Once Bitten, Twice Shy

Our resident trailer-park critic finds out that hell hath no fury like a Parrothead scorned

Peace and smiles to you.

Bong hit, beer, anyone?

Chief Trashman
Hey chief, your review of J.B.'s new album Beach House On The Moon was way off! It's much better than 90 percent of the crap you hear on MTV! In fact I'd have to say it's one of J.B.'s best efforts of the 90's. It's quite a relaxing album to listen to after a long day. You really need to listen to it more than once to get the full effect of the CD.

Ah, jeepers, lay off MTV, already. Hey, how about a bong hit?

Tracii Guns
Killing Machine
(Deadline/Cleopatra)

Tracii Guns plays guitar in L.A. Guns. It's widely known that Tracii wears a wig. This is his so-called punk-rock record. And, ain't it a thankless world?

Ratt
Ratt

Great White
Can't Get There From Here
(Portrait/Columbia)

All hail bad boob jobs, mullet coifs and meth-fueled zombies speeding in Camaros through cinderblock suburbs with some wrenching Ratt melody blaring from the cars' interior. Let us praise middle-of-the-dial AOR rock radio that combines mutually exclusive words like "Kick Ass" in on-air maxims.

Allow us to applaud all those metal mouth-breathers who once mixed dude-rock wrath with an odious fashion sense, then later tried to claim that it was an entire rock 'n' roll genre. Because in a salvo of southbounding guts, cul-de-sac hairlines and creative airbrushing comes an unsolicited cadre of rock's biggest cocks. But who cares?

Thing is, no sentimental tokens can be wrought from the MTV-spawned "metal years" now. At least nothing that could pull a commerce-driven nostalgia train strongly enough to con grown-ups into forking over for a new Ratt or Great White album. So who is going to buy these records? The kids?

Enter John Kalodner--the record-biz cheesewiz responsible for Aerosmith's transformation from noble gutter swipes to bankable corporate sycophants. Kalodner recently slid his platinum fingers into Sony's juicy quim and wrenched from it Portrait Records, a heavily moneyed version of CMC International--metal's much-mocked mortuary label. In addition to propping up cataleptics Ratt and Great White, Kalodner has also dispensed pacemakers to Pat Benatar, Cinderella, and Damn Yankees; with a huge offer for Poison still pending.

All this nearly a decade after a whir of smelly teen spirit cleansed high school notebooks of all those pesky Cinderella and Ratt logos. It's new boots and contracts for the bandanna and zebra print set!

On Ratt's sphincter-stretching latest, producer Richie Zito (Cheap Trick, The Cult) is vainly counted upon to slip clarity into the band's (three of five original members) patented Head East-meets-Manowar-meets-Guitar Institute din. The lyrics remain reprehensibly stoopid; the drums smack of colossal arena-envy; and a bevy of outside writers--who did manage to plop singy choruses on a trio of tunes--still don't help. In the end, the songs are still just sonic waste-dumps for dumb, chicks-dig-me posturing and bad guitar solos. But it's Stephan Pearcy's whiney warble on the set's requisite beef-chord lullaby "We Don't Belong" that cements the overall tone of the times, particularly on the line that contains the record's only stab at poignancy: "Still the same old song/I heard all the first time." He means it, man.

Great White is a band whose self-image is such that it probably sees its "catalogue" music stored and cherished in hipper music collections the world over, filed between The Faces and Ian Hunter.

Reality, however, finds Great White CDs sandwiched between countless Foreigner and Helix discs tossed in ratty bins with attached signs that read "Nothing Over a Buck." As both producer and co-writer on Can't Get There From Here, Damn Yankees and Night Ranger alumnus Jack Blades equips Great White's happy blues and miserable riffs with an ample supply of Desmond Child-style hackwork and "Sister Christian" sanitary pads.

"Freedom Song" is an '80s hard-rock compulsory, an on-the-road-'cause-I-gotta-keep-movin'-while-the-girl-cries-at-home dirge that rhymes "train rollin'" with "whistle blowin'."

The unironically titled "Silent Night" drags a bad Beatley bridge and a worse Stonesy verse down with it. Speaking of swipes, Ian Hunter's hearty contribution to Great White's livelihood is of little regard here as heard in "Saint Lorraine," a blatant cop of "Once Bitten, Twice Shy." Singer Jack Russell may fancy himself giving throat in some old trad blues cat kinda way, but it sounds more like those hard road nights spent covering Zep and AC/DC have caught up with him. Great White and Ratt? File under more prattle endlessly chasing its tail.

Contact Bill Blake at his online address: nttrash@yahoo.com

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