The Rockstar Ramblings: The Trifecta
Band Photo: Poison (?)
I found it entertaining that one of the reasons Chickenfoot named their second album “III” was to pass by the sophomore slump album and go right to their third. Three great albums in a row is no small feat. This week I (one opinion) take a look at some bands that have successfully accomplished the feat of: The Trifecta!
What is the greatest glam trifecta, three albums back to back to back by one glam/hard rock artist, of all time?. This particular list thrives on longevity, ability to put together “full” albums without filler, and popularity during their reign versus one hit wonders and magical “one off” albums never again to be duplicated by the artist. Let’s get the rules out of the way. NO Van Halen. When we cover the best “six pack”, the six greatest consecutive albums we can discuss early Van Halen. For now let’s try and keep an even playing field. No Aerosmith allowed. Nothing against the band, just don’t like American Idol. Also there’s the whole should they be lumped in with eighties bands despite starting in the seventies. B-Sides and EP’s albums do not count. Because of this, Guns N’ Roses Lies is not allowed. Image and videos are important. MTV matters.
First a word about the honorable mentions: Interesting was how Motley Crue released Theatre of Pain between four trifecta eligible albums. Bon Jovi hit a grand slam twice, first with Slippery When Wet, and then Bad Medicine, but would drop off after (NOTE: Spare the comments NJ, no one likes Bon Jovi as much as you do). Cinderella deserves an honorable mention for their first four albums, and probably would rank #6 on my list. One of the more interesting bands is Def Leppard. You could debate Def Leppard for days (assuming you had enough whiskey), possible topics could include: Are the three albums On Through the Night, Pyromania, and Hysteria the greatest incremental three albums ever? Is this a glam band? Does Adrenalize even count anymore? Who was ever declared winner between Joe Elliot and Jon Bon Jovi in the eighties jeans rivalry?
On to my top 5:
5. Skid Row – (Skid Row, Slave To The Grind, Subhuman Race)
The self-titled album separated Skid Row from a group of bands that were getting more difficult to separate from. The initial album was released in the eighties and there was definitely a glam element to Skid Row, making them eligible.
Skid Row had a little more of an edge compared to some of the other bands. If you were a male and were carrying Poison, Def Leppard, and Skid Row CDs, you would put the Skid Row CD on the top, covering the others. They were somewhere between Poison and Guns N’ Roses. A little dirtier than Poison, but not quite the GN’R mess; you could sense Sebastian Bach didn’t wash his hair every day. It was the ballads, “18 and Life” and “I Remember You” that would receive air play and be known by the denim jacket crowds. Obviously Bach and company owe a thank you to all of the bands before them that made the power ballad popular. “18 and Life” had a video that should receive the Ultimate Bad Ass award for the kid in the video who gets thrown through the glass door and then pushes his friend when he tries to help him up as if to say, “What, you think this is the first glass door I’ve been thrown through!” That is an Ultimate Bad Ass. My take on Skid Row’s “I Remember You” video is that the disheveled guy walking around staring at the picture of the girl was part of a Ponzi scheme, and his girlfriend left him after he lost all of his money. Who would have thought “I Remember You” would be relative today?
In 1991, their second record, Slave To The Grind, would do exactly what they said it would do and that was make their music more “heavy” and it did just that, solidifying Skid Row as leaders in the eighties heavy metal scene. The album would go to number one behind hits “Monkey Business” and “Wasted Time”. Bordering on speed metal in some parts of the album, you will also find the angry treats: “Riot Act” and “The Threat” buried deep within and the party song “Get the Fuck Out” which was only available on some releases of the cassette/CD.
The next album, Subhuman Race, continued to build on the angst and speed metal brand of rock. Critically, this was their finest work and demonstrated the talents of Sebastian Back, his ability to wail out “Big Guns” and then “Beat Yourself To Death” seamlessly.
With these three albums Skid Row (almost literally) gave their fans a 1-2-3 punch with these albums. Throw out the B-Sides album and here is a band that went from hard rock to heavy metal to speed metal and kept their fan base.
18 AND LIFE
4. Poison (Look What The Cat Dragged In, Open Up and Say Ahh!, Flesh and Blood)
After the inaugural Look What The Cat Dragged In, an album that introduced the glam foursome with “Talk Dirty To Me”, “I Want Action”, and “I Won’t Forget You” a lot expected their follow-up to be more of the same. With Open Up and Say Ahh! Fans got was they had expected and more. Not only did Poison provide their guitar laden pop hits, they also delivered their ballad “Every Rose has Its Thorn”. Their third album, Flesh and Blood continued to please their fans and squeezed in right before the bubble burst in the early nineties. Released months later it may have been a different story for Poison.
TALK DIRTY TO ME
3. David Lee Roth – (Eat’em and Smile, Skyscraper, A Little Ain’t Enough )
For Roth’s first initial solo record, Eat’em and Smile no one needed a hit more than Diamond Dave, and he didn’t disappoint. The lead single, “Yankee Rose” was a rocker accompanied by a video with the famous line: “I’ll take a glazed doughnut and a bottle of anything, to go.” The videos for “Yankee Rose” and “Goin’ Crazy” may be the definitive height of the spandex era thanks to Roth’s numerous costume changes, most incorporating spandex with thongs worn on the outside. Eat’em and Smile was a well balanced album with rockers like “Shy Boy” as well as the “slow it down and show Dave’s seductive side” with “Ladies Nite in Buffalo?”. There’s even a cover of “That’s Life”, displaying Roth’s show biz nature, a side only he has been able to portray without coming off too corny, or cheesy, or both.
It was 1988 when David Lee Roth would release his second full length album titled Skyscraper. Apparently between albums Dave had done a lot of rock climbing and this became either the inspiration for the album, or just an outlet for Roth to showcase his feat.
It was 1991, the height of glam/hard rock when David Lee Roth released his third full album, A Little Ain’t Enough. This album was far heavier than the previous and may be from first to last track, Roth’s most magnificent. The album delivers heavy guitars with great sounding vocals accompanied by gritty lyrics of sex, power, and more sex.
2. Dokken – (Breaking The Chains, Tooth and Nail, Under Lock and Key)
Their first album, Breaking The Chains, was a solid release that persevered over the “heavy metal” resistance of the time. In 1984 Dokken released the album Tooth and Nail. The album was a success (and more accepted), riding singles that included “Alone Again” and “Into The Fire” that were accompanied by epic videos.
Snow is falling, fire is in the background, and the band is wearing T-shirts with sleeves cut off. This is Dokken’s video for “Into The Fire”, a meteorologist’s worst nightmare. Twice I believe I see the string holding the helicopter that is circling over the heads of the band and also important to note: there is a fair amount of jumping over barbed wire in this video. If you have a phobia, proceed with caution.
Another year, another album, in 1985 the band released Under Lock and Key. Another successful album that included “The Hunter”, “In My Dreams”, and “It’s Not Love”. The video for “The Hunter” taught us that when walking streets littered with garbage, keep kicking the garbage, move it around. In the end I’ve come to the conclusion that the band just wanted to be recorded while riding their bikes and driving cars fast. It works in a schizophrenic sort of way.
INTO THE FIRE
1. Ratt – (Out of The Cellar, Invasion of Your Privacy, Dancing Undercover)
After their debut, Ratt was quickly hailed as heroes on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles; it wasn’t until the release of their 1984 album, Out of the Cellar, when Ratt blew up across the country and world. Ratt’s Out of the Cellar kicks off with Stephen Pearcy telling us about “A Lone Dealer, with Snake Eyes” in “Wanted Man”. Track three provided us with one of the biggest hits of the decade in “Round and Round”, a song that will stick in your head for days, also a glimpse into Ratt’s musical inspiration (fast women and hookers) which would be continuously detailed during their next three albums. Side 2 begins with the guitar heavy “Lack of Communication”, and continues strong through an updated version of “Back for More”.
For the video “Round and Round”, Ratt stepped it up, using Milton Berle in drag and an over the top dinner party where guitar solos fell through the ceiling and (predictably) rat was served as the main course. Think average night at Charlie Sheen’s house.
In 1985 the boys from Ratt released Invasion of Your Privacy, an approved follow-up from their last album; again the focus of the songs was pretty much about getting laid. The question still stands regarding the “Lay it Down” video: More shocking, the clown, Robin Crosby’s hair, or the five year old boy wishing to bang the little five year old girl? Let’s play it safe and call this one a tie. 1986 brought the album Dancing Undercover a non-stop rock opera of lust, models, and yes, hookers. If this truly is meant to be a rock opera, I’m assuming the story is about a girl. The girl is a whore.
Looking back on the eighties you would be hard pressed to find three consecutive albums that deliver as well as Ratt did during the height of the glam metal rise. With a consistent blues rock sound, no power ballads, and an appetite for sex (and strippers and hookers) like no other, Ratt set the standard for future bands entering into the genre.
ROUND AND ROUND
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