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Don’t Call It Hair Metal: Part 3, 90-93ish & the Canadians

By: Rich Catino

“Hair”, Glam Metal’s last stand before hard rock music changed as grunge, alternative, and later in the 90s/early2000’s the worst abomination, nu “Metal”, which was everything to be the anti-metal of Heavy Metal. I knew it when I started seeing the band pictures in Metal Edge and Metal Maniacs magazines, the fashion was the complete opposite of the denim, leather, spikes and chains, spandex and long hair. Everyone looked like they worked in a garage on cars, clowns in a circus (nu “metal”), and the hair as bad (either short, spiky, different colors), Hot Topic five minute shelf life fashion. But there were several good, and bad, not so glam more hard rock bands to just get an album or two, maybe three before MTV and radio, and the fans, turned their back for what was cool to like at the time. At least for the mainstream followers. Now I’m not saying the following are Metal Hall of Fame worthy, but they were good. Firehouse’ first two albums, Britny Fox (that third album “Bite Down Hard” especially), XYZ (damn that guitar tone), Trixter (the album “Hear” unfortunately few did) I saw them in the NJ clubs several times they were like the sons of Van Halen. Bulletboys first two albums, Hurricane, Sleeze Beez, Saigon Kick, Tora Tora, Spread Eagle, Mr. Big, Damn Yankees (the super group with Jack Blades, Tommy Shaw and Ted Nugent), Tyketto, Saraya, House of Lords. And a couple below are probably Metal Hall worthy. Thoughts?

Slaughter


Out of the ashes of the Vinnie Vincent Invasion came singer Mark Slaughter and bassist Dana Strum who formed the band. Strum alone should be inducted in the Metal Hall, his history with this music and the bands he was in in the LA scene go back to the beginning of the 80s, finding Randy Rhoads for Ozzy, a music producer, songwriter, playing with Vince Neil, and more. Slaughter as well an accomplished guitarist, solo artist, and singer, voice-over, songwriter, producer for many years. But Slaughter were one of the last and few to have a multi platinum debut, “Stick It Ta Ya”, hit singles ‘Up All Night’, ‘Fly to the Angels’, and ‘Spend My Life’, opening up for Kiss in arenas, and the gold followup “The Wild Life” in 1992. Three more albums followed, including the underrated overlooked “Fear No Evil” in 1995, with guitarist Tim Kelly unfortunately dying in a car crash in 1998. Slaughter has since carried on doing small tours and festivals with Jeff Blan on guitar and drummer Blas Elias (also in the Trans Siberian Orchestra) performing sometimes live.

Extreme

Another name who didn’t fit the “hair” metal stereotype because of fashion, although musically in the family with lots of Van Halen influence on the first album in 1989, more variety and funk but hard guitar crunch on the multi-platinum second album “Pornografitti”, and their Queen like opus “III Sides To Every Story” in 1992. Guitarist Nuno Bettencourt has graced the cover of Guitar magazine countless times, Gary Cherone the honor of singing for Van Halen a few years, and one of the few bands who can still put out a new album (2023’s “Six”), that is received well and those new songs are in the live setlist. And you ask, Extreme – metal? Well, like all these bands, it’s hard rock metal, hard rock with a metal edge. And if you doubt me, go see Extreme live. I saw them in 2024 within ten days of Mr. Big here in New Jersey. And guitar tone wise, heaviness, Extreme were still bringing those riffs. Mr. Big, equally talented, but hard rock. Different, but in the family. Oh, and yes, Extreme, like Mr. Big, both have always offered more than their hits ballad(s) ‘More Than Words’, and ‘To Be With You’. I know, a slight tangent, but relevant.

Winger

Yup, I said Winger. As musicians they all deserve it. Kip (Winger) played with Alice Cooper in the 80s, is also in recent years an accomplished composer of classical music. Reb Beach pre Winger did a lot of studio work (Twisted Sister’s “Love Is For Suckers”) and has played in Whitesnake since 2002. Drummer Rod Morgenstein a legend from the Dixie Dreggs, and Paul Taylor (guitars, keyboards) also did a lot of studio work and with Alice Cooper. Musically Winger offered more than many of their peers, more progressive moments, and dynamics in the music. You would know this if actually listened to more than just the hit single “Seventeen”, or excellent ballads ‘Headed for a Heartbreak’ and ‘Miles Away’. From the debut in 1988 heavy hitters ‘Madalaine’ and ‘Time To Surrender’, ‘Hungry’, and the other hit that should have been, ‘Hold On’. But the 1990 second album “In The Heart of the Young” pushed the music more into prog for jam ‘Loosen Up’, ‘You Are the Saint I Am the Sinner’ and ‘Rainbow in the Rose’ which are still played to this day live. And “Pull” in 1993, well that album is a whole nother level, mature music and lyrically. No more writing about girls, fun and rock n roll, serious and introspective topics. Heavy and dynamic too, see ‘Junkyard Dog’ betcha didn’t think they had it in them. Still releasing new music to this day with four more albums, the latest “Seven” in 2023. If you have, still do, base your opinion on this band from a couple songs on MTV, the opinions of two stupid cartoon characters, and Lars Ulrich throwing darts at a picture of Kip then you are ignorant, live in the past, never saw Winger live, and don’t deserve to have an “opinion”.

What about the Canadian’s contribution? Aldo Nova, Helix, Lee Aaron, Coney Hatch, April Wine? So where do these Canadians fit in?

Aldo Nova was very influential to this genre in 1982 with the debut album and hit ‘Fantasy’. He also released three more successful albums after. Songwriter and producer for others since the 90s, releasing new music in 2022/23. But, is his career too inconsistent? He hasn’t performed in 30 years until the most recent couple years with several shows. Lee Aaron, the self-proclaimed ‘Metal Queen’ in 1984 with that song, has released 15 albums, still making new music today and touring. Does she have a place in the Metal Hall?

How about April Wine? ‘Sign Of The Gypsy Queen’ was a big hit. “Harder Faster” in 1979, “The Nature of the Beast”, and “Power Play” from 1982 are regarded albums. Although the band have had various lineup changes and inconsistent activity over the years. Coney Hatch ‘Devils Deck’, damn what a great riff and hook. They only had three albums between 1982 – 85. Not enough a history? Or is the debut legendary enough to be inducted? Helix, …”give me an R, O, C, K, whatcha got? Rock, and whatcha gonna do? ‘Rock You’. That song alone maybe they deserve to be inducted? Fourteen albums since 1979, three of the members from the 80’s lineup, with singer Brian Vollmer lead the current formation of the band. Another name with a sporadic and inconsistent history.

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Disclaimer: These articles are meant to document and comment on important aspects of Heavy Metal’s broad and diverse history. The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the official Metal Hall of Fame. No mention of any artist should be misconstrued as an indication of intent to induct or deny admittance to the Metal Hall of Fame. We’re not dropping hints here, folks. There will be official press releases when new inductees are ready to be announced.

*Photo permission sought.

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