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VH1: The Big 80’s Power Ballads

VH1: The Big 80’s Power Ballads (1999, Rhino Records)

Track Listing:
1. “Fly to the Angels” – Slaughter … (5:08)
2. “Something to Believe In”  – Poison … (5:30)
3. “Amanda”  – Boston … (4:17)
4. “I Want to Know What Love Is” – Foreigner 5:01
5. “Alone Again”  – Dokken … (4:22)
6. “House of Pain”  – Faster Pussycat … (5:47)
7. “The Search Is Over” – Survivor … (4:13)
8. “Is This Love” – Whitesnake … (4:43)
9. “We Belong” – Pat Benatar … (3:39)
10. “Don’t Close Your Eyes”  – Kix … (4:19)
11. “What Does It Take”  – Honeymoon Suite … (4:16)
12. “Missing You” – John Waite … (4:29)
13. “Miles Away” – Winger … (4:12)
14. “When the Children Cry” – White Lion … (4:07)
15. “Goodbye” – Night Ranger … (4:21)
16. “Fly High Michelle” – Enuff Z’nuff … (4:17)

The late 1990s and early 2000s were a time of 80s nostalgia. Clothes, movies, music. One of the biggest flagwavers of 80s retro was VH1, who scored with the popular Behind The Music show, Pop Up Videos, and tons of 1980s-centric specials.

Not surprisingly, they also released their own compilations of 80’s tunes in a series called The Big 80’s. The Monster series of hair metal compilations from Razor & Tie Records proved popular and one of their most popular entries was Monster Ballads, so it only made sense for VH1 to release their own CD of hair ballads and tie it all in with the Big 80’s series.

There are TONS of other power ballad comps out there on the market, but this one and Monster Ballads are the absolute best and the bonus is that the people at Rhino & VH1 must’ve been paying attention because there’s only three songs that appear on both compilations (“Something to Believe In”, “Is This Love” and “Don’t Close Your Eyes”).

Essentially, this *is* a hair ballad CD, though a few artists like Boston, Honeymoon Suite, Foreigner, Pat Benatar, Survivor and John Waite slip in, but the songs fit right in with the mood. Even if those artist aren’t hair metal acts, they certainly did produce hair metal ballads.
Power ballads are what got me into the hair scene in the first place (every hair metal act should have 2 or 3 great ones in their catalog), so this is right up there as one of my favorite albums. And yes, being the sap that I am, I would crank this during troubled relationship times when I was younger.

What Dreams May Come…

Last night I had a dream about Metallica searching for a new singer. This whole lead singer search was being filmed as a documentary. James was still in the band, but for some reason, they just wanted someone else to sing the songs.

Bret Michaels jammed with them as part of the auditions and did a pretty darn good job. They weren’t playing thrash, but it was still heavy metal and the new song had a pretty cool groove and was very catchy. Bret was doing a great job on the vocals with a rapid fire delivery. A Bret Michaels fronted Metallica sounded great, but after he left the auditions, Lars & James were talking about how they didn’t think he fit the band’s image.

Also mentioned by Lars & James to have auditioned (but not seen in the dream) were none other than Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley! I think, possibly, Aerosmith as a whole auditioned for the lead singer spot as well, but that’s kinda hazy.

The Killing Road

Everyone have their tickets? The tours are starting to kick off and I’m getting pumped for it. I live fairly close to Detroit and Chicago, so a lot of acts are coming my way.

As it stands right now, I’ll be hitting up Crue Fest on July 15th in Detroit and I CANNOT wait. Motley absolutely killed (With no opening act!) when I saw them in Pensacola, Florida, back on the Carnival of Sin tour and I know they’ll do the same here. I can only imagine it’ll be that much better having four other bands (Buckcherry, Papa Roach, Sixx:A.M., Trapt) playing with them.

Then on top of that, I’ll be getting my tickets to the August 18th ‘Metal Masters’ show (Priest, Heaven and Hell, Motorhead, Testament) in Detroit.

There’s also a Poison/Sebastian Bach/Dokken show on August 8th in Sterling Heights, but I don’t know if my budget will allow for it, but I’d love to go.

POISON – Flesh & Blood

Poison – Flesh & Blood (1990/2006, Capitol Records)

Tracklisting:
1. “Strange Days of Uncle Jack” [1:40]
2. “Valley of Lost Souls” [3:58]
3. “(Flesh & Blood) Sacrifice” [4:40]
4. “Swampjuice (Soul-O)” [1:25]
5. “Unskinny Bop” [3:48]
6. “Let It Play” [4:21]
7. “Life Goes On” [4:47]
8. “Come Hell or High Water” [5:02]
9. “Ride the Wind” [3:51]
10. “Don’t Give up an Inch” [3:43]
11. “Something to Believe In” [5:28]
12. “Ball and Chain” [4:23]
13. “Life Loves a Tragedy” [5:14]
14. “Poor Boy Blues” [5:19]
BONUS TRACKS:
15. “Something to Believe In” [Acoustic Version] [6:01]
16. “God Save The Queen” [Instrumental Demo] [2:48]

I should point out that while this album was originally released in 1990, it was also remastered and reissued in 2006 by Capitol Records, with the addition of two b-sides, in order to celebrate the band’s 20th anniversary. The remastered version is the version I own.

Poison was one the first bands I remember being introduced to that got me into the whole “hair metal” scene. A friend of mine owned Greatest Hits 1986-1996 when it initially came out and I borrowed it. I was hooked and had to go score my own copy. Since then, Poison’s been one of my favorite bands.

Funny thing is, I actually never owned this album until a year ago when I picked up the reissue. Most of Poison’s albums have been really good, but I was blown away at just how this one was. They still rock & party on this album, but their sound is a lot more professional here. The musicianship is better and so is the production thanks to Bruce Fairbairn, who produced AC/DC’s The Razor’s Edge (my favorite AC/DC album) and Aerosmith’s Permanent Vacation and Pump.

No, this is not the definitive Poison album (I think that award goes to Open Up and Say… Ahh!), but this is my personal favorite from the band.

Highlights: “Strange Days of Uncle Jack” (cool intro), “Valley of Lost Souls”, “(Flesh & Blood) Sacrifice”, “Swampjuice (Soul-O)” (instrumental that sounds like something from Cinderella), “Unskinny Bop”, “Life Goes On”, “Ride the Wind”, “Something to Believe In”

YOUTH GONE WILD: Heavy Metal Hits of the 80’s, Volume 1

YOUTH GONE WILD: HEAVY METAL HITS OF THE 80’S, VOLUME 1 (1996, Rhino Records)

Track Listing:
1. “Rock You Like a Hurricane” – Scorpions (4:12)
2. “Talk Dirty to Me” – Poison (3:45)
3. “The Last in Line” – Dio (5:47)
4. “Lay It Down” – Ratt (3:27)
5. “Never Enough” – L.A. Guns (4:14)
6. “Parental Guidance” – Judas Priest (3:26)
7. “Blind in Texas” – W.A.S.P. (4:22)
8. “Ace of Spades” – Motorhead (2:49)
9. “Balls to the Wall” – Accept (5:43)
10. “Street of Dreams” – Rainbow (4:28)
11. “Screaming in the Night” – Krokus (6:40)
12. “Summertime Girls [Studio Version]” – Y&T (3:28)
13. “We’re Not Gonna Take It” -Twisted Sister (3:40)
14. “Cum on Feel the Noize” – Quiet Riot (4:50)

Rhino was ahead of the curve by a few years when they started releasing 80s metal compilations as the hair metal renaissance really didn’t start picking up until around ’98 and ’99 with the arrival of sites like Metal Sludge, VH1 Behind the Music specials on bands like Poison & Def Leppard, and the countless hair band reunion and summer tours that sprung up.  The first three volumes of this series were all released on the same day and there was a fourth volume released in ’98 (don’t worry, I’ll be getting to all of them).

Of all the YGW releases, this is the most star-studded, with Krokus and Y&T being the only lesser-known bands (but any fan of the genre knows who those bands are). There are some glaring omissions from the whole series (Bon Jovi, Motley Crue, Guns N Roses, Def Leppard, Alice Cooper, etc.), but I’ll just assume they probably couldn’t afford to license any of those songs because with the exception of Cinderella, most of those acts remained big names even as the 90s rolled on.

Every song here is a classic with the exception of Priest’s “Parental Guidance”, which enters the Cheese Zone somewhat. There’s so many better Priest songs they could’ve chosen to represent them outside of the standard Priest “classics” (I’m assuming they were trying to avoid the obvious inclusions like “You Got Another Thing Comin'” and “Breaking the Law”).

This is the best volume of the series and probably one of the better 80s metal compilations you’re going to find as virtually every band is represented by their signature song. Even if you already own the albums these songs originally appeared on, this compilation makes for a great “mix” CD to go cruising around with.

Highlights: The whole freakin’ album. Even the weakest song (“Parental Guidance”) has some charm to it, as long as you take it in the context of “it was the 80s”. Bonafide classic tracks here.

Lowlights: None. A near perfect compilation.

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