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Jani Lane (1964-2011)

Sadly, late last night Jani Lane, former Warrant lead vocalist & main songwriter, was found dead in a hotel room in Woodland Hills, California. As of this writing, the cause of death had not been determined but a bottle of vodka and prescription pills were found in his room and it’s been said the authorities are treating his death as an accidental overdose. It’s no secret that Jani has been battling his addictions for many years. On more than one occasion it even seemed like he had won the fight only to relapse some time later.

Born John Kennedy Oswald in Akron, Ohio on February 1, 1964, Jani was exposed to music at an early age by his brother Eric who played guitar. At age 4 Jani was an amateur drummer and by the age of 11 he was playing in clubs as “Mitch Dynomite” and drumming for various bands. He continued to do this all throughout high school but soon decided he would rather be a singer and songwriter instead of a drummer. After graduating high school, Jane played in a few bands in Ohio (still drumming) before relocating to Florida in 1983 where after another stint as a drummer he formed the band Plain Jane with future Warrant drummer Steven Sweet.

Lane & Sweet later moved to Los Angeles still using the Plain Jane name and playing the local club circuit until running across Warrant guitarist Erik Turner in 1986 when they were then invited to join the band.

Rightfully or wrongfully, Jani Lane was known as and will always be remembered as “the ‘Cherry Pie’ guy”. At one time, that was a distinction that Jani loathed. He detested the song and hated himself for ever having written it because he knew that he and Warrant had so much more to offer the world than just one song written literally in a matter of minutes at the behest of some music execs. Warrant was not a one-hit wonder. Though “Sometimes She Cries” and “I Saw Red” were radio hits, the band had massive success with the power ballad “Heaven” in 1989 (which actually charted higher than “Cherry Pie” ever did) but it was in 1990 that “Cherry Pie” hit the airwaves and MTV and went on to become one of the essential and best loved songs of its genre and era. Loaded with innuendo, the song and the accompanying music video (featuring Bobbi Brown, model & future wife of Jani’s) helped push Warrant into a bigger spotlight.

With the rise of grunge and the stagnation of the pop-metal scene, Warrant found themselves “only” selling roughly 500,000 copies of 1992’s Dog Eat Dog (compared the double platinum sales of both 1988’s Dirty Rotten Stinking Filthy Rich and 1990’s Cherry Pie album). That’s a feat that I think is pretty impressive considering the musical climate at the time. Funny how in ’92 going gold was considered a disappointment whereas today that’s a success story. Dog Eat Dog was the band’s final major label release and Jani would leave the group in March 1993.

For more than a year the band sat in limbo until Jani returned in the fall of 1994. Faced with a shrinking fan base, a changing culture, music snobs and a lack of interest from the major labels, the band spent the mid ’90s in confusion. They managed to release two studio albums during this time — Ultraphobic (1995) and Belly to Belly (1996) on the independent CMC International label (which for a few years was a safe-haven for ’80s rockers). Both have been unfairly overlooked and while they feature a band perhaps trying too hard to fit in with the times, I still think they are solid efforts and serve as a testament to Jani’s songwriting abilities.

In the late ’90s/early 2000s, hair bands became a nostalgic treat for many people and many summer package tours were being put together and music magazines such as Metal Edge and music channel VH1 were paying slightly more attention to ’80s rockers. Warrant was one of the main bands to reap the towards of this mini-comeback and though they did not release a studio album of new original material during this time (a missed opportunity, in my opinion) they released the live album Warrant Live 86-97 in 1997, Greatest & Latest in 1999 (re-recordings of their biggest hits with a few unreleased tracks) and an album of covers called Under the Influence in 2001. It was also during this time that Jani Lane was working on a solo project called Jabberwocky which has not yet seen the light of day (and now may never) although he did release an unrelated solo album called Back Down to One in 2003.

Sadly, Under the Influence would be the last album Jani recorded as a member of Warrant. Personal and business matters would force Jani to leave the group for a second time in 2004. After a four-year run with Black N’ Blue vocalist Jaime St. James (where they released Born Again in 2006), Lane returned to the group in January 2008 but by September of that same year he left yet again with both sides agreeing they were better off without each other. Unlike the split in 2004, this final exit seemed to be a bit more amicable. Robert Mason (Big Cock vocalist/ex-Lynch Mob vocalist) would go on to join Warrant, touring with the band and recording the excellent Rockaholic which was released earlier this year.

Outside of Warrant, in the last decade Jani kept busy writing songs for himself & other artists, touring solo, appearing on various tribute albums and even was on a season of VH1’s Celebrity Fit Club. In 2008, a side-project called Saints of the Underground (featuring Lane, Bobby Blotzer, Robbie Crane & Kerri Kelli) released the album Love the Sin, Hate the Sinner which also went unnoticed but was a great mix of ’80s hard rock with a modern feel.

In the summer of 2010, Jani began filling in as vocalist for Great White at live shows while lead singer Jack Russell recovered from surgery. It was during this time that Great White played a show with Warrant and by all accounts everyone was cordial and got along even if the situation was a bit awkward.

There will be much speculation until an official autopsy is released but there is no question that Jani was a very talented man who was held back by his addictions and the fact that he could never completely sober up. After all these years of abuse, it’s really amazing that his voice still held up. Even as late as last year, he was still pulling it off live (though years ago there were times that he would take the stage drunk and stumble and slur his way through shows) and was he personable and entertaining. Just imagine what he could have accomplished without all of the vices.

I’ve always said Jani was the best songwriter from the pop-metal field. Amazing lyricist. His ballads are second-to-none. He could obviously write the fun, brain-dead, sex-fueled song when he wanted to (or was told to) but “Sometimes She Cries”, “I Saw Red”, “Blind Faith”, “Let It Rain” and “Stronger Now” are all fantastic and some of my favorite ballads from ANY band. Those songs show a much deeper, thoughtful side.

Jani was much more than “the ‘Cherry Pie’ guy” to me. I know there are plenty of people who don’t like Warrant. For whatever reason, they seem to be one of the least respected of the major glam-metal bands but just because Jani’s dead I’m not going to sit here and now say that they were a Top 5 of All Time band for me. They weren’t. But I’ve always liked Warrant a lot. They were one of the first glam bands I became a fan of and I have often found hope, inspiration and entertainment in Jani’s lyrics.

Like most of the millions of mourning today, I did not know Jani personally but other than his addictions and the actions caused by them (such as drunk driving), I can’t recall ever really hearing or reading anything negative about him. Sure, egos explode and bands implode but from every interview I’ve read or live clip I’ve seen of the guy, he always came across as a really likable, charming, fun-loving guy who enjoyed performing. It’s heartbreaking to think that his final night on earth was spent with pills and alcohol alone in a hotel room. Obviously, for that situation to occur, there is a bigger, darker story at play but I’ll leave that to his family and close friends to ponder and investigate as it is none of my business. As for myself, I can only say that we lost a great musician much too soon and much too needlessly.

WARRANT – Dog Eat Dog

Warrant – Dog Eat Dog (1992, Columbia Records)

1. “Machine Gun” … 3:45
2. “The Hole in My Wall” … 3:30
3. “April 2031” … 5:05
4. “Andy Warhol Was Right” … 3:37
5. “Bonfire” … 4:21
6. “The Bitter Pill” … 4:07
7. “Hollywood (So Far, So Good)” … 3:47
8. “All My Bridges Are Burning” … 3:37
9. “Quicksand” … 3:58
10. “Let It Rain” … 4:16
11. “Inside Out” … 3:40
12. “Sad Theresa” … 3:25

Band:
Jani Lane – Lead Vocals, Acoustic Guitar
Joey Allen – Guitar
Erik Turner – Guitar
Jerry Dixon – Bass
Steven Sweet – Drums, Backing Vocals

Additional Musicians:
Scott Humphrey – Keyboards
Ron Feldman & Scott Warren – Piano
Dee Dee Bellson & Yvonne Williams – Backing Vocals (“Let It Rain”)

Producer: Michael Wagener

And this is where Warrant started to get a bit heavier as the ’90s rolled on. Janie & Co. must have seen the writing on the wall by this point with the rise of grunge and tried to develop a tougher sound and image while still not straying too far from the pop-metal that made them so successful. Must’ve worked because while radio didn’t support this album it still managed to go gold. Funny thing, while bands these days would kill to go gold, back then for a multi-platinum act, having a gold album was considered a disappointment, at least as far as the labels were concerned. Sure enough, Warrant found themselves dropped from Columbia after having “only” sold in excess of 500,000 copies of Dog Eat Dog. To me, that’s pretty impressive for a Warrant album in 1992 when Alice In Chains, Pearl Jam, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Soundgarden and Nirvana were dominating the charts.

Anyway, Dog Eat Dog serves every sale it got because it’s a really strong album. I still prefer the pop-metal of Cherry Pie but the band does a fine job of delivering a similar slice of hair rock with “The Bitter Pill”, “Quicksand”, “Let It Rain”, “All My Bridges Are Burning” while going more metal than they ever had before with “Machine Gun”, “Inside Out”, “Hole In My Wall” and “April 2031”. Meanwhile, I can’t help but think “Hollywood (So Far, So Good)” sounds like a re-working of Jane’s Addiction’s “Jane Says”. Perhaps it should be have called “Jani Says”?

I have to point out the album’s best track — the ballad “Let It Rain”. Before I discovered this album, I discovered this song. I was searching online years ago and found a site that listed every Warrant ballad and thought this song was amazing when I first heard it. Still do. Had this been on Cherry Pie and had it been released as a single, it could’ve been huge. One of the genre’s best ballads but then again that’s almost a formality when it comes to ballads written by Jani!

The photos of the band around this time are pretty funny. All the white spandex and glitter, neon colors and ruffles and what have you are gone. It’s all been replaced by black leather. Jane Lane actually looks A LOT like Dee Snider with the black leather pants, black leather vest, shades and his bleach blond hair pulled back tight in a ponytail. And Joey Allen and Erik Turner look to be doing their best KK Downing and Glenn Tipton impersonations with the leather studded jackets.

The band would stumble for direction over the next decade and then find some redemption with 2006’s Born Again but Dog Eat Dog remains Warrant’s last great album.

Highlights: “Machine Gun”, “The Hole In My Wall”, “Andy Warhol Was Right”, “The Bitter Pill”, “All My Bridges Burning”, “Quicksand”, “Let It Rain”

http://www.warrantweb.net
http://www.myspace.com/warrantband

WARRANT – Belly To Belly: Volume One

Warrant – Belly To Belly: Volume One (1996, CMC International)

1. “In the End (There’s Nothing)” … 3:12
2. “Feels Good” … 2:51
3. “Letter to a Friend” … 4:33
4. “AYM” … 2:50
5. “Indian Giver” … 4:54
6. “Falling Down” … 3:56
7. “Interlude # 1” … 0:11
8. “Solid” … 3:13
9. “All 4 U” … 3:40
10. “Coffee House” … 4:37
11. “Interlude # 2” … 0:18
12. “Vertigo” … 2:36
13. “Room With a View” … 2;59
14. “Nobody Else” … 4:13

Band:
Jani Lane – Vocals
Rick Steier-  Guitar
Erik Turner – Guitar
Jerry Dixon – Bass
Bobby Borg – Drums

Producer: Jerry Dixon, Erik Turner, Jani Lane, Rick Steier and Stefan Neary

This was a weird phase for the band when they tried to blend into the alternative rock scene. I’m not sure how serious of an effort this was but it looks like they even went for a name change wanting to be known as “Warrant 96” because that’s how they are referred to on this album and in the liner notes and I’ve seen sources online list this album that way. With the image makeover and style of music on this disc, they should’ve gone and changed their name completely because being known as Warrant wasn’t doing them any favors at this point.

Anyway, Belly To Belly: Volume One (They were planning more of these?) continues the evolution to a alternative sound that the group started with a few songs from 1992’s Dog Eat Dog and fully realized with most of 1995’s Ultraphobic.

Once you get past that this is Warrant, a quintessential hair band playing alternative rock, this is actually a pretty good album. Despite the change in sound and mood, Jani still hadn’t lost his knack for writing great lyrics. He’s one of the best song writers to come out of the pop-metal scene. From what I’ve read, he was going through a divorce at the time of this album and that makes sense when you pay attention to the lyrics, which are probably some of the best he’s ever written. Also, the lyrics were influenced by the band’s rise and fall in the music industry and the changing of the times. It’s easy to feel a connection to these lyrics and understand the pain he must have been going through.

This isn’t really a heavy album but it certainly isn’t “lite metal” of the glam persuasion. On their last two efforts, the band seemed to be getting heavy on a number of songs just for the sake of not coming across as a fluff act but they’ve mellowed a bit on these songs in order to fit the somber, introspective mood.

This is not an album that has any room for pop-metal anthems and Bic-waving ballads but Belly To Belly still turns out more than a handful of quality tunes with some real meaning behind them. Maybe it’s not what people wanted to hear (Warrant fans wanted another Cherry Pie, non-Warrant fans just wanted them to go away), but the album is a success in my book.

Highlights: “In The End (There’s Nothing)”, “Letter To A Friend”, “Indian Giver”, “Falling Down”, “Solid”, “All 4 U”, “Room With A View”

http://www.warrantweb.net
http://www.myspace.com/warrantband

WARRANT – Born Again

Warrant – Born Again (2006, Cleopatra Records/Deadline Records)

1. “Devil’s Juice” … 3:28
2. “Dirty Jack” … 4:02
3. “Bourbon County Line” … 3:52
4. “Hell, CA” … 4:20
5. “Angels” … 4:33
6. “Love Strikes Like Lightning” … 3:56
7. “Glimmer” … 3:31
8. “Roller Coaster” … 2:48
9. “Down In Diamonds” … 4:00
10. “Velvet Noose” … 3:01
11. “Roxy” … 3:16
12. “Good Times” … 4:10

Band:
Jaime St. James – Lead Vocals
Joey Allen – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Erik Turner – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Jerry Dixon – Bass, Backing Vocals
Steven Sweet – Drums, Backing Vocals

Additional Musicians:
Pat Regan – Keyboards

Produced by: Pat Regan

Ah, Warrant. They just can’t keep it together, can they? Musically, throughout their entire career, they’ve done fine, but as far as keeping the “classic” lineup going (the lineup that gave us the classic hair metal albums Dirty Rotten Stinking Filthy Rich and Cherry Pie), it’s been quite a struggle.

In 2006, the “classic” reunion almost happened. The version of Warrant that enjoyed the most commercial success just missed getting back together. In January of that year, singer Jani Lane left the band and the following month “classic” members Joey Allen and Steven Sweet rejoined. Coincidence? Or conspiracy? I seem to remember some rumors swirling around that the one thing that kept Joey and Steven from ever rejoining the band was the fact that Jani was still in it. So he was out, and in very short order, they were both back in.

Enter former Black ‘n Blue vocalist Jaime St. James and a new album was fast tracked. It was great news to me to know a new Warrant album was coming because with Jani at the helm, despite the fact that he was/is a great songwriter, Warrant seemed content to merely be a nostalgia act and to do hair band package tours in the Summer. They never went fully in on the early 2000s hair metal resurgence and it never made sense to me when they didn’t join in and do a reunion/new album like many of their peers had done. I’m sure Jani’s alcohol problems go a long way in explaining just why it didn’t happen though.

To the music at hand, despite my anticipation for a Warrant album, I wasn’t sure if Born Again was going to be any good at all. As I said above, Jani’s a great writer and he was the lead creative force in the band, but founding members Jerry Dixon and Erik Turner (and St. James to an extent) really stepped up and delivered one of the 2006’s most surprising and pleasant rock albums.

It’s not really retro, the band doesn’t attempt to capture past glories, but it still has a cool old school hard rock feel. The album doesn’t sound outdated, but it doesn’t sound like a lame attempt to sound modern either. It’s a little more dirty, raw and bluesy than anything Warrant has done before. Sounds like a bit of St. James’ Black ‘n Blue influence has worn off on the band.

A good effort from a band that I was ready to write off. There’s definite promise in them post-Lane and that fact would become ever more important after Lane rejoined the group and lasted all of nine months in 2008 when he was ousted again due to alcohol abuse.

I hope Jani really pulls it together, his non-Warrant projects are solid, so I know he’ll at least musically be fine without Warrant but I’m also looking forward to seeing what Dixon & Turner wild do next with ex-Lynch Mob/current Big Cock vocalist Robert Mason up front (Jaime St. James has since reunited Black ‘n Blue).

Highlights: “Devil’s Juice”, “Dirty Jack”, “Bourbon County Line”, “Hell, CA”, “Angels”, “Love Strikes Like Lightning”, “Roxy”

www.warrantweb.net
www.myspace.com/warrantband

WARRANT – Dirty Rotten Stinking Filthy Rich

Warrant – Dirty Rotten Stinking Filthy Rich [Expanded Edition] (2004, Sony Music/Legacy Recordings)
Original Release: 1989, Columbia Records

1. “32 Pennies” … 3:10
2. “Down Boys” … 4:05
3. “Big Talk” … 3:44
4. “Sometimes She Cries” … 4:45
5. “So Damn Pretty (Should Be Against the Law)” … 3:33
6. “D.R.F.S.R.” … 3:19
7. “In the Sticks” … 4:06
8. “Heaven” … 3:57
9. “Ridin’ High” … 3:07
10. “Cold Sweat” … 3:33
BONUS TRACKS
11. “Only a Man” (demo) … 4:22
12. “All Night Long” (demo) … 2:42

Band:
Jani Lane – Lead Vocals, Guitar
Joey Allen – Guitar
Erik Turner – Guitar
Jerry Dixon – Bass
Steven Sweet – Drums

Additional musicians
Beau Hill – Keyboard, Backing Vocals
Bekka Bramlett – Backing Vocals

Produced by: Beau Hill

Pretty impressive debut from Warrant and I had forgotten how strong Jani’s voice was in the early Warrant days. It’s weird though, I was thinking this album came out earlier than ’89 (but to be fair it WAS January 1989).  The album went double platinum thanks to the #2 charting single “Heaven”. Definitely one of the greatest power ballads ever.

Most of the album is really strong, though a few songs are your basic filler: pleasant, but nothing that sticks with you. All of what I consider to be the album’s highlights I had already been familiar with for years, thanks to owning The Best of Warrant.

There’s some chaos swirling around the recording of this album. Number One is that all the music was recorded yet the album’s release date was delayed because Jani couldn’t put the vocals down because had a nervous breakdown after catching his girl in bed with one of his friends. Number Two, the rumor is neither Joey Allen nor Erik Turner played on the album and that it was ex-Streets guitarist Mike Slamer who put the work in.

The album was re-released in 2004 on Sony Music’s Legacy Recordings label (which simultaneously re-released Cherry Pie) featuring two bonus tracks.

Highlights: “32 Pennies”, “Down Boys”, “Big Talk”, “Sometimes She Cries”, “D.R.F.S.R.”, “Heaven”

http://www.warrantweb.net
http://www.myspace.com/warrantband

MONSTER BALLADS XMAS

Various Artists – Monster Ballads Xmas (2007, Razor & Tie Direct)

Track Listing:
1. “Jingle Bells” – Skid Row … 3:02
2. “Happy Christmas (War Is Over)” – Winger … 4:06
3. “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” – Jani Lane … 3:35
4. “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” – Twisted Sister (w/ Lita Ford) … 4:09
5. “White Christmas” – Queensryche … 2:28
6. “Run Rudolph Run” – L.A. Guns … 3:10
7. “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” – FireHouse … 3:07
8. “Naughty Naughty Christmas” – Danger Danger … 4:56
9. “Blue Christmas” – Tom Keifer … 4:15
10. “Jingle Bell Rock” – Nelson … 2:52
11. “Silent Night” – Faster Pussycat … 4:13
12. “Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town” – Dokken … 4:01
13. “Happy Holidays” – Enuff Z’Nuff … 4:23
14. “Winter Wonderland” – Stryper … 3:34
15. “Christmas Love” – Billy Idol … 3:57

Produced by: Michael Anderson & Beka Callaway

Another album in the long-running Monster series from Razor & Tie, this time with a Christmas theme, although calling it “Monster Ballads Xmas” doesn’t make much since because most of these songs are not ballads. Why not just “Monster Xmas“? Or get really old school with “Monsters of Rock Xmas“?

Anyway, I picked the year of it’s release at Target, of all places. It’s a decent release, though it pales in comparison to 2008’s excellent We Wish You a Metal Xmas and a Headbanging New Year from Armoury Records.

I don’t have to tell you that Faster Pussycat, as always with compilations and cover albums, sticks out like a sore thumb here with their more recent and improved industrial sound. Just an awful rendition of “Silent Night”. What is it with “Silent Night” getting so screwed up on these metal Xmas compilations? Queensryche does a pretty bad version of “White Christmas” as well. Geoff Tate’s voice sounds horrible here. Like someone trying to sound like Edguy’s Tobias Sammett but totally failing.

Dokken’s version of “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town” is actually pretty funny to me because of the fact that it sounds EXACTLY like a Dokken song. They totally made it their own and you’d swear Don wrote the song himself.

Twisted Sister’s Jay Jay French, certainly inspired by the Christmas spirit after the success of A Twisted Christmas, executive produced.

Highlights: “Happy Christmas (War is Over)”, “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas”, “I’ll Be Home for Christmas”, “Naught Naughty Christmas”, “Blue Christmas”, “Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town”, “Happy Holiday”

WARRANT – The Best of Warrant

Warrant – The Best of Warrant (1996, Sony Music/Legacy Recordings)

Track Listing:
1. “Down Boys” … 4:06
2. “32 Pennies” … 3:10
3. “Heaven” … 3:57
4. “D.R.F.S.R.” … 3:18
5. “Big Talk” … 3:44
6. “Sometimes She Cries” … 4:44
7. “Cherry Pie” … 3:22
8. “Thin Disguise” … 3:14
9. “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” … 4:03
10. “I Saw Red” [Acoustic Version] … 3:46
11. “Bed Of Roses” … 3:14
12. “Mr. Rainmaker” … 3:30
13. “Sure Feels Good To Me” … 2:41
14. “Hole In My Wall” … 3:37
15. “Machine Gun” … 3:45
16. “We Will Rock You” … 2:56

For many bands, I always made my point of entry to be “greatest hits” or “best of” compilations just to go with the more familiar songs and decide if their catalog would be worth diving into. So, this best of comp was my very first Warrant album.

The Best of Warrant is only a retrospective of their first three albums (all from Columbia Records). By the time of this album’s release, they had already been dropped from Columbia and found their way onto the CMC International label. They had already released an album there by the time Sony decided to cash-in with this compilation in the middle of the alternative rock scene. Why did so many hair band “greatest hits” get released during a time when no one wanted to have *anything* to do with those bands?

It’s a pretty great compilation and for casual fans, it’s all they would need. There’s definitely some songs I feel should be counted amongst their “best” though (“Love in Stereo”, the album version of “I Saw Red”, “April 2031”, “Let it Rain”). The album is especially light on the band’s third and least successful Columbia album, Dog Eat Dog.

The band’s cover of Queen’s “We Will Rock You” is taken from 1992’s Gladiator soundtrack and “Thin Disguise” and the acoustic version of “I Saw Red” were both B-sides to singles. The acoustic “I Saw Red” pales in comparison to the electric version that was on Cherry Pie.

www.warrantweb.net
www.myspace.com/warrantband

Oh Jani, you’re all alone…

Hold on, hold on...

Hold on, hold on...

A message from Warrant guitarist Erik Turner, as sent to and reported by SleazeRoxx.com:

“It is with the deepest regret that we have to announce that Jani Lane will no longer be performing with Warrant. From the beginning of our reunion talks to the last note of our last show together in Houston this past weekend we have had nothing but good intentions of bringing a quality original Warrant show to our fans and friends. We wish Jani nothing but the best and remain friends.

We are very excited that we have found an unbelievable voice in Robert Mason (LYNCH MOB), an old friend of the band. We have three dates confirmed, come out and judge for yourself…we don’t think you will be disappointed!”

Well, I can only assume this has to do with Jani’s forever ongoing battle with the bottle and his (drunken) performances at the reunion shows. I really had high hopes for a reunited Warrant. The St. James lineup did fine with Born Again, but Warrant without Jani just isn’t Warrant, IMO, and I think they could’ve delivered a kick@$$ album.

At least they have another singer lined up (Was Jamie St. James busy?) and I hope this means they are still on track for a new album. At this point though, I think it may be time to put the Warrant name to rest and for them to soldier on as a new band and not be tied to the nostalgia/hair metal label (which I think only works if Jani is singing).

SAINTS OF THE UNDERGROUND – Love the Sin, Hate the Sinner

Saints of the Underground – Love the Sin, Hate the Sinner (2008, Warrior Records)

Track Listing:
1. “Dead Man Shoes” [2:44]
2. “Tomorrow Never Comes” [3:16]
3. “All in How You Wear It” [4:25]
4. “Good Times” [3:58]
5. “Exit” [2:44]
6. “American Girl” [3:46]
7. “Signs of Life” [2:59]
8. “Bruised” [3:37]
9. “Moonlight Mile” [5:14]
10. “Jimmy” [3:53]

Band:
Jani Lane – Vocals
Keri Kelli – Guitar
Robbie Crane – Bass
Bobby Blotzer – Drums

This album was totally under the radar for me, I wasn’t even aware of this release until about two weeks before the release. And I usually try to keep up on the scene! Ah well, I picked it up as quick as I could and it’s proven to be a surprisingly solid release.

For those of you that aren’t aware, Saints of the Underground is a “supergroup” (C’mon, in 2008? Let’s be honest with ourselves…) that features Jani Lane (Warrant), Kerri Kelli (Alice Cooper), Bobby Blotzer (Ratt) and Robbie Crane (Ratt).

As I said, the album is really solid with a nice mix of modern hard rock, hair metal, and a bit of pop punk. I’m reminded of Lit on some songs. If anything, Love the Sin, Hate the Sinner seems like it could be a window into what a modern Jani Lane-fronted Warrant album would sound like with “Dead Man Shoes” and “Signs of Life” particulary striking me as very “Warrant-like”. “Tomorrow Never Comes” is my favorite track of the bunch and I don’t think it would seem out of place on rock radio today. Not that you’d ever actually hear it there, mind you.

The only song I really don’t care for is “Moonlight Mile”, which is a Rolling Stones cover. I’m not familiar with the original, but I’m just not digging this track. Jani’s voice seems to struggle on this one.

I’m definitely glad I picked this album up, I don’t know what the future holds for this band with Ratt & Warrant gearing up for their own tours and then recording new albums, but once Warrant and Ratt get some downtime again, I’d love for them to put some more SOTU material out.

The album is going for $10-15 at most retailers, give it a shot.

Highlights: “Dead Man Shoes”, “Tomorrow Never Comes”, “Good Times”, “Exit”, “Signs of Life”, “Bruised”, “Jimmy”

Lowlights: “Moonlight Mile”

www.myspace.com/saintsoftheunderground
www.warriorrecords.com/saintsoftheunderground/

WARRANT – Cherry Pie

Warrant – Cherry Pie [Expanded Edition] (1990/2004, Columbia Records/Legacy Recordings)

Track Listing:
1. “Cherry Pie” [3:20]
2. “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” [4:01]
3. “I Saw Red” [3:47]
4. “Bed of Roses” [4:04]
5. “Sure Feels Good to Me” [2:39]
6. “Love in Stereo” [3:06]
7. “Blind Faith” [3:33]
8. “Song and Dance Man” [2:58]
9. “You’re the Only Hell Your Mama Ever Raised” [3:34]
10. “Mr. Rainmaker” [3:29]
11. “Train, Train” [2:49]
12. “Ode to Tipper Gore” [:54]
BONUS TRACKS:
13. Game of War [Demo] [3:38]
14. The Power [Gladiator Mix] [3:00]

Band:
Jani Lane – Vocals
Joey Allen – Guitar
Erik Turner – Guitar
Jerry Dixon – Bass
Steven Sweet – Drums

Now this is a true hair metal classic. It was originally released by Columbia in 1990, but I have the “expanded” & remastered version that Columbia released through their Legacy Recordings imprint back in 2004.

This is Warrant’s high-point and it proved they were one of the best bands of the era. Jani Lane’s voice is as strong as is his songwriting on this album. He is extremely underrated as a songwriter and could probably make quite a career out of penning songs for other bands if he ever chose to do. The lyrics are just grand, especially on “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” and “I Saw Red”, which is one of my favorite Warrant songs. It starts off like it’s going to be a lovey dovey power ballad then turns into a tale of love & betrayal, which I found out actually happened to Jani Lane.

“Cherry Pie” is, of course, their signature song. Legend has it that once the record was done, Columbia Records president told them he didn’t see a big hit rock anthem on the record and wanted one, so Jani quickly wrote “Cherry Pie” within the span of 15 minutes and the rest is history. Jani then went on to famously say in VH1’s Heavy: The Story of Metal documentary series that he could shoot himself for writing that song. It was a pretty creepy moment and you almost believed it. Jani has since gone on to say that he was having a “bad day” when he said that.

Anyway, this album is essential for any hair metal fan. The album was labeled explicit thanks to the last track, “Ode to Tipper Gore” which was outtakes of the band cursing live on stage.

As for the bonus tracks, “Game of War” never made it past the demo stage and isn’t really anything special. But hey, it is a demo afterall. “The Power” is kinda cool and is from the 1992 movie Gladiator starring Cuba Gooding Jr.

Highlights: “Cherry Pie”, “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”, “I Saw Red”, “Love in Stereo”, “You’re the Only Hell Your Mama Ever Raised”, “Mr. Rainmaker”, “Ode to Tipper Gore”

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