Hey, Rolling Stone! Get Off My Lawn!
So there I was minding my own business until someone sent me a link to read an article. Rolling Stone’s Top 50 Hair Metal Albums of All Time, interesting because as a teenager from 83-89 I was fully engaged in the world of hair metal and I pretty much recall the ever pompous Rolling Stone pretty much ignoring the entire genre if not openly mocking it.
First I must address the term “Hair Metal”, for me it really doesn’t make sense as a description or category because long hair pretty much the norm for ALL metal. Terms like “glam metal” made sense as it accurately described the clothing worn by some bands. “Pop” metal made sense as it accurately described a more radio friendly, more commercial sound. “Hair Metal” seemed to be used by the non-metal masses to describe any band that teased their long hair during the eighties and played loud, distorted guitars or used as a derogatory term from the more serious “thrash and grunge” world to downplay any talent the aqua-net bands brought to the table or lastly the lazy-ass press (Rolling Stone?) who more often than not likely took a fast look at the album cover and dismissed the makeup wearing, leather and studs as anything but “credible”.
In fact, I remember clearly back in the day bands taking offense to the term in interviews and not wanting to be described in that category. Funny how time changes our perspectives, no longer perceived as derogatory it’s now almost a badge of honour. Dee’s Of Hair Radio show, Hair Nation on Sirius, a one day sold out festival show last August called Hair Metal Fest that featured Extreme, Sebastian Bach and Dokken among others all proudly waving the hair metal moniker. What makes this music so special and so lasting is the legions of fans that keep this music alive, many of us ironically not sporting any hair, but I digress. There is a club here in Toronto that regularly books bands from this era. Faster Pussycat, Great White, LA Guns, Killer Dwarfs, Stryper. The crowds come out in support and a good time is had by all. Hair Metal for all intents and purposes is alive and well and, for the most part, we just nod approvingly at the term “hair metal” and the memories in conjures.
So I opened up the article and read the intro from the group of writers that all contributed to this “masterpiece” (sarcasm mode off) and as I read the side-bar, I raised my eyebrows and then I got pissed. I hadn’t even had the chance to investigate who made the list and the arrogance of the mighty Rolling Stone raised the ire of this cranky bastard. Who the hell are you Rolling Stone to “disqualify” Guns and Roses for transcending the genre (I can only assume you are still trying to kiss Axl’s ass for a potential interview when and if the big reunion takes place. Shhhh don’t rock the boat, Axl might not like it) and W.A.S.P. for sounding too legitimately heavy? Seriously?
Stop here for a moment. Guns and Roses “transcending the genre”, I suppose that is a compliment to them. My lord, we wouldn’t want to group them in the same genre as Def Leppard, Skid Row and Motley Crue. I absolutely love GnR. Appetite For Destruction was an incredible album that turned the world upside down but when they first emerged on the scene they were every bit part of the “hair metal” scene. They adorned the pages of Circus and Hit Parader yet to Rolling Stone they were too artistic to ever be clumped into this list. This is not a compliment to GNR but an insult to hair nation around the world.
Then we have W.A.S.P. disqualified for “sounding too legitimately heavy”? What does that even mean? Again, is this a compliment to W.A.S.P. that they are removed from this obvious illegitimate form of music? Kudos to W.A.S.P. for this Rolling Stone stamp of approval! (sarcasm mode off again!). Who the hell is Rolling Stone to be able to somehow quantify what is “legitimately heavy”? So happy to have Rolling Stone around to wave the hand of “what’s cool” otherwise I might lump W.A.S.P. in with my Motley Crue and Alice Cooper records.
To be honest, I almost didn’t bother to read the rest. Rolling Stone doesn’t get it, the sheep that actually buy the magazine certainly don’t get it, they actually think we don’t know that we are the butt of the joke here. “Wink, wink, nudge, nudge, look at the silly band wearing makeup.” Fact is: hair nation doesn’t give a rats ass what Rolling Stone thinks but curiosity got the better of me (just like my strange fascination with music awards shows) and I dove into the list.
I won’t bother to re-list all 50. From what I can tell, they most likely googled “hair metal albums” and scrolled through. In fact, I just went and tried that, 28 of the 50 popped up along the scroll bar. They did have a few pleasant surprises, Mr. Big, Tesla, and Badlands was nice to see. They had a few head scratchers in the list from bands that barely made a ripple on the scene. I understand that an album does not have to be commercially acceptable to be a good album but Precious Metal, Lord Tracy and even Pretty Boy Floyd making the top 50 of all time? That is either Rolling Stone making fun of hair nation or it’s their feeble attempt at looking credible.
They were sure to get their digs in on their favourite whipping boys, KISS. Placing Vinnie Vincent Invasion and Black and Blue ahead of them in the rankings. Also, Poison Look What The Cat Dragged In in the number 2 spot? Really? Although possibly biased, I see that Rolling Stone is completely unaware of the little country to the North that has contributed largely to the genre at hand. Killer Dwarfs, Kick Axe, Coney Hatch, Brighton Rock, Lee Aaron and Helix could have (should have?) made this list. Wait a moment, I just realized how Poison got the number 2 spot!!! They covered Dr. Hook’s “On The Cover Of The Rolling Stone”! Speaking of the cover, this is the same magazine that has recently had Beiber, Kardashian and Wiz Kalifa gracing the cover yet they can quantify what is “legitimate”?
Hey, Rolling Stone! Get off my lawn!