It may be a leap of faith for the newer metal fans to believe that an album like this was once upon a time considered to be the hip "in thang". The music at this point had often become a stylized fashion extravaganza. Bands such as Cinderella
had even complained that their mismatched selection of clothing often overshadowed their performances when written up for live concert reviews, often to the point where their finely coiffed hair was waxed on poetically about with no reference to the actual music being played at all.
, riding this wave of the pop metal frenzied fandom was more than happy to don all white corridinating outfits with metallic stars to the delight of preteens everywhere who swooned at the very thought of such a getup on platinum blonde pretty boys. But despite the fashion for the video for "Heaven"
, the album they dropped was quite a bomb (like "da bomb" as in a good thing, not "bomb" as in "sucked so hard, it bombed"), known as "DRFSR" ("Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinkin' Rich"). A hopeful, and wildly optimistic title, but a prophetic one. Indeed.
Of course this once beloved image of hair metal angels from heaven was soon to be fodder for every critic under the sun who blamed a lot of Warrant
's transgressions for the great metal backlash that hit a few years into the future, shortly after their also successful follow up, the early 90s"Cherry Pie". Pop or hair metal had been forged as a fun loving alternative to the dead serious crushing stuff that the harder circles were used to. While it takes a certain mindset to digest Celtic Frost, Omen, Slayer, Iron Maiden, Fates Warning
and other bands representing more sophisticated sounds, anyone at all would find themselves hard pressed to not find the disposability of this radio friendly pap enjoyable and memorable to boot.
The music was often an anthem to the grind, complete with hip thrusting guitar rhythms and sleazy, sexually charged lyrical content that doubled as an aphrodesiac. But Warrant
was one of the bands to tarnish the image that had developed to bring electric guitars back to the masses. All it took was the title track from "Cherry Pie" and the (intentionally) hilarious video, loaded with double entendres and a blonde bombshell, to send the wolves to come and tear apart what was once a booming genre.
From then on the band changed with the times, as many did when the popularity began to plummet faster than Enron stock during a scandal, and the music began to suck badly as well to top it off. The transistion to alternative music to try and keep afloat took its toll on many outfits and Warrant
ended up being a sad, sludgy imitation and the polar opposite of everything that made them "Tiger Beat" darlings in the first place. The band does continue to exist, minus its frontman, Jani Lane, and members swap off with the frequency of players swapping their Magic the Gathering trading cards.
It seems that "DRFSR" is left further behind in the dust, dismissed as just another one of those pop metal knockoffs that those with voices that are supposed to mean something and who claim to be critics, love to hate. One that perhaps received too much attention for its own good at the time, and is really just a target for cannon fodder and pop shots by the unimaginative. Slave Raider deserves such treatment perhaps as did some of Quiet Riot's failed attempts at reclaiming their glory by reusing yet even more cover songs far past their freshness date, but "DRFSR" did not deserve such a tragic fate.
Finally we get down to the nitty gritty here. What seperates "DRFSR" from its brethren? Perhaps the fact that even in retrospect, almost the entire album is actually (alright...wait for it...) *good*. Even the songs that could have been recorded as just filler come off being rosy around the edges. The disc itself is slick, no doubt, with tons of chunky rhythms and gloriously addictive melodies abounding everywhere. Popularity had not yet tainted them, so the CD resonated with honesty and in comparision with other outfits, such as the overproduced Danger Danger
(who's over-the-top antics I still adore), and the artificial slickness of Poison
, this one seems to oddly manage to skip the whole glitz and glitter ghost for this debut (but were not so lucky with "Cherry Pie", the followup, despite the grim "Uncle Tom's Cabin").
Lyrically it still dealt with all that one anticipates from a release of this era, love in its various forms (Sex! Sex! Sex!) and having a party good time, but they seemed to do it with a little more down-home honesty. It doesn't feel faked, but natural, and while Poison
was fun in that "we're sniffing coke and getting blow jobs behind the buffet table" kinda way, Warrant
was more like "smokin' weed and getting laid in a haystack in Uncle Bubba's barn." Or wait, would that be Uncle Tom's cabin? I hear strange things go 'round them parts though. Hmmmm yeah. That explains it. One Hollywood, one not quite, though the title track seems to hint differently.
This thing was primed and geared to bust out into the world as a hitmaker. It spawned four songs that charted, including the two ballads, plus "Big Talk"
and "Down Boys"
. The latter which had extreme heavy rotation on the MTV. I often wonder if "32 Pennies"
or "In the Sticks"
had been given opportunity to shine, if they would not have ended up with six big ones. Warrant
was freakin' everywhere at this point in time, and "Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinking Rich" managed to climb to number 10 on the billboard charts, no doubt spurred on by the success of its singles.
Jani Lane had a beautiful voice. It was nothing overtly special, but it was fairly quirk free. He could have easily made it as a straight up AOR
singer. If he had continued down this road that's illustrated perfectly with the two ballads, I would not have been surprised to find him popping up as a reinvented Top 40 crooner safe for the white wigged crowd. Yeah, he was just good that way. Too bad he had to get a multi coloured mohawk that rivaled the rainbow of basketball star Dennis Rodman and left to his own devices, bitchy shinanigans and a tattered nu-metal vocal style.
Erik Turner and Joey Allen made a great guitar team. Their riffage was not excessive but not underused either. The guitars here are to accent the album, not overrun it for the most part. There are times of showboatmanship as wanted, and even needed at this time period, but they are tasteful and the combo is a nice one at that. The rhythm section of Jerry Dixon and Steven Sweet topped it off, well, rather sweetly. And the production has to be given a nod since Beau Hill was behind it all and he made one slick sounding little album.
The title track on the CD is the 80s lifestyle excess wrapped up in a nutshell where rockers are so rich that they can just light up their smokes with cash money. Not just one dollar bills, but one hundred dollar bills. That's some serious waste of good, cold cash, but whatever. It's meant to show just how out of control these bands were at the time, all while laughing it off as a party tune in a Motley Crue
type style. Nice.
Ballads such as "Heaven"
, was a lovely concoction crooned by Lane. This song was always something a bit special to me, like it was made just for me. I suppose that's how every girl felt at the time, but still. it's sentiments are a little scattered across the board, but comes off feeling rather honest every time. But back on track, this ballad used to have the power to make me cry like a baby, and it's hard to pinpoint why. The lyrics are saccharine sweet but tinged with sadness, and there's just something that's hard to corner about this one. It just had that 80s magic. "How I love the way you move, and the sparkle in your eyes, there's a color deep inside them like a blue suburban sky. When I come home late at night, and you're in bed asleep, I wrap my arms around you so I can feel you breathe."
As ridiculous as the first part of that sounds, when put to music and sung aloud, its absolutely breathtaking gorgeous, and what woman would not want a man that's so attentive and so into her that he would just wrap his arms around her like that? Chicks dream of this stuff. Sing about it, and you've got a hit on your hands. Maybe that's why it peaked at #2 on the charts.
"32 Pennies (In a Ragu Jar)"
is my sentimental favorite, an ode to penniless love where it's the emotion that matters, not how much money is in the bank (or the spaghetti sauce jar in this case), but yet the chorus also lingers a wandering side too. It's so harmony infused and butter smooth that this nod to a potentially wandering eye slides right under the radar. "But I'll think I'll stay just for one more day, cos I'm in love with you.oooh oooh baby yeah."
Ah so genius. But you know what? It may be corny, but with the delivery, the bouncy guitars and mid tempo madness, it works as tight as a drum.
"Sometimes She Cries"
was a ballad that had some depth to it, maybe not to the extent of Kix's anti-suicide hymn "Don't Close Your Eyes", but it wasn't just about sappy puppy love. Much more edgy and refreshing than just another "Oh I love you! And let me tell you how" than the other power ballads of the day. This was more about a girl who was like so many I knew. They burned their candles at both ends (heh, maybe quite literally) and eventually were left with nothing but a pillow to cry on and questions of why they were left cold and lonely with only the heartache behind after their revolving lover lifestyle. Perhaps this is why it became a hit, because it did hit, home that is, for many more people than even they would like to admit to themselves.
"In the Sticks"
supports the country boy image (oh but don't call him a hick, no) as they sing fervently about shunning the city in favor of the laid back country atmosphere (or more like the focus is losing yourself to a hayseed chick, who's not like those city girls, oh no) which fits the disc's musical theme of catchy but not crazy overboard. From the flush of guitar and the drums kickin in til fade, this thing rocks out with a sexy upbeat vibe. The bridge is just magic where he draws that "love" in "love enough for you"
out until what seems like infinity, plus the raw animalistic passion that is conveyed with each velvety "hey girl"
. The guitar not only fills but thrills, and seems to be right where its needed at that very precise moment. Lyrically this always painted a vivid picture, especially with some of the last bits of the verse "Took you down to willow pond, where the cat tails grow real high, and in a few brief moments, we waved our childhood goodbye"
"So Damn Pretty (Should Be Against the Law)"
could be dismissed as typical glam, but ah wait, the guitars are sizzling with just a little more fire and the way the title is sung during the chorus with "So damn pretty" emphasized and the remainder in a rushed rhythmic feel, is as addictive as hell or crack, depending on if you are into drugs or demons. If neither, well. its still just as addictive anyway. The whole song just seems to hang on that explosive exclamation of "should be against the law!"
was one that managed to get a video and helped bolt these poofy haired guys right into the popular stratosphere. Huge melodies that grab and don't let go and a simple yet effective hard rock crunch make this a partyin' selection that is so melodic you can feel the cushiness.
With a recent re-release that cleans the sound up a little bit and tacks on two additional tracks than the original ten, this is definitely a must-own disc for anyone that even has a slight passing interest in the glam bands of yesteryear. They may be old news and a played out fad, but it's albums like this one that make the genre much more enduring than other flash in the pan crap that was obviously squeezed out of a tube for mass consumption and little else. If you want someone to poke fun at, go dig out Nitro, cos atleast these songs were coherent, the album cohesive, and the entire package, a nice one to chill out and drive around town to on sunny bright days. Even all these years later, it's still an enjoyable disc to pop in the player and just relive those days of not-so-innocence.
Written by Alanna
Thursday, June 2, 2005Show all reviews by AlannaRatingsAlanna: 8/10
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