One of XS ROCK’s most popular articles has been our article on 25 Great Hard Rock Albums Of The ’80s That You Might Have Missed.
So popular in fact, that we now present the second round of “Great Hard Rock Albums Of The ’80s That You Might Have Missed
During the 80’s hard rock ruled the airwaves. Quiet Riot’s Metal Health became the first #1 metal album of all time. Soon after the scene exploded with bands like Motley Crue, Guns N’ Roses, Dokken, Ratt, Warrant, Poison, and many more. Unfortunately, for every success story, there were great bands that got overlooked, suffered from poor promotion, or simply imploded on their own. If you’re a true 80’s rock fan, you’ve probably heard at least some of these bands, and if you’re like me, you bought all of these albums. But for those of you who didn’t….here’s a list of more of the greatest albums that you might have missed…
Banshee came from the Midwest part of the USA, in the Kansas City area. And while their image was right in line with the glam/hair metal scene at the time, musically the band had more a power metal sound. Race Against Time was Banshee’s debut full-length album, which was released on Atlantic Records in 1989 and was a great showcase for their sound which incorporated melody with power metal. The debut album was the only release the band released through Atlantic. The band is still around and has released several albums in recent years, albeit, with a more modern metal sound.
Baton Rouge technically released their debut album “Shake Your Soul” in 1990, but it’s included here because it reflects the band’s earlier material. The band originally started in 1986 with Kelly Keeling handling the vocals after switching from the guitar. Keeling would later go on to record and perform with King Kobra, MSG, John Norum, George Lynch, and many others. Baton Rouge released three critically albums “Shake Your Soul”, “Lights Out In The Playground” and “Baton Rouge” before calling it a day.
By The Time Beau Nasty released “Dirty But Well Dressed” in 1989, the glam/hair metal scene was starting to fade. That’s a shame for Beau Nasty because the band showed real potential. With a sound similar to Britny Fox, the band produced some great songs including the album opener “Shake It”, “Piece Of The Action” and “Love Potion #9”.
Black Sheep fronted by Willie Basse released their debut album “Trouble In The Streets” in 1985 on Enigma Records. The band is famous for having more than a few members that would go onto greater fame in other bands including Paul Gilbert (Racer X, Mr. Big), Slash (Guns N’ Roses), Randy Castillo (Ozzy Osbourne, Lita Ford, Motley Crue) and James Kottak (Kingdom Come, Scorpions). While the production seems a bit hollow on this album, it’s a rarity to even find it anywhere these days.
Another band to unfortunately release their debut album at the end of the glam/hair metal era was Cats In Boots. Vocalist Joel Ellis provided a gritty vocal style and the guitarist and bassist were from the Japanese metal band Seiki Matsu, now known as Seikima. The band’s sound was sleazy and brought to mind a more raw sound of bands like early Motley Crue, Vain, Faster Pussycat, and other sleaze bands. The album was released on EMI in 1989 and critics and fans both seemed to like it, but the scene was changing rapidly and Cats In Boots style was no longer being favored with the arrival of grunge.
The D’Molls featured Desi Rexx on vocals, bassist Lizzy Valentine, guitarist S.S. Priest (Diamond Rexx), and Billy Dior on drums. They released their debut album in 1988 on Atlantic Records. The band got their video for “777” featured on MTV, but it did little to sell more copies of the album. The band would go on to release two more albums “Warped” (1990) and Beyond D’Valley Of D’Molls (1997).
Diamond Rexx is a unique band. The band seemingly combines glam metal, sleaze, and punk all into one unified sound. That uniqueness may also be their Achilles heel. Admittedly, the mixture of sounds might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it was good enough to get them signed to Island Records in 1986. The band comes from Chicago which also contributes to the fact that they sound different than a lot of the other glam bands that were flooding the L.A. music scene at the time. The band released the following albums, Rated Rexx (1990), Golden Gates (1991), Rexx Erected (2001), The Evil (2002), and are set to release a new album in 2020 called Psycho Ward.
Girl is famous for having two members that went on to be in successful bands in the 80s. Frontman Phil Lewis would later go on to be the vocalist for L.A. Guns and guitarist Phil Collen would find fame with Def Leppard. While the band only released two studio albums before breaking up, Sheer Greed (1980) and Wasted Youth (1982) they left a lasting impression and had a significant impact on the future work of Lewis and Collen. The song “Hollywood Tease” from Girl’s Sheer Greed album would reappear on the self-titled L.A. Guns album.
Gypsy Rose was one of the first bands to sign to Gene Simmons’ record label. This Canadian band released two singles, “Poisoned By Love” and “Don’t Turn Your Back On Me Now” from their debut album “Prey” and garnered them a growing fanbase. While the band disbanded when the height of the glam metal era began to fade, vocalist Michael Ross returned with solo material and has also returned with a new lineup of Gypsy Rose. The band has since released several albums with FNA Records.
Hawk was the band founded by Doug Marks, which you may remember from all of the 80’s Metal magazine ads for his “Metal Method” Guitar Lessons. Members of Hawk included: Doug Marks (MetalMethod.com), Scott Travis (Judas Priest), Charles Morrill (Charlie Wayne Morrill), Lonnie Vencent (Bullet Boys), David Fefolt, and Matt Sorum (Guns ’N Roses). The band imploded due to personal differences after releasing only one studio album. However, that self-titled Hawk album remains a hard to find classic metal album.
Australian band Heaven released three studio albums “Bent”(1982), “Where Angels Fear to Tread” (1983), and “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” (1985). The band toured the U.S. under support for their single and video for “Rock School” and picked up news fans. However, they never seemed to break through to the mainstream U.S. metal audience. Early on their sound was closer to that of AC/DC but on later albums went in a more commercial, radio-friendly version. Fans regard all of their albums as quality releases and they are still collected heavily by metal fans. In 2015, vocalist Allan Fryer died after a lengthy battle with cancer.
Heavy Pettin is a Scottish band that released its debut “Lettin Loose” in 1983. The band’s sound was often similar to that of early Def Leppard material. They seemed to be a band on the rise with the release of their second album “Rock Ain’t Dead”(1985) but their sound became more commercial and keyboard-heavy by the time they released “Big Bang” in 1989. Melodic metal fans still seek out all three albums and recently the band has re-formed to release a new EP called 4Play.
HSAS, which stands for Hagar, Schon, Aaronson, and Shrieve was a one-off project that allowed Journey guitarist Neal Schon to work with Sammy Hagar. The supergroup’s only album was “Through The Fire” and was actually recorded on several live dates and then re-edited in the studio to remove the crowd noise. It was then released as a studio album. Neal Schon returned to Journey and Sammy Hagar recorded V.O.A. afterward which lead to the huge hit single “I Can’t Drive 55” and subsequently lead to his joining Van Halen after the band split with David Lee Roth. While HSAS was a small snapshot in time, the album produced some really great songs, and both Schon and Hagar definitely had interesting band chemistry together.
Le Mans was an underrated band that released two albums and featured original Enuff Z’ Nuff guitarist Derek Frigo. Their first release “On The Streets”(1983) was straight ahead classic-sounding heavy metal with a glam look, but the band quickly went to a much softer overall sound for their second album, simply titled Le Mans (1986). The band was obviously trying for radio airplay and MTV attention with the more commercial material, but it failed to materialize into anything longterm. The band briefly featured Randy Castillo (Ozzy Osbourne, Lita Ford, Motley Crue) and Leonard Haze (Y&T).
Former Riot vocalist Rhett Forrester released three solid solo albums “Gone With The Wind”(1984), “Even The Core (1988) and “Hell Or Highwater (1996). The latter being released as a memorial album. Rhett Forrester replaced Riot vocalist Guy Speranza on the “Restless Breed”(1982) album. Forrester was also featured on the Live EP “Riot Live” (1982) and “Born In America (1983). Riot split up briefly and Forrester would eventually embark on a solo career following several well-known collaborations. Tragically, Forrester was shot and killed in an attempted carjacking in Atlanta Georgia in 1994.
Rose Tattoo was a major influence on Guns N’ Roses, so much so, that GNR recorded two of their songs for their “Live Like A Suicide” EP release. While the band started in 1976, they didn’t release their first album 1978. By the time “Assault & Battery” was released in 1981 the band had developed a reputation as bar-room brawlers and a real rock band with street-level credibility. Their sound was somewhat similar to that of another Australian band, AC/DC, The band has reformed several times over the years with different lineups and most recently released the album “Outlaws”(2020). Original guitarist Mick Cocks died of liver cancer in 2009.
Sea Hags were a San Franciso based band that showed up at the end of the era of glam metal with their self-titled album in 1989. The band had actually started in 1985, but the band struggled with both time and finances to record an album until 1989. The Sea Hags had a bluesy sleaze metal sound that resonated with listeners but just came along at the wrong time. Guitarist Frank Wilsey would later join Stephen Pearcy in the bands Arcade and Nitronic.
Detroit rockers Seduce were pushed into the spotlight in the movie “The Decline Of Western Civilization Part Two: The Metal Years”. The band released their self-titled debut album in 1985. The band was interviewed and performed their song “Crash Landing” in the documentary “The Decline Of Western Civilization Part Two: The Metal Years”. Seduce released a second album “Too Much Ain’t Enough” in 1988 and it was well-liked by fans and critics alike. Seduce broke up in 1991. The two full-length albums are still highly sought after by metal record collectors and the band has achieved a cult following their movie appearance in Penelope Spheeris’ documentary.
Shark Island debuted their major label album “Law Of The Order” in 1989 for Epic Records. Prior to this album release, the band was known around the L.A. music scene simply as “The Sharks”. The band was a regular on the Sunset Strip but failed to turn their success in the clubs into successful album sales. While “Law Of The Order” was well received by the bands’ fans it simply didn’t get much promotion because of the changing musical climate. Shark Island has since reformed with different lineups and released the albums “Gathering Of The Faithful” (2006) and the critically acclaimed “Bloodline” in 2019.
Swedish glam metalers “Shotgun Messiah” impressed a lot of people with their trashy, sleaze sound on their self-titled debut in 1989. The band was originally called Kingpin but changed their name to Shotgun Messiah with their sights set on the L.A. Music scene. Original vocalist Zinny J. Zan left the band one year after the debut album and Bassist Tim Tim (Tim Skold) took over vocal duties. The band released the albums Second Coming (1991), I Want More EP (1992), and Violent New Breed (1993). Tim Skold would later go on to join industrial rockers KMFDM and perform with Marilyn Manson as well as a solo artist with his own band SKOLD. Original vocalist Zinny J. Zan released a solo album and two albums with his band The Zan Clan. Rumors have swirled recently that Tim Skold may be planning to reform Shotgun Messiah.
Silent Rage released their debut album “Shattered Hearts” in 1987 The band scored a minor hit with the song “Rebel With A Cause”. Unfortunately, in 1987 there was a significant amount of competition for attention among bands, and Silent Rage suffered from a limited amount of promotion. The band followed up “Shattered Hearts” with “Don’t Touch Me There” in 1989. And while it was a hit with fans, it was a little too late to gain the attention of mass record buyers as the scene was moving toward grunge and alternative rock. Silent Rage released a third album called “Still Alive” in 2002.
Sound Barrier broke the color barrier in heavy metal by being one of the first metal bands to have all black members. Formed in 1980, the band was started by Bernie K. And Spacey T. who had originally met in a funk band. The band released the album “Total Control” in 1983. The debut album only sold 12,000 copies and they were dropped by MCA records for lack of sales. The band released “Speed Of Light” (1986) after signing with Metal Blade Records. However, the band split up a year later. Vocalist Bernie K went on to sing on the critically acclaimed “Fire In The Rain” album by guitar virtuoso Alex Masi. The band briefly reformed and released the single “I’m Just A Man” in 2017 on Tom Morello’s (Rage Against The Machine) Firebrand Records.
TKO released “In Your Face” in 1984. Raspy voiced vocalist Brad Sinsel gave the band a decidedly heavier sound, while still being melodic. The band had a raw “street” sound that provided a sleazy hard rock sound mixed with classic heavy metal. The band based out of Seattle, signed with Combat Records and later released the album “Below The Belt” for Roadrunner Records in 1986. Vocalist Brad Sinsel went on to front the band “War Babies” which released their only album in 1992 and had a minor hit with the song “Hang Me Up”.
Tuff Luck was a really talented band that fell victim to not being able to land a big record contract. The band was based in South Florida and were drawing thousands of people to their local shows. they did however release one album for Ann Boleyn’s New Renaissance Records. The album is still sought after by collectors and fetches top dollars in auctions. The self-titled album had some great tracks like “Sleaze if you Please”, “Take It or Leave It” and “Tonight, Tonight”. The band released a second album in 1993 but it failed to capture the spirit of the original album. A documentary DVD was also filmed showing the bands struggles that kept them from reaching the top of charts alongside bands like Dokken, Ratt and Motley Crue.
Waysted, released their debut album “Vices” in 1983 on Chrysalis Records. The band features former UFO bassist Pete Way, as well as Fin Muir on vocals, Ronnie Kayfield on lead guitar, Paul Raymond on rhythm guitar, and Frank Noon on drums. After Vices, the band released Waysted – EP (1984), The Good the Bad the Waysted (1985), Save Your Prayers (1986), Wilderness of Mirrors (2000), You Won’t Get Out Alive (2000), Back from the Dead (2004), The Harsh Reality (2007), and Totally Waysted (2008). The band received another shot at stardom in the U.S. with the album “Save Your Prayers” which featured future Tyketto vocalist Danny Vaughan. “Save Your Prayers” had a more commercial radio-friendly appeal to the sound but also failed to sell a large number of albums with limited promotion.
Don’t forget to check out the first article in this series here: https://xsrock.com/25-great-hard-rock-albums-of-the-80s-that-you-might-have-missed/
You might also like these articles as well: https://xsrock.com/25-great-hair-bands-that-debuted-in-the-90s/ and https://xsrock.com/top-15-christian-metal-bands-of-the-80s/