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VH-1’s Metal Mania Stripped Across America Live! DVD

By Jeff Kerby, Contributor
Friday, March 3, 2006 @ 11:43 AM

On Sidewinder Records

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Imagine the S.S. Hairband gliding along a sea of blue tranquil water as it enjoys all the sun and success the late 80’s had to offer.

Then…imagine it crashing.

The survivors of said hypothetical wreck would be none other than Slaughter, Jani Lane, Great White, Winger and Alias-all of whom would be left to fend for themselves on the this uncharted isle.

Then, imagine that you and you alone has the power to cast each one off the cliff into the jaws of several man-eating sea creatures in the order in which they displease you.

Thankfully enough, I have that power.

About a year ago, VH-1 came out with the Metal Mania acoustic disc that was a pretty cool offering, and it was received well enough to justify a follow up entitled Metal Mania II The Anthems. The predecessor was doubtlessly better, but the anthem disc did have its moments. Now, what has followed is the third installment of this series-a DVD representation of the Key Club record release party last February as well as four songs taken from the recent Stripped Across America Tour and a special performance. Yep, it’s true, upon first glance, the whole collection promises to be more fun than your sister taking off her parachute pants in the back of a tour bus, but the sharks are getting restless though, so, as such, if one were to rate the seven tunes included here, the following would be the order in which they would be voted off the vaunted Isle of Acoustic Metal Mania.

The first to go would be Alias with Jason Hook. “More Than Words Can Say”. I didn’t have much use for this song the first time around, and I have even less use for it now-NEXT. Wowee!! Kip Winger actually has two of his selections from the show included here, but without a doubt “Seventeen” would have to get the gate first. This song probably never should have been done electrically-much less acoustically. It was the type of tune that you probably told all the other guys in high school that you couldn’t stand but merely tolerated in order to get some pussy. Last I knew, Kip was living in Santa Fe and trying to be taken seriously as an artist-tough sell on that one. “Madelaine” is slightly better, but it still makes an early departure. See, the primary problem with Kip’s performance as I see it is that somewhere between 1988 and now, Kip lost the famous headset-microphone that allowed him to simultaneously sing, play guitar and shake his ass from any location on the stage at any given time. You know what I’m talking about-Madonna and Garth Brooks used to rock those things too--they just weren’t as cool as Kip Mutherfuckin’ Winger. In his defense, for all the crap Kippy takes from the media such as consistently being the name on Stewart’s T-shirt on Beavis and Butthead, anyone who has seen him live can attest to the fact that the dude is talented. His major conundrum is just that he made a Faustian deal with the devil wherein he was paid out in chicks and money distributed over a relatively short period of time, but unfortunately, it has been the release of these very songs that garnered him all this fame in the first place such as “Seventeen” that have precluded him from ever truly being taken seriously as an artist.

Slaughter’s “Fly To The Angels” would have to be the next to go--not because there is anything wrong with the performance-Mark and the band sound good, but the competition is pretty stiff at this point. Well…not exactly stiff like you’re watching an Asia Carrerra video, but more like semi-flaccid like you’re playing with your sister or cousin or something. The final three choices would be “Ballad of Jayne” by L.A. Guns, Great White’s “Save Your Love” and “I Saw Red” by Jani Lane. “Ballad of Jayne” is the song that in many ways put the Gunners on the map, but…the rendition here isn’t quite as spirited as one might expect from the band. The runner up comes from Jani Lane whose “I Saw Red” features a pretty decent looking keyboard player who also sings background. Really, that fact is that even though Warrant probably catches even more hell than Winger, if one looks at it objectively, a music fan has to recognize that Jani and the boys produced some really decent ballads-of which, this one happens to be the best. The final survivor on the island is, ironically enough, the band that has persevered and had to deal with the most adverse conditions over the past couple of years, and that would be Great White. “Save Your Love” is a great tune to start with, and I don’t think I’ve ever heard Jack Russell have a bad night vocally. Hang on a second, before your little fingers start twitching and you make that all too important decision to put off looking at Asian porn for a few minutes just so you can blast these guys over the Rhode Island tragedy, understand that there is and always has been plenty of blame to go around regarding that. What I’m saying is that on the basis of this song alone, Great White would have to be considered the victor.

For the four tunes on this DVD taken from the Stripped Tour, two are from the aforementioned Jani Lane, “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” and “Cherry Pie.” Of course, “I Saw Red” was better than either of these, but Jani still needs to be given a certain degree of credit right from the start. I don’t know of too many entertainers whose career could actually be enhanced by an appearance on “Celebrity Fit Club”--but his sure as hell has been. Anyone who watched even one episode of that show had to see that it is quite evident that Jani has mastered the whole “disaffected rock star with the heart of gold” pose. That being said, he remains one of the more articulate people I’ve dealt with interview-wise. Then again, maybe after talking to Kevin Dubrow about him a couple of months before, maybe my expectations were kinda low. Hell, after that conversation with Quiet Riot’s vocalist, I was thinking this guy wouldn’t be able to string two sentences together-instead, he was extremely thoughtful and articulate.

Too bad the other two tunes from the tour and the bonus track weren’t this good. Stephen Pearcy and Firehouse each make an appearance here chucking a couple of nut-filled turds onto an otherwise highly enjoyable DVD. For starters, Pearcy’s “Back For More” was just shockingly inept. Hang on a minute; what I really meant to say is that it sucks more dick than your mom in the landlord’s office each month when the rent is due. Pearcy’s voice sounds like only one strained chord holds it together while the guitarist next to him has a hairdo that implies he might be one of System of A Down’s retarded long lost brothers. I don’t even think he got the lyrics right. As for Firehouse, at least Pearcy and Ratt have some semblance of a legacy to justify their inclusion here. These guys should tour with Alias on the Who The Fuck Are These Guys Tour. I mean, c’mon…”Don’t Treat Me Bad”? What the hell is that? Begging chicks not to be mean to you while supposedly playing the role of misogynistic rock star is beyond unbecoming-it’s just sad.

Finally, we get to the “special performance” which features none other than Mike Tramp of White Lion pseudo-fame singing “When The Children Cry.” Oh hell. This song was terrible. This song was always f’n terrible. Judas Priest could record this song and it would still be terrible. As a matter of fact, Jessica Alba could sing this song to you naked while rubbing your diminutive ballsack and it would still be absolutely atrocious. Remember the video where Mike is sitting on the merry go round? Listen here--an adult hanging out on a merry go round without a kid of their own equals a ped’s wet dream. Please, I’d rather hear Mr. Big than this, and I hated that shit too.

For the staunch metal purist, the twelve songs that comprise this disc basically represent what was for many the beginning of the end. The problem with taking such an austere look at what occurred in the 80’s though is that if one takes what happened then too seriously, they have to have missed the fact that these songs were primarily about chicks and partying because the scene itself was primarily about chicks and partying. In all honesty, it’s actually pretty cool to see these guys still up there and performing regardless of whether or not it is because they are broke or maybe still hopelessly clinging to some semblance of a career. The fact is that if a guy or girl who lived in that era decides to go to a show or check out this DVD, although it may not prove to be a completely transformational experience, it would still serve as proof that one of the best musical scenes of the last fifty years isn’t gone for good….hell, on second though, maybe they should all get to stay on the island-even Alias….nah.


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