10. Kiss – Crazy Nights
Fine, by this point they were going through the exact same motions they had gone through on their previous five releases, and the “cracked mirror” look of the cover was about as menacing as drummer Eric Carr after a round of chemo, but they still didn’t have to mock us mere mortals with the uber-ballad “Reason to Live.” The video is even worse. Here are four millionaires – two of whom get more pussy on accident than most of us ever will in a thousand lifetimes – telling all of us who are working for shitty wages, being underwhelmed in bed, and living in sad anonymity that we should buck up and live life to its fullest. Yes, this pro-life plea is shoehorned between buxom blondes in bath tubs, towels, and assorted bikinis. Glad you could spare the empathy, fellas. Other than that, it’s the sort of album that was written, arranged, and laid down in the limo on the way to the studio.
9. Coven – Blessed is the Black
Any album that features an ode to the mass murder at a San Ysidro, California McDonald’s can’t be half bad, so instead, it goes all the way to shitty without pause. The cover was far too obvious to be effective, and how daring is it, anyway, to attempt to gut religion’s hypocrisies while screeching in the track “Iron Dick,” that “it’s as long as my arm and five times as thick?” In all, it’s cheap, dime store Satanism, with crude shock added to keep the suburban kids happy. The genuinely disturbing should never have to try this hard, especially when you are forced to say, “She who spreads is she who dies.” The music, predictably, is a mess; amateur hour crossed with the ethic of a drunken garage band.
8. Ratt – Reach for the Sky
Ratt was always reliably workmanlike throughout the Sad Decade, and between monster bands, always managed to put out passable material. But with this disaster, the honeymoon ended with great force, all on the back of one of the era’s worst cuts, “Way Cool Jr.” It was impossible to fantasize about being a hair metal god while saxophone notes kept intruding, and it was far too upbeat to come home to after a hard day avoiding ass-kickings and unspoken rejections. And then “I Want a Woman” comes on, whining endlessly about the sort of chick that isn’t to be fucked, smacked around, and dumped from a speeding tour bus. What happened to wanting to prey upon barely legal brace-faces with self-esteems so close to the breaking point that a few ounces of ejaculate would send them careening into the pages of Go Ask Alice?
7. Accept – Eat the Heat
Accept? Without Udo? The sheer arrogance alone – unparalleled until Judas Priest gave it a shot without Rob Halford – is enough to send this release to the bargain bin, but the music itself justified every fear. Without Udo’s scrotum-slicing squeal sending young people through the shattered windows of their dank rooms, Accept becomes an emasculated joke; just another heavy metal outfit without a reason to be. Not one song remains memorable, and the main cut – “Generation Clash” – is so low-key and restrained that we wonder if anyone bothered to plug in their instruments. The video is just as bizarre, as some misunderstood teenager shaves his head like Corey Feldman in Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter, for no legitimate reason that we can discern. At least in Twisted Sister’s version of the teen anthem, dad was an aggressive, Marine-like jerk who had that power chord coming to him. Here, pop’s greatest crime appears to be asking the lad to make it to dinner on time.
6. Ace Frehley – Frehley’s Comet
Kiss’ original ugly motherfucker achieves rock immortality with an album far, far worse than even the worst effort by his former band. From the dreadful, monotonous “Rock Soldiers” to the unendurable “Dolls”, Ace never seems to give a shit about simple craftsmanship, and instead believes that a pseudo-clever album name is enough to keep the critics quiet. I got this album from Columbia House back in high school and even then, when I was literally buying everything that featured a guitar, I was disgusted. Hell, I didn’t bother to take this to the used record store where I was assured of at least $1 back on my investment – I simply chucked it out the window of my puke green truck while driving to get something just as loathsome, likely the new Britny Fox or something. This prick has been on my personal death list for two decades and yet, he still stands.
5. Dangerous Toys – Dangerous Toys
Axl Rose-like squawks in service of songs about Alice Cooper, nasty canines, and stompin’ around in leather boots are one thing, but they fade when the entire album can be reduced to the single track “Sport’n a Woody.” Hearken back to the teenage years for a moment and imagine there’s a song about sex, erections, zippers coming undone, and chicks who exist only to eat cock willingly, that is when they aren’t being seduced with liquor and violently raped, as in these lines:
Don’t know what I’m gonna do, can’t stop looking at you
Cause you’re sure lookin’ nice to me
Well I wish you were sedated
So I could at least penetrate you
For an hour, maybe three….yeah!
The profound misogyny I can handle. Hell, I’m even okay with the imagery. But why the superfluous “yeah?” Now that’s just sloppy writing. Otherwise, the references to “working girl butts” and “corner sluts” make perfect sense. Indeed, this represents the second time I masturbated to a record, coming several months after G n’ R’s lustful “Rocket Queen.”
4. Europe – The Final Countdown
Keyboards were an increasingly annoying trait of 80s metal as it wound down towards oblivion, but whenever said Casios were in service of power ballads and half-hearted love songs to Native peoples, they became handmaidens of evil. “Cherokee”, one of the era’s first attempts to crash the party with social relevance, seemed important at the time, but after each increasingly disappointing spin, I forgot about our red brothers altogether, much like the rest of the country under Ronnie’s reign. I tried to rationalize this sappy, chick-like effort, but my budding – and unused – manhood wouldn’t allow it. Babes were always about objectification, rejection, and penetration (for chaps like me, only of the forced variety); never joining in our air guitar fantasies.
3. Judas Priest – Turbo
An admitted failure on all counts, this dreadful disc was Priest’s attempt to hit the mainstream, apparently believing that keyboards, stadium anthems, and videos featuring shirtless fat fucks running after Twinkies (“Locked In”) were the shortest roads to success. Even “Parental Guidance”, a tune that should have inspired disaffected teens to rise up and slay their parents worldwide, came off as cheesy and worst of all, unbearably preachy. And I’ll never understand “Turbo Lover” or what the fuck they were doing defending Libertarian ethics (“Private Property”). Priest always hit below the belt, in the gut, and upside the head; here, they put on a little nail polish and went to the mall with the girls. Thankfully, they went back to phallocentrism once again with their next pounding release.
2. Winger – Winger
It takes big, sweaty, vein-laden balls to release the most offensive cover song in the history of music, but here it is: Jimi Hendrix, safely tucked in the ground away from further harm, never heard Kip Winger’s interpretation of “Purple Haze”, which is one of the few good things to result from his drug-induced death. Taking a revolutionary slice of a distinct era and wringing it dry of all passion, spontaneity, and relevance surely qualifies the chest hair king for some sort of heinous torture, but then he also manages to make sex with underage chicks seem rote, almost uninspired. Everything else on this chick magnet reeks of the heartfelt; quiet longing and exchanging puppy dog glances in the rain, which never, ever appealed to a genuine rocker. And whenever Kip appeared in a video, he insulted us further by holding a guitar in the midst of his ballerina impersonations, as if he knew what the fuck to do with the thing.
1. Def Leppard — Hysteria
This, not Nirvana’s rise, or Metallica’s run for the corporate suite, was the Day the Music Died. I had been a fan of Pyromania back in grade school, but then that half-naked drummer lost his precious arm, bad-ass attitude became torn, acid-washed jeans, and before I knew it, 90% of their concerts were populated by suburban chicks who also proudly displayed Paula Abdul in their record collections. This was one for the ladies to be sure, and every dude who loved this album in high school was either trying to score with one of these women, or was the type who lifted weights during lunch. Every song drips along wearing its vagina on its sleeve, and “Pour Some Sugar On Me” quickly became the bane of my already bleak existence, largely because I didn’t have any fucking clue what they were yammering about. There isn’t a risky or challenging note to be found, and this helped popularize a previously tawdry art form that had always about poor record sales, alienation, and the reduction of women to the sum total of their efforts in sleazy back alleys. Fortunately, their guitarist Steve Clark later dropped the fuck dead.