Monday, February 02, 2004

#84) Warrant - Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinking Rich (released in 1989, I found a copy on CD at a local store's closing sale that was two bucks BEFORE the half-price cutback. My joy over the find is tempered by the injustice of its lack of appreciation)

I have every reason to believe that this album is the apex of '80s pop-metal, in part because I can't imagine any of the other possible suspects could create such a consistently inspired burst of fun, nay, of LOVE. Not just one type of love either: romance, material love, sex, friendship, camraderie, pride in one's heritage - it's all here, along with Bon Jovi-worthy melodies goosed by a raunchier bounce, better hooks and a sense of humor that would made Bon Scott grin wide with admiration. Poison et al seem almost workman-like in comparison - this is the only uncut joie de aquanet I've ever heard.

The album opens on an absurdly trippy note, with Arthur Lee-worthy lyrics about 32 pennies in ragu jar and letting your shadow lead, not to mention an "ooh ooh" hook so playfully sexual that anyone concerned about their masculinity will immediately leave the room (good!). The comic raunch of "So Damn Pretty" (which should leave Jack Black foaming with jealousy) might offend kneejerk prudes, but at least bandleader Jani Lane rhymes "down on your knees" with "pretty pretty please" rather than "you're my favorite disease" (HI, Nickelback googlers!). Plus the awe-inspiring sympathy of "Sometimes She Cries" reaffirms that hedonistic glee isn't all Jani Lane is about. It may seem contradictory that the guy who wants to wear exotic furs on his feet in the title track later claims that he and the city don't mix on "In The Sticks," but, damn, he's just trying to give both sides of his internal dilemmas equal (and enthusiastic) time. Frankly, his appreciation for visceral, physical thrills helps make his sentimental side seem all the more genuine - he's less awesomely bombastic than David Lee Roth, but he's also less of a cartoon. "Down Boys," which might have been my favorite track just for that chiming riff alone, reminds me of my adolescent excitement about going to hipster hideouts but features none of the awkward self-consciousness such situations would inspire. I wish I'd been humming this number to myself in high school rather than whatever Lou Barlow mewl was bouncing around my noggin at the time (or at least I wish I'd had time for both back then).

Back in elementary school, me and my friends had no time for the inescapable humble weeper "Heaven," but we were prepubescent and far too aware of our geekiness to identify with these crotchrockets. These days the song leaves me misty-eyed and wondering why all the post-pubescent intellectuals assumed these guys were dumber than Robyn Hitchcock. Judging by the enthusiastic reception from pals who've heard DRFSR, I think Warrant is deserving of a Pinkerton-style reappraisal. That I can't find a copy of Cherry Pie or their later work anywhere in town reaffirms that the death (or at least shaming) of pop-metal might be one of the worst things to happen to rock ever.

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