Warrant: The Whipping (Down) Boys of 80’s Hair Metal

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I was at a hockey game recently and on came “Pour Some Sugar On Me” from Def Leppard of course. Behind us were some 20, maybe 30-year-old young adults. To which they commented 80’s lyrics made no sense. I could not argue, however since when do lyrics have a requirement to make sense I thought? I can think of plenty Little Richard and U2 tunes that are most certainly double entendre and folks likely have no idea what the lyrics mean. I am most assuredly no artsy hipster doofus that feels the need to analyze lyrics in deep thought. It is called rock n’ roll for a reason! Now, next I hear (yes, I do enjoy eavesdropping, but then again they were using outside voices during fairly quiet times in the game) another of this youngling group blurt out something about the guy from Warrant wishes he was dead rather than having written “Cherry Pie”. While I also heard Jani say this many times, and could understand the context in which he felt this way, I still felt like turning around and informing said jackass that the poor guy, named Jani Lane, did, in fact, take his life and most surmise this was one of the many demons that led him to make that decision. Sadly. Now I generally have little to no compassion for those that destroy their own life with drugs and/or alcohol, however, that is another topic and I do understand it can be a disease for many. I have always felt that Jani’s lyrical content had so much more to it than the pie topic, and it did. Same goes for the music the band themselves wrote.

Warrant_-_DogB0000028N7On their first 2 albums it is fairly generic, and fun, hair metal of the day. Good rockers, strong melodies and more on the pop/rock side than metal, no argument there. Love those 2 records. A song like “In The Sticks” is amazing from D.R.F.S.R. as is “Ridin’ High”, yet very few would know much else other than “Heaven” and “Sometimes She Cries” from the release. Check ‘em out. “Song and Dance Man” from Cherry Pie, is an awesome musical working of sounds that is much deeper than the title track.

Now, about the early 90’s many of the genre had to show they could adapt. While I would never say Warrant tried to adapt, I rather think they had it in them the whole time, they were already adapting to fit the 80’s style and on Dog Eat Dog we hear the real thing. Songs such as “The Bitter Pill”, “Andy Warhol Was Right”, “Quicksand”, heck the entire release is hard and heavy, strong lyrical content and in your face. Sadly most everyone never gave it a shot after only hearing “Machine WarrantultraGun” which is a good straight ahead rocker but in no way mimics the depth of the remaining tracks. Give them ALL a shot.

Now 3 years later, in 1995 we get Ultraphobic. This is where they may be trying to hard, however, a song such as “Sum of One” gets my vote and is better than most anything else coming out around this time and shows the evolution of the band.

A year later we get Belly To Belly. Please listen to “Indian Giver” and “In The End”. I had the opportunity to finally see Warrant live at a tiny yet legendary club in Kitchener, ON called Lulu’s. The place boasted the longest bar in the world, being a former department store and I would believe that claim. Sadly no longer around. At this time, it wasn’t all the original band members, however, Jani was still in fine sounding form and Jerry on bass killed it. Eric was also playing like a man possessed. New members Rick and Bobby were super nice guys to talk to after the show and did the band justice musically.

Warrant 2In 1999 we are provided a Greatest & Latest, to which I give double thumbs up to “The Jones” and a great dance version of “Down Boys”, I make no apology for having a smiling ear for dance music.

Warrantgr8

I would now like to say my most favourite Warrant song is an unreleased one. “Thin Disguise”. I heard this around 1990 as a demo on a cassette from a trade (anyone remember those days?) and that is what started me to believe we had yet to hear the real Warrant. This song was included on their first compilation in 1996, The Best of Warrant.

At this point, we get to a frenetic time for the band, Jani quits and rejoins multiple times and it is obvious he is battling some serious demons. Most know of his demise in a hotel room. I did manage to see Warrant a few more times of various package tours but never again with Jani on vocals. I also have not enjoyed the vocals or lyrics from the band since Jani nearly as much, although I have nothing against them keeping on and would go see them again if the opportunity arose.

So I do have the opinion Warrant were and have become the whipping boys of the genre and are often cited as one of the bands that killed it. I disagree. We the fans killed it, and I also credit the record C.O.’s too for various reasons, but as fans, I never understand why we turn our backs on what we like(d) to enjoy a new sound, why not just add to your listening repertoire.

Give the songs I suggest a listen; you may no longer see the knock on Warrant as credible, regardless how you feel about matching white leather outfits.

My too sense? Or my 2 cents (and since I am Canadian that is currently about 1.70 cents US)?

  • Blair De Abreu

BUY: Warrant Music

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