One of my most anticipated gigs at Rock n’ Skull took place on Saturday when Pretty Boy Floyd entered the stage at The Tree in Joliet. The band name was taken from the 1960’s biographical film about the notorious outlaw Charles Arthur ”Pretty Boy” Floyd. Often referred to as one of the bands that took the glam image to the extreme and therefore contributed to the scene’s demise. These guys are childhood heroes of mine and this review may be a bit biased by that. Guys looking like girls were often arguments by those not into the genre or that image came before the music. Many critics describe that as the hair metal glam waves undoing Pretty Boy Floyd also count in being the inspiration and source for Ugly Kid Joe‘s band name. It is a paraphrase for Pretty Boy Floyd. These guys are nothing like that, they’ve got the songs and the musicianship to prove their worth to the overall scene. All the image did was sometimes blur that fact.
Pretty Boy Floyd got heavy rotation on MTV for their promo videos of ”I Wanna Be With You” and ”Rock n’ Roll (Is Gonna Set the Night On Fire)”. The debut album Leather Boyz with Electric Toyz was full of catchy hard rock anthems and the image was the best way to turn your parents off the band. Of course, that only fueled my interest in the band. The title track is an instant hit that is really hard to get out of your mind. The band was made up by Steve ”Sex” Summers on vocals, Kristy “Krash” Majors on guitar – both sole remaining members from the classic lineup today. The bass was handled by Vinny Chas (RIP) and behind the drums was Kari Kane.
After the release of the critically acclaimed debut album, the band found themselves in a name dispute with a Canadian band going by the same name. This band released an album called Lipstick and Bullets that same very year (1989). The bands eventually reached a settlement with the Canadian version, in the end, surrendering the name. Unfortunately, with the onsetting of changing times in the music business, there was never going to be a second album (or at least not then). The band broke up in 1991 leaving us with only one album which was way too premature.
Pretty Boy Floyd reformed in late 1995, although without Vinnie Chas. In 1998 they issued an EP called Tales of Sex, Designer Drugs and the Death of Rock n’ Roll. Finally, the second album emerged in 1999 called Pornstars but by that time the chance of any major commercial success was long gone. In the early 2000’s three compilations of unreleased demos surfaced called Vault, Vault II and Tonight Belongs to the Young. These albums are excellent examples of how good the songwriting was in the band but the sound quality varies a lot.
About ten years ago I finally caught the band live when they played a small club in Stockholm Sweden. Behind the drum kit was then Troy Patrick Farrell who had been drumming in White Lion as well. He is no longer with the band at this time. A short but great gig this was a really cool moment for me. I was also lucky enough to catch them a second time at the 2010 Stockholm Rock Out festival. Always a great live act, the anticipation was at a high when they entered the stage at Rock n’ Skull.
When Pretty Boy Floyd hit the stage they wear a lot of black make up (maybe as a dedication to Halloween?) – much more than usual. They blast straight into ”Leather Boyz with Electric Toyz” and it hits me in the face right away. I shout the ”who-aaaaah whooaaaaah” as loud as I can and the fist is immediately up in the air. They continue on with the Mötley Crue cover ”Toast of the Town” which is the only odd pick in the setlist and it’s not even one of the original band’s best songs. Pretty Boy Floyd have been around for 30 years and they still seem to be hungry and up for it. What really strikes me is how tight it sounds and by now Pretty Boy Floyd is a well-oiled machine that just runs on. Steve Summers‘ voice is in great condition and the band blast through a staple of old classics such as the slow rocker ”Wild Angels”, ”Your Mama Won’t Know” and ”48 Hours”. It is a real blast from the past and for a moment I feel like I was 20 all over again. You have to admire Steve and Kristy‘s passion for what they do and the flame still burns for the music. There is a lot of passion flowing from the stage.
The gig builds up towards a crescendo with the major hits ”Rock n’ Roll Outlaws” followed by the two major 80’s hits ”Rock n’ Roll (Is Gonna Set the Night On Fire)” and the power ballad ”I Wanna Be with You” which has all the guys reaching for a girl to hug. I have Rich ”The Meister” Dillon by my side so I refrain from doing so. Pretty Boy Floyd end the set with another Mötley Crue cover in ”Livewire” and it easy to see which band provides a whole lot of inspiration for the band.
When they finish I am left with the feeling ”was that all”? It is a short (too short) but intense gig. Not a whole lot of talking, no instrumental solos and just full focus on delivering a whole lot of quality songs. For that, they receive a big cheer although I want to have more that we don´t get. I think they could have ejected the two cover songs and brought in two or three original songs instead. All songs are taken from the debut album and there are so many great songs on the compilations to choose from. “Restless” or “Stray Bullet” would have been great songs to play (both off the Tonight Belongs to the Young compilation).
Pretty Boy Floyd put on an intense but short gig and deliver total quality in the execution. As with many other bands, there is a lack of recently recorded material so they stick to the classic cuts from the debut. The gig could have been a bit longer and the covers could have been cut out of the setlist but except for that, I head over to the bar with another smile on my face and great memories from another great gig. The band at times become a little bit passive and the stage antics could have been more expressive but that’s icing on the cake. There is very little variation in the setlist compared to the two previous times I have caught the band live which I had already said.
Still, this gig is up there among the best during the weekend and I would definitely go and see them again if I have the opportunity. Time to enter the studio and deliver a full album of new songs!