As I stated in my debut column, waving the hair metal flag in 2010 is not easy. So it begs the question, why still pray at the altar of Nikki Sixx and Kip Winger when their best years are clearly in the past? Is it nostalgia? No. If that was the case, I would have stopped buying the music in 1991 when the genre died a slow, painful, grungy death. For me, nothing is more frustrating then a band or album being dismissed as "laughable" or "out of touch" simply because their greatest success came in the 80's (or any decade for that matter). Later albums such as Def Leppard's "Slang" and Winger's "Pull" are perfectly crafted pop metal albums that nobody gave the time of day.
When they recall those bands, they only remember Joe Elliot's torn, acid wash jeans and Kip Winger's washboard abs on Lars Ulrich's dartboard. One prominent victim of this curse was New Jersey based, pop metal band, Trixter.
In the dying days of metal's glory years, Trixter's chick-friendly, self titled, 1990 release garnered a fair amount of success. My friend Jeremy Horning introduced them to me through a cassette single (remember those?) of their breakthrough hit "Give It To Me Good". To know the current Jeremy, this is pretty damn funny, but I may need to enter the witness relocation program after this article. I liked the single well enough to buy the album. MTV put "Surrender" and "One In A Million" into heavy rotation, and though successful, it also gave the impression Trixter attended Jon Bon Jovi's school of "How To Write Hit Singles". Fans saw through their "generic-ness" and lumped them in with the likes of Steelheart and Firehouse.
That's a shame because their follow up, "Hear" is a "Hair metal Classic".
How did the hair metal equivalent of N'Sync evolve from "Lay down your arms, and baby let's surrender" to an album, that if released in 1986, could have rivaled "Slippery When Wet" or "Hysteria" for Pop Metal supremacy ? It's easy...they grew up. In the seventies and eighties, labels still allowed artists time to grow and develop a sound. Even monster arena acts like Kiss took 3 studio albums and 1 live one to find an audience. Simply put, those days are gone...and that makes me angry. After 2 plus years on the road becoming better musicians and songwriters, this was a more mature Trixter and the proof is in the pudding.
Let's check this bad boy out:
Road Of A Thousand Dreams:
The closest song to a "Hit single" on the album. By that I mean it was the only thing released as a video before they got the hint that nobody was watching. I heard them perform this live when I saw them open up for Kiss on their "Revenge" tour. Since my friend was clearly not a fan, I had to sit on my hands and pretend to not enjoy what was actually a damn good show. I like this song but it's a bit too "cookie cutter" for me.
I must admit, I'm a sucker for singers that scream. Not just scream, but do it well. Singers like Roger Daltrey, Paul McCartney & Geoff Tate. Trixter singer, Peter Loran is highly underrated in this category and "Damn Good" is a one of a couple examples of this on the album. This is truly where the album kicks into gear and sheds it's "chick-friendly" image. Fantastic song.
Similar to the previous track. Another hard rocker with unbelievable vocals. Also where you really start to notice the impressive shredding abilities of guitarist Steve Brown.
Power of Love:
No, not the Huey Lewis song or God Forbid, Celine Dion. Guilty pleasure #2, I also love those songs where the music stops briefly and the singer comes in with just the vocals before the rest of the band kicks in. This song has that and is a pretty good pop song albeit with heavier guitars.
One of the standout tracks. This one has a real classic rock feel to it, like one of those "story songs" Billy Joel & Elton john were famous for. Fantastic lyrics and Some great acoustic guitar on this one.
Not quite sure what this song means but it rocks pretty hard. One of the many that showcases drummer Mark "Gus" Scott. Poor bastard never got the love that his "prettier" band mates got but as a musician, he didn't take a backseat to anyone.
As the Candle Burns:
Now this is a power ballad. What better imagery for a relationship than a burning candle. Clever title and what a melody. In my humble opinion, this ranks right up there with "Every Rose Has It's Thorn". Loran sings his butt off.
On The Road Again:
The last track on the album and my favorite. This is the best parts of every song in one great track. It's got the screaming, the melody, the fun "anthem" like lyrics and it even name checks MTV. I'm sure the conversation was like "Hey guys lets mention our good buddies over at MTV like Kurt Loder and Adam Curry. Someday when we're mega rich we'll all look back and have a good laugh. Kurt?....Adam?....Anybody got a key to this building?"
There's a couple other songs perhaps not as standout as the ones I listed, but truthfully they're all good and worth the listen.
Is It A Classic?
While not a widely recognized classic, when you look back at Hair Metal Masterpieces like "Dr. Feelgood" and "Metal Health", it's the songs that endure. In that sense, yes, "Hear" qualifies as a hair metal classic. If you missed it the first time around and enjoy pop metal in the style of Def Leppard and Bon Jovi, give this album a shot. I guarantee you won't be disappointed. I give it Four and 3/4 Road of a Thousand Dreams out of 5.
Until next time...
"With so many light years to go, and things to be found, will things ever be the same again?"
-Marc "The Casual One" Walentowicz