hair_metal_collage_mine1I love metal. If I think it’s good, I love it. I don’t care if it’s the thrashiest of thrash or the glammiest of glam. Megadeth, 3 Inches of Blood, Holy Grail? Fucking love them. Bulletboys, Poison, Cinderella? Fucking love them too. Why did glam get such a shitty rap? I mean, if you ask the average meathead Slayer or Pantera fan they would probably reply with something like, “That’s pussy music” or “Those bands are bunch of damn !” Well, I would just give that dude a natty light tall boy and go, “Hey, is that Phil Anselmo” and watch as he runs from my sights.

Glam rock/metal has a special place in my heart and don’t even try calling it “hair metal.” That is a term that I still can’t stand to this day. Back in the day, it was just called glam rock/metal. These were bands who instead of pulling from the influences of NWOBHM bands or the like, these acts were pulling influences from bands like Kiss, Alice Cooper, The Sweet, and even Cheap Trick. It’s a chunk of the hard rock/metal that I enjoyed as a young kid and that I still enjoy to this day. Now I love my Dio, my Iron Maiden, and even my Venom, Motorhead, and classic Metallica but sometimes I just felt that need to dial things down a little bit. Give myself a break and for me, some of my favorite glam metal bands were just that. These bands were some of my favorites to just help me take it down a notch but still feel like I was getting a healthy dose of rock.

Like any other genre of music, there was a lot of crappy bands in there but there were also some really great bands with great players, great singers, and even some really great and sometimes unique songs. It was a little hard for me but I decided to try and pick my 11 favorite glam metal albums. I’m sure I left a real gem out but the fact that these were the first 11 that popped into my head just prove that these albums in general made a lasting impact on me. So here we go…

Ratt – Out of the Cellar
Release Date: March 27, 1984
Highlights: Wanted Man, Round and Round, Lack of Communication, Back for More, The Morning After

Growing up in the 80’s meant it was damn near impossible to escape a Ratt Attack! Out of the Cellar is without a doubt a pennacle album and an album that holds up surprisingly well. It can get a little ridiculous at time with songs like “Scene of the Crime” and “She Wants Money” but there’s no denying the awesomeness of “Wanted Man”, “The Morning After” and even “Back for More.” “Lack of Communication” is a fucking awesome rifftastic piece of glam metal awesomeness which pretty much solidifies itself as one of Ratt’s best pieces. Out of the Cellar is every bit as fun today to listen to as it was back in ’84. It’s a nostalgic trip down memory lane for me that still brings a smile to my face and has me remembering air guitaring in my bedroom with big dreams and high hopes.

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Cinderella – Heartbreak Station
Release Date: November 20, 1990
Highlights: The More Things Change, Love’s Got Me Doin’ Time, Heartbreak Station, Electric Love, Shelter Me, Sick for the Cure, Make Your Own Way, Dead Man’s RoadOne for Rock & Roll

Cinderella really made a huge impact on me with their Heartbreak Station album which had them ditching their glammy, sleazy sound of their previous albums. It seemed like with each album the band grew up a little more with Heartbreak Station showing us a mature, grown up band. Cinderella took some major risks diving even further into their roots and bringing in an even more bluesy, Americana sound than the previous Long Cold Winter album. Heartbreak Station was still a really fun listen but it really sounded like a much more mature band and it really opened my mind up a lot by exposing me to even more acoustic based songs and dark, broody blues songs. “Shelter Me” is still one of my favorite Cinderella songs to date but it’s the title track that still tugs on my heartstrings to this day. Back when this album came out, it left a lot of their fan base scratching their heads but over 20 years later, it stands very well on its own as a classy piece of classic rock n’ roll.

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Bulletboys – Bulletboys
Release Date: September 20, 1988
Highlights: Hard as a Rock, Smooth Up In Ya, Owed to Joe, Shoot the Preacher Down, For the Love of Money, Badlands, F#9

This album is one of my all time favorites. You want to talk about lightning captured in a bottle? The first time I ever heard these guys was on Headbanger’s Ball hearing the song “Smooth Up In Ya” and I remember thinking that they were really silly looking but that the song totally kicked my ass. They kind of had this Van Halen thing going on and Marq Torien was ridiculously awesome. What a voice. “Owed to Joe” is great and cleaver “ode” to Joe Perry of Aerosmith which I still love hearing. Their cover of the R&B classic “For The Love of Money” is always a great listen and “F#9” is still one of the single greatest songs I have ever heard. This is just a really fun album and a really great listen. The musicianship on this album is outstanding and it really is chock full of great songs. I don’t know how this album got to be as underrated as it is but in my opinion, the Bulletboys made one of the greatest glam metal albums of all time with this debut. It’s a must have.

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Don Dokken – Up From The Ashes
Release Date: October 21, 1990
Highlights: Crash N’ Burn, 1,000 Miles Away, When Some Nights, When Loves Finds a Fool, Give It Up, Mirror Mirror, Stay, Down In Flames, The Hunger

Dokken were pretty much the unsung heroes of the glam metal world and in all honesty, I only really loved one album that they put out (Back for the Attack). After a really nasty breakup, Don Dokken resurfaced with an amazing band featuring former King Diamond/future Motorhead drummer Mickey Dee, Accept bassist Peter Baltes, and an amazing guitar team featuring former Europe guitarist John Norum and former Watchtower guitarist Billy White. As corny as it sounds, this is one of the most beautiful sounding albums this genre ever produced. It’s so melodic, the mix is amazing, and Don’s vocals are absolutely outstanding. It also covers a lot of basses. You get the heavy (The Hunger, Crash N’ Burn), the melodically catchy (1,000 Miles Away, When Some Nights, Stay) and an amazing ballad that was co-written with the great Glenn Hughes called “When Love Finds a Fool.” This is a total “mood” album. It totally mellows me out but and I don’t think it sounds the least bit dated. It sounds as fresh and enjoyable as it did when I first heard it over 20 years ago. This is a timeless piece of awesomeness.

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Hanoi Rocks – Bangkok Shocks, Saigon Shakes, Hanoi Rocks
Release Date: February, 1981
Highlights: Tragedy, Village Girl, Stop Cryin’, Lost in the City, Cheyenne, 11th Street Kids, Pretender

I had never heard of Hanoi Rocks until I heard news of their drummer Razzle being killed in a car wreck in 1984 while riding with Vince Neil of Motley Crue. Sometime in ’85 or so I decided to go hunt this band down and the first album I bought by them was this debut album of theirs. I remember listening to this album and thinking that it was unlike anything I had ever heard before. It sounded poppy, it sounded punk, and it just oozed attitude and sleaze. Their singer Michael Monroe was a bad ass singer and he played the saxophone which also blew my young metalhead mind. Today, this album still sounds unique and fun and the older I get, the more I could hear Hanoi Rocks’ influence in other bands like Guns N’ Roses, Faster Pussycat, and even more current bands like Buckcherry. “Tragedy” is still one of my all time favorite tunes and the intro to “Cheyenne” is pretty much the blueprint for Guns N’ Roses’ “Don’t Cry.” Hanoi Rocks was way ahead of their time and they left behind an awesome legacy of music in their wake. This album will always have a place in my heart as a timeless classic.

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Quiet Riot – Metal Health
Release Date: March 11, 1983
Highlights: Metal Health, Cum on Feel the Noize, Don’t Wanna Let You Go, Slick Black Cadillac, Run for Cover, Let’s Get Crazy

How could you not have at least once in your life owned a copy of this album? Hell, even kids who weren’t into metal back in the day had this one. Why? Because it was such a fucking great album that was probably one of the first “crossover” metal albums of our time. Metal Health is a classic album that truly stands the test of time. Some of the songs on this album don’t hold up for me but for the most part they still make me smile and wanna “bang my head.” “Metal Health” never gets old. Every time I hear that song it’s just as great as the first time I ever heard it. “Cum on Feel The Noise” was responsible for even letting me know that Slade existed and after giving them a listen wished that I could unlisten to them. “Run for Cover” sounds so much heavier than I remember it and even though the production sounds a bit dated, it is still a Summertime favorite of mine. Crank it!

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Skid Row – Slave to the Grind
Release Date: June 11, 1991
Highlights: Monkey Business, Slave to the Grind, The Threat, Quicksand Jesus, Mudkicker, Wasted Time

This is an album that never gets old. Slave to the Grind is like the Dorian Gray of metal. No matter how much time passes, it sounds youthful and flat out awesome. This album could have been recorded last week as far as I’m concerned. I just love the fuck you attitude of this album. This is the sound of a band going against the grain and making an album on their own terms. After the success of their debut album, you would think they would try and capitalize off of that. Instead, the band came out of the gates screaming with an album that is so fucking heavy that the first time I heard “Monkey Business” my jaw dropped open. “Quicksand Jesus” just may be the greatest song of Skid Row’s career as this song just nails it for me. I still get goosebumps listening to this one. “Wasted Time” is what I consider one of the single greatest album closers ever as it just leaves you feeling resolved yet wanting more. With the exception of “Get the Fuck Out”, this album is full of some of the most substantially written metal I have heard. It’s still a great listen for me and no matter how many years pass, this still holds its spot in the top tier of the great metal albums.

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Lillian Axe – Psychoschizophrenia
Release Date: August 9, 1993
Highlights: Crucified, Moonlight in Your Blood, Stop the Hate, Sign of the Times, The Needle and Your Pain, Those Who Prey, Voices in My Walls, Deep Blue Shadows, Psychoschizophrenia

Ask any fan of this genre about Lillian Axe and most will say the same thing: “Terrible band name but terribly underrated band.” Lillian Axe, to me, was always a cut above many of their peers in that the songs were for the most part much more substantial while still managing to be fun to listen to. Psychoschizophrenia, in my opinion, is Lillian Axe’s heaviest album (lyrically and musically) and it still resonates with me to this day. Guitarist Steve Blaze is a natural when it comes to writing great, metal songs full of melody and great two part harmonies. This is also the album where I felt that singer Ron Taylor made his mark as one of my all time favorite metal singers. The heaviness of songs like “Crucified”, “Deepfreeze”, and the title track and the acoustic touch of songs like “The Day I Met You” and “The Needles and Your Pain” just seem to work with each other very seamlessly and it creates this kind of up and down mood. “Moonlight In Your Blood” could have (and should have) been a huge hit for these guys with its infectioUs chorus and harmony vocals but again, these guys went terribly overlooked. Psychoschizophrenia is yet another favorite of mine that I still find enjoyment in no matter how many years pass.

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Tora Tora – Wild America
Release Date: 1992
Highlights: Wild America, Amnesia, Dead Man’s Hand, Lay Your Money Down, Faith Healer, Nowhere to Go But Down, City of Kings

File this band in the section of other awesome fucking bands that never got the attention they really deserved. Many would say that Tora Tora was a little late to the game but regardless, the band came in with their awesome debut album only to follow it up with this facemelting southern hard rock classic. Singer Anthony Corder has one of the most distinct voices leading the band through a gritty collection of blues infused metal like “Amnesia”, “Lay Your Money Down” and “Nowhere to Go But Down.” Tora Tora totally had this Cinderella/Tesla thing going on but they really set themselves apart from the pact by truly being southern (yes, Texas is the south. Get over it.) and truly having the blues in their blood. The pace gets slowed down a bit with some tasteful ballads like “As Time Goes By” and “Faith Healer” (one of the best of the era in my opinion) only to close with a bang with “City of Kings.” That song right here is how you close an album out boys and girls. With Wild America, Tora Tora made a huge bang but was only heard as a pop which is really sad. This album kicks all kinds of ass and is a must have.

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Twisted Sister – You Can’t Stop Rock N’ Roll
Release Date: June 27, 1983
Highlights: The Kids are Back, Like A Knife in the Back, I Am (I’m Me), Power and the Glory, I’ll Take You Alive, You Can’t Stop Rock N’ Roll

This album is 30 fucking years old. Un-fucking-believable. For this 10 year old kid, You Can’t Stop Rock N’ Roll was the album that I needed to hear. It filled me with confidence, it charged me up, and it made me finally feel like I wasn’t the only one out there like me. Hearing this album made me realize that I wasn’t alone and it even blew me away that “grown men” were singing about the very shit that I was feeling. Yeah, it may sound a little dated production wise but the muddiness and thickness of it just makes it that much heavier. “ The Kids are Back” still charges me up to this day and I Am (I’m Me) has me remember those days of old of being the fat, outcast, loser who was made aware of his individuality. Today, at nearly 40 years old, I still love this album. Some of the songs like “Ride To Live, Live To Ride” and “I’ve Had Enough” don’t really click with me but the title track of this album still has me singing along and pumping my fists as I sing along with it. Dee Snider will forever be one of the all time greatest frontmen in the genre without a doubt and Twisted Sister will always remain one of the all time greatest bands. Still a classic, still awesome, and still twisted! SMF for life!

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The London Quireboys – A Bit of What You Fancy
Release Date: 1990
Highlights: 7 0’Clock, Man on the Loose, Whippin’ Boy, I Don’t Love You Anymore, Hey You, Roses & Rings, There She Goes Again, Take Me Home

The easiest way to describe the Quireboys (then known as The London Quireboys) was that they were the British answer to The Black Crowes… or was it that the Black Crowes were the American answer to The Black Crowes? Regardless, the Quireboys hit the scene pretty fucking hard with their American debut “A Little Bit of What You Fancy” boasting an album that very well could’ve been a lost Rolling Stones album. Chock full of great, tasteful (and at times tasteless), nasty rock n’ roll with slide guitar and barroom piano, this album just hit a chord with me. The songs were fun and very easy on the ears and you know it was kinda cool when your dad would hear you listening to it and say, “Who is that? That sounds really good.” This album sounds just as good as it did when it first came out and it’s just proof that well crafted rock n’ roll never goes out of style. Whenever I hear this album I just can’t help but smile, roll the windows down in my car, and wink at ladies at redlights. Yeah, I’m a creeper but what can I say? Rock N’ Roll will do that to ya.

About The Author

The Brainfart

Don (aka. The Brainfart) has been a heavy metal fan since hearing it for the first time in 1983. Don is also repsonsible for all of the typos, shitty grammar, and kick ass content on this site. Don likes cheap beer, whiskey, Coca Cola Icees, going to shows, and hanging with his kick ass wife, two cats (Drusilla & Coltrane) and dog (Cassie). He originally wanted to name his dog Shandi but his wife said, "No fucking way."

As always a great column. I always thought it was unfair to include Skid Row in this genre however. Not that there’s anything wrong with the category. Also Cinderella was a Blues band before they were Glam, back in Philly. They’re definitely my fave in your picks.

AJ says:

Man, there’s lots of great rock from that era. I don’t think you can even call Slave to the Grind “glam” or “hair” or any of that, that’s just balls-out metal the way it should be played. Plus, didn’t their bassist have that crazy chain thing going from his nose piercing to his earring? That’s too metal to be glam.

Also, Dee’s cockbulge in the first few seconds of the You Can’t Stop Rock n’ Roll video is the stuff of legends. I show that to video to people all the time, it’s always good for a few laughs. Great song, too.

Art says:

I’d never even heard the term “glam” back when I was listening to this stuff, it was just “rock.” In my mind at the time, Ratt was what a rock n’ roll band was SUPPOSED to look like. They LOOKED like they owned expensive sports cars and got all the girls. The first time I saw Metallica, I thought they looked like low-budget amateurs in comparison. Weird bands look like Metallica to this day.

Recently I checked out a live Bulletboys performance on YouTube, and in hindsight, WOW were they corny. Marq Torien looks like he’s leading a Jazzercise class. Good tunes, though!

Check out Dokken’s “Without Warning -> Tooth and Nail.” One of the greatest album openings of all time!

Tora Tora and Cinderella = underappreciated.

Good article.

Steve Mutch says:

Good choices. Personally, I would have put in Lizzy Borden, either Terror Rising, or Master of Disguise, but in all, good list