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A Beginner's Guide To Heavy Metal #7 - Hair/Glam Metal

Updated on December 29, 2013

Pretty In Sleaze

With it's giant puffed out hair crisp and crunchy with hair spray, lip stick smeared faces and tight leather clothing, it's easy to see why this is one of the most mocked movements in rock. Whenever someone mentions 80s rock, I can say almost complete certainty that all of your minds go straight to hair metal. And while it is an era rife for mockery, to deny that there was a great deal of high quality hard rocking music to come out of it that more than makes up for the ridiculousness of the attire would be completely ludicrous.



Guns N Roses

Take all of the tight pants, teased hair, drugs and debauchery already associated with hair metal, take out the bloated pretentiousness and emphasis on looking like girls instead of making good music, and add an in your face attitude of sneering aggression. The result is an album that perfectly tells the story of a young country boy from the northwest being dropped in the big city. Slash's searing riffs, Duff McKagan's full body bass, and of course, a pre-jerk Axl Rose's piercing wail, easily one of the the greatest albums ever made.



Warrant - Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinking Rich

Another one of the more openly sleazy albums of the 80s, few albums seem to perfectly sum up what seemed to be the dream of every band coming out of LA. Fame, lots and lots of money, and even more beautiful women, and even managed to still throw in some really moving ballads.



Bon Jovi - Slippery When Wet

Let's face it, if you know anything about the 80s, you know this album. There are a minimum of three songs on this album that I could easily see everyone who reads this list knowing inside and out. But the overwhelming popularity of this album should not overshadow the fact that if you like hair metal, you cannot avoid leaving this album out of your collection. As an album in and of itself, there really is not a bad song on it, with some really good rockers on it, and I will always stand by "Never Say Goodbye" as one of the greatest power ballads ever written.



Skid Row - Skid Row

One of the final roars of hair metal before the 90s came to purge it, this album really shows the just how dark and heavy hair metal could be. Hard yet soulful guitar licks and solos courtesy of Dave "The Snake" Sabo and the unbelievable vocal range of a young Sebastian Bach, with lyrics dripping with tales of youthful angst, aggression and mistakes, few songs from the 80s will weigh on you more than these (if you don't get chills from listening to "18 and life", something is wrong).

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Def Leppard - Hysteria

Yes, Def Leppard were an essential and awesome part of the NWOBHM scene. When they were starting out. As they progressed though, they became the band that infuriated rock reviewers everywhere by constantly straddling the fence between metal and pop so perfectly it really is difficult to know where to place. Also, it would be remiss of anyone not to mention the fact they were one of the bands that effectively kicked off the hair metal genre, and this album teeming with solid hard rock anthems and tender soulful ballads perfect for listening to on a quiet drive serves as basic summary of what hair metal was. Plus it was the first one to feature a one armed drummer, who kicks ass.



Ratt - Out Of The Cellar

If you ever need proof that hair metal was not all about bands looking pretty, look no further than Ratt. Really, compared to their contemporaries, they had a lot going against them. Were they good looking? No. Does Stephen Pearcy have a good singing voice? No. And yet, if I ever make a list of the best rock albums to have for a party, you can bet this album will be near the top. Working with they had, they manged to create some absolutely perfect rock songs that will get stuck in your head for days and still make you bang your head as much as anything you've ever heard.

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Cinderella - Long Cold Winter

They had all of the look and style that we all think of when we think of 80s rock, and while their self-titled debut is considered a staple of the era, it was this one where they really proved themselves as a unique band. Main man Tom Keifer added a much needed dose of blues to hair metal, while still managing to deliver one of the biggest most over inflated yet wonderful power ballads ever screamed.

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Poison - Look What The Cat Dragged In

For many, this is the definitive hair metal album, taking the concept of men dressed like women to the biggest extreme (at least until the next album on this list). One of the most fun albums you will ever hear with some often greatly overlooked musicianship, particularly on the part of guitarist C.C. Deville, hair metal would not have been anywhere near what it would become without these guys.



Twisted Sister - Stay Hungry

Nowhere was the hair metal tradition of pseudo cross dressing more celebrated and more parodied, than in the hands of Twisted Sister. And nowhere in hair metal will you find a better collection of theme songs for the rebellion every teenager wants to to be staging. Black listed by the PMRC, reviled by other parent groups, but celebrated by metal loving youths, these guys should have dominated the world.

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Motley Crue - Shout At The Devil

Def Leppard may have been instrumental in kicking off hair metal, Bon Jovi or Poison may come to mind more quickly if someone mentions hair metal, but the band that officially started hair metal, was the one and only Motley Crue. In their drug fueled sex crazed prime and at their most controversial, this album in particular angered more parents and delighted more youths than I could ever imagine any band doing in this day and age. On par with Ozzy Osbourne in terms of infamy, this album is an airtight bombshell of glam metal sleaze and punk rock attitude that will have you shouting until the early hours of the morning.

The Tease Goes On

These days hair metal is thought of as being more of a fun metal, but there was enough controversy surrounding many of it's key players to put it on par with any other metal movement at the time. Check them out and see for yourself.


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