(14) BLUE MURDER, "VALLEY OF THE KINGS"
(14) PRETTY BOY FLOYD, "ROCK n' ROLL (is gonna set the night on fire)"
and will play in march shredness
Read the essays, watch the videos, listen to the songs, feel free to argue below in the comments or tweet at us, and consider. Winner is the aggregate of the poll below and the @marchshredness twitter poll. Polls closed @ 9am Arizona time on Feb 6, 2018.
Watching Pretty Boy Floyd, the band in the bracket who most committed to the femme look, makes me want to say something about the gender-bending nature of the hair metal genre. But I’m really not sure how interested Steve “Sex” Summers (on vocals) or Kristy “Krash” Majors are in it beyond the makeup and the provocation. This song doesn’t do much with it, at least, but then: that look is the thing that lasts.
Asked on Headbangers Ball about being categorized as glam, they said that “this kind of band never really cared what people said about us. It’s just four guys doing what we want to do…. We want to bring back the glamorous kind of outfit to show business.” Which, right, sure. They definitely make that happen, and their commitment to the femme look (especially Summers who really goes there) is probably what was most interesting about them. Provocation matters, and we’re nostalgic for the time when a little gender bending was all it took to really get people riled up. Their first album, subtly-titled Leather Boyz with Electric Toyz, was originally titled Cock Rock Shock Pop, and we wish they would have kept that brilliant title, which shows the fusion between the rock and the shock and the pop, even if they don’t quite figure out what to do with the cock in this equation just yet. If this sounds quite a lot like KISS, that’s no accident. Says Summers: “we want to bring back what KISS did for kids in the 1970s.” They never got that far.
You could feel even then in 1989 that the landscape was sliding out from under them. October of that year saw the release of Nine Inch Nails’ Pretty Hate Machine, which, alongside Nirvana et al, changed the entire landscape (and the record labels’ approach to it), just as PBF were trying to find their way through it. As Majors said in a recent interview, “labels would pop out bands one after another, trying to find the next big Motley Crüe, the next big Ratt, like a machine. Whatever sticks sticks, whatever doesn’t, and we’ll take our losses. It saturated the market.” Pretty Boy Floyd doesn’t disclaim this album or this song now, though it’s certainly not the thing that they feel they ought to be remembered for (and guess what: they're still rocking). Still, the song or the song combined with the look and the provocation is maybe memorable enough to earn them a spot in the tournament. I'd certainly like to read more about them and spend more time with the song.
In contrast to the femme stylings of Pretty Boy Floyd we find the experienced overbros of Blue Murder, who, in their vaguely Zeppelinish exploration of an imaginary Egypt, are probably aiming a little higher, lyrically anyway, and it does make me want to play a little D&D with them if I'm being honest. Any song that starts with “In a distant place in time a pharaoh wandered” is gonna make some narrative claims, and this one does: “Stone on stone they built till the day their life is over / They control with the whips and chains / They bequeath us with a life of pain.”
Blue Murder is ex-Whitesnake guitarist and vocalist John Sykes, bassist Tony Franklin (The Firm) who's unafraid to goof, and drummer Carmine Appice, possibly too committed to his 70s mustache for the era (though 28 years later it's aged well, and he keeps it as his signature look in recent photos). Each of these guys has quite a presence, and they know it. In part that's because by 1989 they’d done this quite a bit. Collectively, they’d played with Whitesnake, The Firm, David Gilmour & Kate Bush, Jmmy Page, Roy Harper, Cactus, King Kobra, Paul Stanley, Pink Floyd, Rod Stewart, Thin Lizzy, Ted Nugent, and Vanilla Fudge, to name a few (and you can feel the 70s seeping through much of this song, which one imagines may have been why they never really took off for 1989 listeners). So they knew how to stake their claim to stage grandeur, and it's hard for me to see past that.
In my view, the song and video both overplay their hand somewhat, but they’re hard to ignore together as a spectacle. The baggy pants in particular have not aged well, but that’s the case for most of the late 80s and early 90s, so no fault there. And watching this, I’m reminded of how few of these videos feature sexy girls (or girls at all), in contrast to my memory of them at the time (in which hair metal = hot girls, which was of course the fantasy). This video, like many, ends up being more committed to its guys (hot and dying) than to its girl (sexy Cleopatra), who we only see in flashes. I dunno: the more I watch the video the more I start to like these guys and their ambitions even if this was the kind of masculinity I would have preferred to set on fire in the night at the time.
A member of the Official March Shredness selection committee, Ander Monson's first concert of note was Warrant opening for Poison, and there was no going back from there to shallow waters. One of his first five CDs was Fifth Angel's Time Will Tell which surely has no relation to why they are in the tournament.