During the 80’s glam and melodic metal ruled the airwaves. For all of the bands that made it big, there were plenty of other talented bands that got lost in the shuffle. Many of them suffered from lack of promotion in a crowded market. By the end of the 80’s and into the early 90’s the genre was beginning to be flooded with so many bands that it was hard to tell who was the flavor of the week. By the early 90’s bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden had completely changed the musical landscape. The bands listed below were almost all victims of poor timing as they hit the scene just a little to late to be the next Motley Crue, Guns N’ Roses or Ratt. However, that doesn’t mean that they weren’t great, and deserve to be heard. Many of these bands are underground favs for fans of the 80’s metal scene and their music still lives on today.
Asphalt Ballet – Their debut self-titled album hit the shelves in 1991 and featured an interesting mix of hard rock, blues, southern rock, grunge and metal that actually seemed to work quite well. After an impressive outing the band had internal conflicts which lead to their second and last album entitled “Pigs”.
Bad Moon Rising – Comprised of the lead vocalist and guitarist form Lion and the bass player and drummer from Hericane Alice this band got off to a promising start. Wildly popular in Japan, they were never able to duplicate the same success in the U.S. mostly do to changing trends in music. All of the albums and E.P.’s were quality releases and are sought after by collectors to this day.
Bangalore Choir – Lead singer David Reece (Ex-Accept) hit the ground running with a spectacular debut album that suffered from the changing trend in mainstream music. The grunge / alternative movement put this album in the cut out bin in most records stores. What a shame! The band features members of Hericane Alice and later Bad Moon Rising members. Reece is phenomenal form and this is a great album for people who love melodic metal.
Baton Rouge – Another band that didn’t receive it’s fair amount of attention in the 90’s was Baton Rouge. A great hard rockin’, melodic metal band featuring the highly under-rated vocalist Kelly Keeling. The band disbanded before ever finding mainstream success.
Beggars & Thieves – This band released a great debut album with several singles that would have made them superstars just a few years earlier. However, they arrived on the scene too late to really make it big. The debut album is still sought after by collectors and is considered a hidden gem.
Blackeyed Susan – Blackeyed Susan was formed by former Britny Fox vocalist “Dizzy” Dean Davidson after his split from the band. While still hard rocking in its tone, it had a bit more of a classic rock n ‘roll style similar to the Rolling Stones. The band released the single ‘Ride With Me” to critical acclaim, but never found true success in the mainstream market.
Cry Wolf – The debut album by Cry Wolf is a great example of the glam / pop melodic metal that permeated the 80’s. However, by the time of it’s release, the scene had withered and not many people had the chance to actually hear them. They did have a video featured on MTV and have a cult following around the debut album to this day.
Electric Boys – Swedish upstarts Electric Boys took a different approach to melodic metal by merging a bit of 70’s rock and interesting rhythms to create something unique. The single “All Lips and Hips” was a minor hit, but success eluded them. The band is still active and still releases new material. (The debut album was actually released in 1989 but is included in this list because it suffered the same fate as most of the bands of this genre released after 1990)
Every Mother’s Nightmare – This band released their self-titled album in 1990 to a decent amount of success. Combining Southern charm with bluesy pop metal the band found minor success but struggled to keep afloat in the mainstream rock world with their later album releases. The band is still together and has released consistently solid material over the last few years.
Firehouse – After hitting the scene in 1990 with their debut album, Firehouse leveraged rock radio and MTV airplay to gain overnight popularity. Their second album also contained several radio hits. The band still performs and records to this day. Each album released by the band has been a solid outing and the band still draws a huge crowd for their live shows.
Freak Of Nature – After White Lion disbanded, vocalist Mike Tramp started this band and took it in a decidedly more heavier direction. While it came closer to fitting the sound of the grunge movement of the 90’s, it never found enough success to continue long term. Tramp eventually went solo and still performs and records today.
Freight Train Jane – This short-lived project by Black N’ Blue vocalist Jamie St. James was actually very good. It unfortunately never reached enough people to garner the success it deserved. Think of it as a heavier Black N’ Blue with a slightly modern twist. While it’s hard to find, collectors pay top dollar for this one.
Funny Money – After Kix disbanded, vocalist Steve Whiteman continued on with Funny Money. While similar to Kix in sound the band did develop its own personality. Another victim of wrong time and wrong place, the band eventually disbanded and Kix reformed to continue doing what they do best.
Gypsy Rose – The debut album by this band “Prey” was a solid rocker. It featured a single which garnered MTV airplay but never received steady rock airplay and unfortunately disappeared into the bargain bins. Still a great piece of melodic metal for those who can find this hidden treasure.
Hericane Alice – Here’s a band who were poised for success in the glam metal world, but the timing was just “Too Late”, referring to the great song of the same name on this album. They had the look, the sound, and a vocalist that was reminiscent of David Lee Roth, yet still came up short by arriving just a few years behind the glam metal tidal wave that marked the 80’s music scene. I highly recommend this album to anyone who loves glam metal. It’s a great addition to any collection.
Heaven’s Edge – I will probably go to my grave thinking that if the debut album by Heaven’s Edge had only been released a few years earlier, they would have been one of the biggest names is 80’s hard rock. Unfortunately, it wasn’t released until 1990, just as grunge and alternative rock were becoming all the rage. The very day that I bought this album, I must have played it at least twenty times. It’s really that good. And thanks to the shift in the musical climate at that time, it just wasn’t given the great record label support that it deserved. This album is all killer and no filler. These carefully crafted songs were well written and balanced with a few ballads that didn’t feel cheesy and full-on rockers that metalheads like me were all about. So, in essence, a complete band that you and your girlfriend could listen to without an argument. Once Play Dirty gets going, it doesn’t take long to realize that this is a killer album. Skin To Skin, Daddy’s Little Girl, and the live, acoustic-tinged, Is That All You Want are my absolute favorites, but it’s a great cohesive album that’s awesome from beginning to end. Heaven’s Edge did release a second album entitled Some Other Place Some Other Time that’s also a great testament to their sound, incredible songwriting ability and musicianship. The band still does select live concert appearances.
Holy Soldier – While most people think of Stryper when it comes to Christian metal bands, there were, however, a lot of others that deserved to be heard. Holy Soldier was one of the other bands that should have made a bigger impact but didn’t. Their debut album was really quite good and featured great melodic metal hooks. The band wasn’t on a secular label like Stryper and therefore were only available in Christian bookstores.
Kik Tracee – While Kik Tracee’s fame was short-lived, their debut album received decent airplay thanks to MTV with their cover of “Mrs. Robinson”. The album was an attempt to create a more alternative glam metal sound but never quite succeeded in finding the right audience.
Lost Boys – The Lost Boys was a spectacular band that literally slipped through the cracks. Released on Atlantic records, it featured vocalist Randy “O” from Odin and who was also featured in the film “The Decline Of Western Civilization Part 2; The Metal Years”. The music was interesting, moody and possibly a great pre-cursor to the sound bands like Alice In Chains would invoke soon after. This is a great and unique album if you can find it.
Love/Hate – Blackout In The Red Room hit in 1990 and this band seemed to have the swagger of a young AC/DC. The band received great airplay on MTV but was just another victim of bad timing in a changing musical scene. Vocalist Jizzy Pearl has since served as frontman for Ratt, L.A. Guns, and Quiet Riot among others. Without a doubt, Love/Hate was one the best of the 90’s hair metal scene.
Roxy Blue – Roxy Blue is almost infamous for not only arriving too late but for trying so hard to sound like Van Halen. While the band had musical talent and decent songwriting ability, they were often derided for being un-original.
Slaughter- After Mark Slaughter left his position as lead vocalist for the Vinnie Vincent Invasion, he started his own band, simply called Slaughter. He brought former VVI bass player Dana Strum along for the ride and the rest as they say is history. Slaughter amassed a sizable following through constant radio airplay and heavy rotation on MTV. The band went on to produce quite a few albums, all of which carried the band’s signature sound. Mark Slaughter is currently a solo artist and has released two successful solo albums to date.
Sleeze Beez – The Netherlands spawned this band who found the most success in the U.S. with their single “Stranger Than Paradise”. Their subsequent albums are actually quite good and they are a best-kept secret for melodic metal lovers. (This one is also released in 1989 but hit big in 1990)
Steelheart – Steelheart’s debut album sold quite well in 1990 thanks to airplay by MTV. But follow-up albums, although still quite good, just didn’t live up to the level of the first release. The band still records and recently released a new album to critical acclaim.
Sweet F.A. – Merely a flash in the pan, Sweet F.A. were sort of a Tesla meets Southern rock hybrid that didn’t make it on most people’s radar. However, if you like a good bar-room boogie-woogie sound mixed with hair metal, you’ll probably really like Sweet F.A.
Thunder – Thunder came from England sounding a lot like AC/DC mixed with Extreme. While they made the scene briefly, they never achieved real mainstream success. The band still records and has a great following in their home country to this day.
Trixter – The biggest problem with Trixter was they appeared to metalheads as a glam metal version of New Kids On The Block. Most people wrote them off as a boy band that was only liked by teenage girls, but in reality, the band had incredible talent and were great songwriters. If you give them a chance they actually had some good rockers on their albums and still continue to record albums periodically. Guitarist Steve Brown has filled in with Def Leppard for both Phil Collen and Vivian Campbell when needed.
Tuff – Tuff was the epitome of the 80’s glam scene. Vocalist Stevie Rachelle looked like Brett Michaels of Poison with more muscles. Rachelle’s voice was much deeper and added a darker sound to their version of glam rock but just couldn’t catch up to the rising tide of alternative rock that was taking over at the beginning of the ’90s. Tuff, however, created some great albums and should still appeal to fans of the genre.
Vain – With the release of “No Respect”, which was actually released at the end of 1989, Vain should have been superstars. They make the list because they didn’t really get known on a more mainstream level until 1990. This is a great album that received some help from MTV, but couldn’t quite garner huge success. No Respect is still a favorite of mine and their follow-up albums, including their most recent release, are all great additions to any hair metal fans collection.
Wildside – “Under The Influence” is still a great album by a band that found great success in the L.A. club scene of the late ’80s but just recorded too late. Signed by Capitol Records and touted as the next big band, they couldn’t survive the record companies abandonment of metal for alternative rock.