Jul 2013 28

Various Artists - Spandex on the Sunset Strip: A Tribute to ‘80s MetalVarious Artists
Category: Compilations
Album: Spandex on the Sunset Strip: A Tribute to ‘80s Metal
Stars: 2.5
Blurb: A tribute compilation that is worth the precious hard drive space even if its lesser elements at times overshadow the true accomplishments.


After paying respects to the glamorous achievements of the new wave, COMA and a brand new roster of artists go down and dirty and squeeze back into tight, flattering denims to remind all audiences why we miss, should miss, or perhaps why we never cared for the ‘80s metal fad. Regardless of one’s opinion, the quality of this collective effort will be equally divisive, with soaring highs, satisfying middles, and disappointing lows.

The dubstep filled “Talk Dirty to Me” goes on for a bit too long, especially given its rather exhaustive first half, which early on exploits all of the track’s musical cues. It’s a loud and energetic opening nevertheless, even if it’s as indistinguishable from Poison’s original and ultimately a rather bland cover of a decidedly bland song. More disappointing is the following “Rocket Queen,” which pierces ear drums with rough vocalization that borders on harmful and goes beyond the usual distorted industrial textures, not to mention Axl’s original performance. Lucidstatic than tops it with a caustic and cacophonous bridge that coupled with, once again, a pointlessly bloated running time begins to test the listener’s resilience and squanders the song’s potential for a focused, coldwave inspired hit. Thankfully, this deteriorating quality of the record is remedied by a pitch-perfect reworking of “We Are the Youth Gone Wild” that finds terror EBM act MyParasites in its liveliest effort yet and leads to the compilation’s outstanding achievement in the form of a self conscious and hopelessly catchy track by The Gothsicles. Not only is the chorus fantastically, and instantly, memorable, but the band’s sense of purpose, on a tribute to some of the ‘80s’ most corny music, is well served by the act’s inherent humor and technical prowess. Like a sudden wake up call, “Photograph” leads to several more worthwhile attempts on pastiche with PRODUKT’s enjoyable if unimaginative carbon copy of “Wrap My Wings” and Dharmata 101’s totally distinct, compact take on Dio’s “Night People.” Sadly, one will be truly tested by the underproduced, rough workmanship of songs like “Nobody’s Fool,” the intriguing but disappointing electro inspired cover of “Runaway” and the closing “Close Your Eyes” that like a cruel counterweight balance the impact of the playful “Wait,” the solid and heavy “Love Bites” from White Shadow, and “Getting Better” in Red This Ever’s lyrical incarnation.

Every gem and almost every well intended and well executed throwback to ‘80s metal heavy hitters is to some degree undone on Spandex on the Sunset Strip, a compilation that could benefit from an extra layer of polish, the lack of which being only partially justified by the lack of a price tag. If you are ready to endure its obvious faults tough, and you should, there are several tracks that will not only remind you of past favorites but evoke fresh new and definitely positive reactions.
Track list:

  1. Exageist – Talk Dirty to Me
  2. Lucidstatic ft. Sean “Satyr” Tracy of PRODUKT – Rocket Queen
  3. MyParasites – We Are the Youth Gone Wild
  4. The Gothsicles ft. Dan Clark of The Dark Clan – Photograph
  5. PRODUKT – Wrap My Wings
  6. Dharmata 101 – Night People
  7. Astraea Invade – Nobody’s Fool
  8. Mickle Blvd – Runaway
  9. Whormongr – Wait
  10. White Shadow – Love Bites
  11. Red This Ever – Getting Better
  12. Fall Dead Hero – Close Your Eyes

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Damian Glowinkowski (DamienG)

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