Now Hear This: VAMP

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     So there I am at a Walmart in Austin, Texas, perhaps it was 2003, and I come upon a bin brimming with cassette tapes for a dollar a piece. I don’t need an engraved invitation. I toss aside the Runaway Bride soundtracks and Bushwick Bill opuses and happen upon something that looks interesting, at least to me, not to most people, but to me. Four guys with long, teased blonde hair. It’s a band called VAMP. The album is called The Rich Don’t Rock.  I like everything about this. I’ve never heard of VAMP, I’ve never seen this album.  How have I never seen this album? It came out in 1989 on Atlantic Records. In 1989 I bought every album that came out that looked like this, except this one. This album and I had somehow never crossed paths.  Time and patience had rectified this. I bought the cassette, took it to work the next day and popped it in my walkman. I was not disappointed.

     VAMP formed in Germany in 1985, but singer Tom Bellini was from the US. Originally calling themselves ROXX (not to be confused with Roxx Gang, Roxx Regime, White Roxx, Sgt. Roxx, Crystal Roxx, Moxy Roxx), they recorded a four song demo which led to the record deal with Atlantic. The Rich Don’t Rock was the only album they released. It was produced by Tony Platt, who produced Another Perfect Day for Motorhead and a personal favorite of mine, Love + War by Lillian Axe. A quick look at the cover would indicate to most casual observers that this album is what upper crusty music fans refer to derisively as hair metal.  Me, I love most “hair metal,” but that is not really what this album is. This is simply metal. I love the first W.A.S.P. album, I do not like the second W.A.S.P. album. The Rich Don’t Rock by VAMP is the album I wish W.A.S.P. would have released as the follow-up to their kick-ass debut.

     The first song on The Rich Don’t Rock is called Heartbreak, Heartache. It’s great, and a good indication of what is to come. This album will only get better. The next song, Like I Want, is the catchiest song on the album and should have received a lot of airplay on Headbanger’s Ball in 1989. I watched every episode of Headbanger’s Ball in 1989 and I don’t remember seeing VAMP. The album is off to a great start but the next three songs are the worst songs on the record. At this point I quite possibly could have removed this cassette from my walkman and moved on to something else but luckily I kept listening, because there are seven more songs and they are all great.

     The last song on side one is called All Nite , a fast-paced rocker with a great chorus. I could do without the 90 second drum solo, but it’s a great song. Side two is when this album really gets good. Lonely Nights, Stand By Me, Bleeding, Talk Is Cheap, Shout, Whyevery song on side two is awesome.  Bleeding is my favorite. If you track down The Rich Don’t Rock on vinyl like I did you will find that “Shout” and “Why” are bonus tracks only included on the cassette and CD. Last year the album was reissued by Divebomb Records as a double CD with demos and 8 additional tracks that were recorded for an unreleased follow up album to have been called, apparently, One Smack Killer.  

Drummer Dicki Fliszar jumped ship to play on Bruce Dickinson’s Tattooed Millionaire tour and then joined the British band SKIN, whose debut album would hit the top ten in the UK.

You can order the reissue of The Rich Don’t Rock here:

Or you can sample the entire album and download it from here:

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