Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Warrant Return Strong With Rockaholic

The 80s were a time of big hair and big fun. No band epitomized that better in the latter part of that decade than Warrant. They seemed to have it all. They made us rock with their anthems and we made out to their power ballads. Grunge came along like a huge meteor and wiped out “hair metal” as we knew it. Still, many bands marched on. Warrant had more than their share of bad luck with tours being canceled for various reasons and so many personnel changes that they almost had to wear name badges.

Well my fellow head bangers, Warrant is back stronger than ever and seemed poised to let a whole new generation discover the “down boys”. It’s been five years since their last release Born Again. In that time, we saw the lead singer of that album (Jaime St. James, Black-n-Blue) leave, former lead singer Jani Lane return and then exit and current lead singer Robert Mason enter the picture. They were just a few drumsticks short of having a Spinal Tap moment.

Their new release entitled Rockaholic has taken all the great elements that we expect from Warrant and seasoned them with a certain level of maturity. Don’t fret though, even though the “down boys” have become somewhat settled down boys, they still have their raunchy, bad boy side. Take a listen to “Sex Ain’t Love” and “Cocaine Freight Train” and tell me that their horns aren’t showing.

It just wouldn’t be a Warrant album if there weren’t any power ballads on it. One listen of the beautiful ballad “Home” and you will be waiving your lighters high in the air. This song just oozes 80s from beginning to end. I almost thought it was a lost demo from the Cherry Pie sessions. “Tears in the City” is another great ballad, but with more of a modern feel to it than an 80s feel.

“Dusty’s Revenge” is a standout track with a bluesy feel to it in the vain of early Cinderella. On my first listen, I almost felt like it was the accompanying music to a trailer for a western movie. “Life’s a Song” is a great choice for a leadoff single and video. It has that trademark Warrant sound, but it sounds fresh and current. It’s a great song, with great lyrics and a stellar performance by Robert. Oh yeah, it is also complete with a guitar solo. YES! Thank you for bringing back the solo!

Another favorite track of mine is “What Love Can Do”. I think that this song is going to be one that takes on its own life. It’s another great example of being a complete song with great musicianship, great lyrics and a catchy chorus that hooks you in. This may just become a big hit for them, especially if the fans embrace it.

So I hear you asking me, “Hey Johnny, we know they have ballads, but can Warrant still rock with the big boys?” Well ladies and gentlemen of the jury; let me present exhibits A, B and C. I have previously mentioned “Sex Ain’t Love” and “Cocaine Freight Train”; both of which showcase the boys in rare form of maximum rock. I would like to add “The Last Straw” to that list and raise my horns high to them for a kick-ass performance that blew me away.

I have been a fan of this band from the start, but I have also been an objective fan too. I believe the band has put out some stellar material and some not so great material in the past. I was cautiously optimistic when I approached this new release. I knew of Robert Mason, but how was his vocal style going to mesh with the sound we expect from the band. Well, I tip my hat to you Mr. Mason for a job well done. Let’s forget about filing someone else’s shoes because you my friend have brought your own new pair of shoes to mark their place in this bands legacy.

The rest of the band is playing with a hunger that hasn’t been heard in quite a few years. They seemed to be more focused and driven than ever. I can’t say for certain if the addition of Robert has brought this band closer and tighter together or not, but something has them recharged.

This CD is solid from beginning to end and that is what a band is being forced to do these days with the state that the music industry is in. There has been no “traditional” toured announced yet, but there are spotty dates announced so far with Poison for the summer, plus M3 and Rocklahoma. I cannot wait to hear this new material performed live. There is no cure for being a Rockaholic, but you can point the finger of blame at Warrant for causing it. Let me be the first to say, thank you boys.

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