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Metal Mania Stripped Vol. 3

By Jeff Kerby, Contributor
Tuesday, June 19, 2007 @ 12:23 AM

On Sidewinder - VH-1

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Words synonymous with one another…uh…I dunno, yet nevertheless, here we are again, with Vol. 3 of their recent Metal Mania series. I’ve got to say that I really like these discs on the whole. Sure, each edition may miss the mark on occasion, and this one is no exception, but overall, they should be applauded for garnering some exposure for bands that don’t ordinarily get much anymore such as Kix, Accept and Autograph. Hell, that alone is enough for me to excuse most of the network’s vast sins. You know, kinda like every time I check out one of the Behind the Music shows that is about say, Pantera, or something, VH-1 always showcases this really skinny wannabe white MILF commentator who talks about having pizza with her family. It’s a definite turn off. For one thing, she has a neck like a giraffe. For another thing, hypothetically, a guy could be rubbing out a pretty good chubby watching her talk about Cheap Trick or some shit, and then…before you know it, she starts talking about her kids and board games, and it’s like “goodbye erection.” I know for a fact ol’ Eddie Trunk probably wants to do her….and a doughnut…preferably at the same time. Maybe Flava Flav could even jump in at some point as the hype man---maybe tell Eddie to jiggle his “shiznit” a little more and for giraffe-neck to “smack dat flabby beaaatch like she means it.” The soundtrack for the porn could then be this album—Metal Mania 3—talk about potential exposure.

It’s too bad though that such a quality collection has to begin with what is without a doubt the worst selection on this disc. Think about it--“Unskinny Bop” when played on an electric guitar alone is decidedly more horrific than having a dream in which Janet Reno sits on your face after a prolific eating binge at Taco Bell. Now, compound that with the fact that the rendition on Metal Mania 3 is live AND acoustic and….well, a person would probably have to add that Ms. Reno also had uncontrollable, corn-dominated diarrhea in order to make the analogy accurate. Oh well, I guess each trip to hell must have its first step. I still don’t get it though. It isn’t like a Poison song requires some kind of Malmsteen-like virtuosity to pull off, yet every time I’ve ever seen them, Poison has been high on energy and low on skill. It’s like, “guys, I could live with a few less ‘hell yeahs’ if you would just agree to maybe..uh, I dunno…maybe miss a few less notes. Is that a possibility at all? I mean, CC (DeVille)is off the smack now…I have faith in you—just give it a try. Look at the notes, and then….play the notes that are on the paper. It might do wonders for the songs. You know, the choruses will stand out and the people in the audience will be able to tell the difference between “Ride The Wind” and ,b>“Look What The Cat Dragged In.” Thank you.”

It’s a good thing the Shaw/Blades collaboration for “High Enough” follows and manages to exceed the original in overall listenability while in the process being generally more indicative of the overall quality of this disc. “Signs” from Tesla comes next and should sound familiar to most fans as it is the oft-played version from Live At The Trocadero album. Unfortunately, the momentum is lost when Kip Winger’s auditory excrement, “Headed For a Heartbreak” rears its ugly head. On this song, Kippy makes Elton John cavorting through a daisy-laden forest with the likes of Clay Aiken, Pee Wee Herman and a couple of hobbits seem downright masculine in comparison. When he sings “don’t make me hurt you”, it makes me want him to try. Of course, he would have to unhook his Madonna-esque microphone and maybe change his name to something more menacing and ferocious like…uh, Bill, in order to do it. There was a reason Stewart from Beavis and Butthead wore a “Winger” shirt----it was songs like this. In fact, the only conceivable way this could blow any worse is if Sebastian Bach were singing these lyrics through a tracheotomy hole while trapped in an echo chamber with Ted Nugent aggressively clutching his nut sack and eating jerky.

< ahref="http://astore.amazon.com/knac-20/detail/B000M8N46M/104-3300471-4304765" target="_blank">Dokken’s “In My Dreams” is up to bat next and this take represents a typically solid performance by Don and company. It’s too bad the follow up had to be “When I Look Into Your Eyes” by Firehouse. If you liked that song the first time around, well…isn’t it about time you went to the doctor and had the water removed from your brain? This shit almost makes Winger sound good. Honestly, Warrant always gets a bunch of harassment from the press about being the fruity harbinger of doom for metal, but if ya asked me…it was bands like this Danger Danger and Winger that really doomed the genre. Hell, this music was so gay that the country needed to go into a decade long grunge-induced heroin binge to get over it. As a matter of fact, this is so gay it makes Andy Dick’s character in Old School look like the Marlboro Man. To prove my point, Jani Lane’s contribution “Heaven” sounds downright Zepellinesque compared to the aforementioned piles of sonic cat poop provided by Kippage and Firehouse. I will say though that Stephen Pearcy’s vocals on “Way Cool Jr.” are really great--so good in fact that I was able to forget about the Firehouse debacle pretty quickly and enjoy the rest of the disc. Pearcy doesn’t often get credited with quality singing, but he definitely should here.

What might be the best three songs on this disc come next and basically validate the whole idea of the metal acoustic album. The first comes from what many might consider an unlikely source---I know I’ve taken a lot of flak for loving this band, but…too bad—Autograph’s Sign In Please was a great record. Steve Plunkett still delivers “Turn Up The Radio” in such a fun, entertaining way that, unlike Poison, doesn’t make me want to cry or order another three beers just to make it through the set. This is followed up by Tom Keifer’s chilling rendition of “Nobody’s Fool”. Said it before, and I’ll say it again, the guy is the most talented musician to be associated with 80’s glam metal--this offering does nothing to invalidate that assessment. The inclusion of “Don’t Close Your Eyes” by Kix is a welcome surprise here--it was a helluva song when it first appeared on the classic album, Blow My Fuse, and it is pretty amazing here as well. Kix just doesn’t get spoken of enough as a band that created some of the best music of the era. It really is bizarre how time manages to diminish the legacy of some bands that really deserve all the accolades that go along with having been a legitimate force in rock while celebrating others whose careers were based more on image than music (insert about a thousand band names here—a couple already mentioned previously in this review.)

Metal Mania 3 concludes with a trio of songs that achieve varying levels of success. The first comes from Queensryche. “The Killing Words” has always been an underrated selection from the band, and it’s good to see it get some notice here as this Rage For Order gem is performed in the band’s usual, technically solid way. The next tune is Slaughter’s “Up All Night”---a song that I actually like much better acoustically than I did in its original form—the fact is that Mark’s voice has held up quite well over time. It’s too bad the audience participation portion of the audio sounds like it came from your cousin Chester’s backyard barbeque. Now, this generally solid album ends with what is easily the most bizarre selection here, which is Udo’s stripped down take on the metal classic, “Balls To the Wall”. Right up front, I don’t want to say that it sucks…necessarily. If you want to know what it sounds like though…imagine some old uncle of yours—you know, the one most likely to get busted on a Dateline NBC special targeting pedophiles. Ok, now…imagine that your old pervy uncle is crooning lyrics about “plugging bombs in everyone’s ass” in a soft, plaintive way to your favorite 8 year old, male cousin. Does the fact that he is singing this song to him mean there has actually been any impropriety committed: no. Is it weird anyway? You bet your ass it is. This selection could easily be voted in as the new anthem for the Man-Boy Love Association. No wonder the members of classic era Accept were upset.

Sure, VH-1 does take a lot of flak for various programming choices that it makes, but in reality, it is still a helluva lot better than MTV and at least makes an attempt to shed some light on bands that kept the concept of rock alive and vibrant in a time where dance and synth-pop were originally the genres of choice before the Quiet Riots and Def Leppards eventually took over the landscape of video and public consciousness. It has been said many times that a good song is a good song, and if it’s really good, you can play it on an acoustic guitar regardless of how it was originally performed, and the backbone of it will still show through. That idea certainly holds true with the majority of selections here. It’s just too bad that so many groups get stereotyped as having been mediocre or lower class musicians when in reality, the 80’s showcased a lot of talented rockers who just happened to also be interested in presentation and theatrics. If they managed to get chicks in the process, all the better, I say. Any record that helps perpetuate the idea that metal music is and always has been a legitimate form of auditory expression is a more than worthwhile endeavor. Now, if the network could just do something about Flava Flav, Eddie Trunk and the giraffe-necked MILF…they would really be onto something.


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