Gypsy Rose – Prey (1990)
If you blinked, you missed ’em. It’s too bad because Gypsy Rose’s Prey was a pretty fine piece of hair metal machinery. Led by Canadian vocalist Michael Ross, Gypsy Rose were signed by none other than Gene Simmons and his Simmons Records label (part of RCA). At the time the band was called Secret Affair. After a name change to Gypsy Rose, the band released Prey in 1990. They released just one video for the song Poisoned By Love before the rug was pulled out from under them. According to this interview with Ross in 2012, RCA dropped Simmons Records about two months after Prey was released, which pretty much left Gypsy Rose and Prey to rot on the vine.
As mentioned above, Poisoned By Love was the band’s fist and only video single. It’s a pretty good song but I would have picked Make Me Do Anything You Want as the lead single because, quite frankly, it rules. Great song! My other favorites include the hypnotic stomper Crawlin’, the driving rocker Highway-One-Way, and the sincere ballad Don’t Turn Your Back On Me Now. In fact, except for the song Blood ‘N’ Sweat (which goes nowhere) every song on Prey is worthy of salute. My score: A-
Liege Lord – Master Control (1988)
I’ve read some high praise for Liege Lord’s third and final album Master Control (Metal Blade Records). However, I’m not really all that impressed. Though I will admit that I think Master Control is better than Liege Lord’s first two albums.
Liege Lord brought a new singer by the name of Joe Comeau in to replace Andy Michaud. This was a big improvement. Comeau’s voice was like a cross between Bruce Dickinson and David DeFeis (Virgin Steele). Stylistically the band leaned much more towards Virgin Steele’s proud brand of power metal — though not nearly as glorious. They also added touches of thrash to their sound, something not really present on their previous records. One of the more tangible reasons I’m not that taken with Liege Lord’s sound has to do with Frank Cortese’s somewhat jarring drumming style. He just doesn’t seem to have much groove to his playing. One positive takeaway from Master Control is the band’s raging cover of Rainbow’s Kill The King. My score: C+
Defiance – Product Of Society (1989)
Product Of Society was produced by Jeff Waters of Annihilator. In my book, that gives the album a fair bit of credibility from the jump. But unfortunately Defiance weren’t in the same league as Annihilator. I will say this: these Oakland thrashers were pretty capable riff doctors. They lined ’em up in rows and then let ’em tumble like dominoes. But the sequencing of their riffs were kind of random. They might as well have been pulling them out of a hat for all I know. This kind of songwriting, unfortunately, was not unique to Defiance. There were lots of records like this — technically sound for sure, but not much more. At the end of the day Product Of Society is straightforward thrash with a crisp sound and a solid crunch. But the singing is average (at best) and the songwriting is barely there. My score: C
Cinderella – Heartbreak Station (1990)
It’s almost as if Cinderella’s Tom Keifer used glam metal as a Trojan horse to get his foot in the door of the industry. It certainly worked, as Cinderella’s first two albums were major hits. So for album number three, it seems Keifer and Cinderella had earned themselves a little bit of artistic leeway to try something a bit different. Keifer’s real passion, it seems, was blues rock. With Heartbreak Station, it became abundantly clear that Keifer’s taste for southern-fried blues was in full bloom. There’s slide guitars, lap steels, the jingle-jangle of pianos, and even cowbells. The problem is that Keifer didn’t real put any original twist on these songs. Instead, he just created a collage of well-worn southern rock and blues devices ripped directly from the records that influenced him. This is really apparent with the derivative lyrics on Heartbreak Station. When Keifer sings of picking up his gee-tar and playing, or of sitting on his daddy’s knee, or his po’ boy heart breaking — you have to almost laugh. Dude was born in Pennsylvania and spent the last five years of his life wearing more make up than Tammy Fay Bakker for Christ’s sake! Now he wants us to picture him twanging on the front porch with an ol’ hound dog by his side? How can we possibly take him seriously?
Putting the questionable motives aside for a moment and looking at Heartbreak Station from a purely musical perspective, I will concede the album has some good songs. The familiar chord progressions we find on tracks Shelter Me and One For Rock And Roll make them immediately accessible. The title track is another fave. I cannot say, however, that Heartbreak Station is better than Long Cold Winter (1988) — that album had at least two serious gems in Gypsy Rose and Don’t Know What You Got (Till It’s Gone). Heartbreak Station doesn’t have any songs to rival those — and the album really falls off the shelf on side two thanks to some less-than-stellar filler like Love Gone Bad and Electric Love. My score: B
Turbo – Last Warrior (1988)
When most metal fans hear the word “turbo” they probably think of the Judas Priest’s Turbo — a dumpster fire of an album released in 1986. But Turbo is also the name of a long-running metal band out of Poland. They’ve been around since the early eighties and have released lots of albums in the Polish language (whatever that is) as well as a handful in English. Last Warrior was one of the English albums. It was released in 1988 by Noise Records. Last Warrior was the English language version of Turbo’s 1987 album Ostatni Wojownik.
Last Warrior features seven cuts of very heavy technical thrash — though the songs flow pretty well. There’s not a whole lot of vocals on the album, but what vocals it does have are of the savage, discordant type (think Kreator). Fortunately, the caustic, foul vocals aren’t really a showstopper for me… oh wait, yes they are. My score: C