C O L U M N S
Tales from the Jugular
10 Unheard Ballads - Hair Metal For The Heart
When I hear songs on the radio like Poison's "Every Rose..." or Guns N Roses "November Rain", I often say to myself, why did those songs make it while others didn't? There were so many GREAT power ballads that I have heard from many popular and not so popular bands that should have been big radio hits--the songs that you can listen to and just know they would have been big if enough 15 year old chicks could have heard it. For whatever reason, some great, classic heart-wrenching ballads have came through under the suit & jacket radar, escaping the corporate execs only to sit on store shelves and collector's bins, never being heard by the right folks. I've chosen to list a few of my favorite "unheard ballads", so hopefully now, they won't go completely unnoticed.
1. SPREAD EAGLE - "Through These Eyes"
This song in my opinion is one of the greatest ballads ever written, an emotional, bitter look at one's view of a hateful society. This song does a great job of moving slowly through the opening lines, before exploding into full power ballad mode, complete with huge leads and a dramatic roller coaster effect from lows to highs to lows. This song was on the band's debut album for MCA in 1990, and not a single song from the album ever made it to radio.
2. EVERY MOTHER'S NIGHTMARE - "I Hate Myself"
A great romp through the pastures of love gone bad. This is a great take on the "bottom of the bottle" theme, and a heart-wrenching choice of songwriting, with Rick Ruhl taking advantage of his Tennessee southern draw to hook the listener. This one comes from the group's second album, "Wake Up Screaming", which was released to the uncaring masses on Arista in 1993.
3. WARRANT - "Bitter Pill"
Taken from the band's rebellion record, "Dog Eat Dog" in 1992, "Bitter Pill" was on par to create another "Heaven" for the band, but with complications with the group's record label Columbia, this album just came and went. It is a real shame because "Bitter Pill" would have been huge on the radio, and a much needed hard rock ballad to fight the popular grunge scene. The song's combination of piano and Jani Lane's soulful voice was the perfect ingredients for a well written love song. This one got away.
4. BANG TANGO - "Crazy"
Taken from the band's hard to find 1994 album "Love After Death" on Music For Nations, "Crazy" is a down on your luck blues ballad that reminds me of a good Aerosmith tune, with vocalist Joe Leste wailing in his calculated raspy voice. Bang Tango had some success with their debut for MCA titled "Psycho Cafe", and then completely lost the attention of record and radio execs.
5. LA GUNS - "Hey World"
This ballad is just absolutely killer, with "Hey World" basically being a slow moving prayer to God, with one album vocalist Johnny Crypt begging the higher power to "come down and save society". Perfect in every way, and easily could have been big for radio, but by 1996 nobody cared about LA Guns or their perfectly crafted album, "American Hardcore".
6. MOON DOC - "Children Gonna Die"
This one probably never could have made radio with a title like that, but in fact this is a creative little ballad about our war-filled world, with its message simply being change our ways or our future is going to be so war-torn that our children are going to die in battlefields. This one can be found on Moon Doc's 1995 debut self-titled album for No Bull Records.
7. WHITE CROSS - "Without Your Love"
Blistering power ballad in the vein of Ratt or Motley Crue. "Without Your Love", taken from the band's 1992 record "High Gear", is a ballad focusing on one man looking at his life without God. White Cross were the leaders in Christian hard rock, but this track could have easily made radio with the listeners simply thinking the "love that is needed" is from a lost lover. White Cross never made it on the charts and its a real shame.
8. PINK CREAM 69 - "Talk To The Moon"
Taken from the group's sophomore release, "One Size Fits All", in 1991 for Sony Music, "Talk To The Moon" is a heavy, power ballad with the perfect hook. I've never really understood what the song is about, but it could have been a nice choice for a radio single. If it could have caught on, Pink Cream 69 could have been the 90's version of Van Halen.
9. THUNDERHEAD - "Loosen Up Your Grip"
This is a Telsa inspired, heavy hearted tale of lost love. Vocalist Ted Bullet does a great job with this one, not really practicing alot of ballads with Thunderhead's back alley rock 'n roll career, but "Loosen Up Your Grip" could have been a nice radio favorite. Released in 1994 on CMC, "Killing With Style" was the group's first international venture, and unfortunately never sold well.
10. LILLIAN AXE - "Dyin' To Live"
I never understoon why Lillian Axe never made it to the same level as bands like Warrant, Tesla, or Extreme. Lillian Axe were talented musicians, and really show off on this perfect radio hit that never was, "Dying To Live", a well told tale of confusion and despair in a relationship gone sour. "Dying To Live" can be found on the band's 1992 IRS album, "Poetic Justice".
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