in the car with a bottle of coke and a packet of crisps. It's a bitter pill to swallow and sometimes the pill gets stuck in your throat.

Still - at least we all still have our hair, right? 

Sion Smith