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VH1 Metal Mania Stripped

By Jeff Kerby, Contributor
Thursday, February 10, 2005 @ 11:03 PM

(Viacom International/ Sidewin

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Having a really nice looking girl take a hot, steamy, nut-filled love dump on your chest.

Having sex with a really, really elderly woman because not only is she experienced--she’s grateful.

Eating an entire dozen Krispy Kreme doughnuts and washing them down with a gallon of milk.

Thrusting your wang into the ass end of a goat on a cold, lonely night.

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All of these behaviors could be considered guilty pleasures for some—either that or symptoms of some kind of emotional malady that only prescription drugs can mollify. That also sort of describes how I initially viewed VH-1’s disc entitled Metal Mania Stripped when I unwrapped it. Anyone who has ever seen some of the old school metal bands of the day perform live instantly knows that many of the groups like Great White, Tesla and Cinderella are generally comprised of talented musicians who can really make an acoustic experience resonate with their audience. Others… well, bands like White Lion, Winger, Extreme and Firehouse were horrible when they were “plugged in”—so it was unfathomable to me just how frightening Mike Tramp, Kip Winger or Gary Cherone and company might be in a situation such as this. Either way, I noticed that amidst this hodgepodge of all that was flammable during the ‘80s also presided such notables as the Scorpions and Queensryche. The whole possibility of what this record might represent both horrified as well as fascinated me when I put it in the stereo partly because I wanted to see just how bad this was really going to be.

When the sterile applause of the audience first echoes through the speakers, Poison, a band never really known for their technical prowess, kicks off this fifteen-song offering with a stripped down performance of “Every Rose Has It’s Thorn.” Anyone who has ever seen this group live knows they have a propensity to be both sloppy and inconsistent, but this is actually a pretty decent take of a tune that is always welcome on a dilapidated stereo at 3 AM when the beer is gone and the pickin’s are slim. Brett’s vocals are strong and the guitar work sounds as if it actually matches the selection--C.C. must not have been playing that show. Night Ranger follows with “Sister Christian” which most people know as the song that had the video with the parochial school girl walking down the steps or some damn thing. This group can play though—I always kinda thought Jack Blades was sort of cool. Even if the vocals are a little choppy compared to the original recording, it’s still worth a listen--you know you had a “Midnight Madness” t-shirt back in the day.

It is at that point when Cinderella enters the mix with their stark rendition of “Don’t Know What You’ve Got (Till It’s Gone).” I must have said it about a million times, but it bears repeating—Tom Keifer is the most talented musician to come out of any of the LA hair bands. The live presence and the soul he possesses never fails to make me wonder why Cinderella didn’t evolve into something more than it was. Queenryche’s take of “Silent Lucidity” may be the highlight of the collection. Geoff Tate’s voice strong as always, and everyone knowledgeable in the genre knows that Queensryche can play—that should never be questioned. Whenever there is a problem with this band, it generally focuses on the material they play—not their musicianship. This song reminds fans of a time when this group could not only play a great song, but they could create one as well. “Ballad of Jayne” by L.A. Guns is another stellar track by a band who has made more than a few dozen people happy over the years. Of course, Great White’s new acoustic recording of “Save Your Love” is another contribution that guarantees satisfaction for the discerning metal aficionado.

Be that as it may, it wouldn’t take a musical expert to know that bands like Queensryche, Tesla, Great White and the Scorpions can deliver acoustically. Instead, the surprises in this collection tend to come from many of the aforementioned bands that I’ve always tended to despise on principal alone. Exhibit A: Extreme. Man, this group sucked--I don’t care what you say. They sucked. That’s it. Whether or not you met your future wife while listening to “More Than Words” isn’t important to me. Actually, beginning a relationship with anyone under that type of a negative sign probably isn’t a good idea, and besides, you will probably have more than one marriage that ends in divorce anyway, so don’t get too hung up on the soundtrack to that disaster. That being said, I actually kind of halfway dug this song on this particular disc. I don’t know. Maybe it’s nostalgia. Whatever it is, it allowed me to also not only tolerate, but actually enjoy, such chronically pussified numbers as:

“When The Children Cry”—White Lion

“Miles Away”—Winger

“When I Look Into Your Eyes”—Firehouse

The appeal of this collection is probably due to a number of factors that may have more to do with a given listener’s given past then it does about what kind of music they currently enjoy. Certain songs that at one point may have been deemed undesirable can often sound a little different years later. That is certainly the case for many of these tracks on VH-1 Metal Mania. I mean, I hated “Fly to the Angels” by Slaughter and in fact, I still hate that song, but within the context of this disc, it makes sense and is actually welcome within this context. Of course, this context would also include you taking your old Camaro down to the local bar where some metal band you’ve never heard of before is throwing it down Warrant-style in front of you. Then, as you sing along to a song that you’ve never heard before but already know because the first two verses are really simple--the chorus is something akin to “let’s live… in the pussy or let’s die… in the pussy” or some such pubescent detritus, you may find yourself looking over to see a 40-something female dressed in vintage tiger-striped spandex. Before you know it, you realize you’re sauntering up to her offering your best line… some bullshit about “I haven’t seen you in here before.” The pockmarks around her mouth raise and elongate as she breathlessly tells you to take her away from this place and make mad, passionate bone-play to her in the front seat of your “bitchin’” ride. As you stride confidently to your car with said rocker chick, the woman turns to you and says, “put something in that rocks, but not too much—something kind of romantic.” Now that would be the time for this disc. As you are engaging in your foreplay while whistling the intro to “Winds of Change,” you will probably find that she’ll lose her mind and no longer be able to control herself. That’s how powerful this disc is. Yes gentlemen, Metal Mania can even get you into a pair of tiger-striped pants---as long as you don’t look too carefully or inhale too deeply, you are bound to have a good time. Besides, buying this record has to be easier than getting shit on… fucking an old woman… eating doughnuts or screwing a goat in the ass--sometime you’ll have to tell me if it’s more fun though.

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