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10 Hair Metal Albums That Aged Incredibly Well


It was an age of unbridled hedonism and hair spray, where spandex was the uniform and power ballads ruled the airwaves. Glam is one of the most polarizing genres of metal, but for one decade on the Sunset Strip, it was a scene as dominant as any in rock history.

The general consensus amongst metalheads is that most ’80s glam metal didn’t stand the test of time. It was too corny to survive, with way too many bands making the same stuff over and over. That may be the truth, but these 10 albums were more than just part of a trend. They’re genuinely great.

Let’s make one thing clear — Cinderella was a fucking great band. They had the cheesy glam metal name and look, but the band’s songwriting was just so damn tasteful. Cinderella‘s debut album is filled with rock n’ roll grooves, some southern vibes, great guitar work, Sunset Strip swagger and killer vocals from Tom Keifer. This band had just as much in common with Aerosmith as they did with typical L.A. hair metal.

Twisted Sister never considered themselves a “hair metal” band, but their monstrous look and anthemic cuts put them side-by-side with the Poisons and Wingers of the age. “We’re Not Gonna Take It,” “Burn In Hell,” “I Wanna Rock,” “The Price”… only the sickest motherfuckers (like Pee-Wee Herman) know how phenomenal Stay Hungry is from front to back.

Tooth and Nail often gets the nod for Dokken‘s best album, but the opening trio of “Unchain the Night,” “The Hunter” and “In My Dreams” on Under Lock and Key is incomparable. Dokken was never one of the cool, heart-throb hair metal bands, but a mastermind like George Lynch was never going to be properly appreciated by casual listeners. These songs were built to last, not just to satiate the Sunset Strip crowd.

Welcome to the Nuno Bettencourt show. The guitar mastery throughout this classic album is just ridiculous. Nobody could touch Bettencourt in the glam scene… and how many hair metal bands could’ve pulled off throwing horns into an album? Extreme II: Pornograffitti was truly a mad scientist type of experiment, but thank goodness someone had the balls to attempt it.

Y&T was another ‘80s act whose lack of coolness prevented them from hitting Mötley Crüe levels of infamy. Though Y&T didn’t have much of an edge to them, their songwriting on Mean Streak is top-notch. The band’s rhythmic work is phenomenally tight, the twin guitar attack on tracks like “Midnight In Tokyo” is super rich, and “Lonely Side of Town” has a massive ‘80s chorus. Give this one another spin.

Hanoi Rocks‘ earlier, more punk-leaning works tend to get the most praise, but the band’s glam-tastic 1984 album Two Steps From the Move has really held up. These guys did everything well… from their Rolling Stones attitude, Beach Boys vocal harmonies, Clash-like anthems and unapologetic ballads. This album is so much fucking fun to listen to. It made me want to ditch high school and I’m 36 years old.

This band had so much god damn attitude before Blackie Lawless became a born-again Christian. The guitar tone alone captured on W.A.S.P.‘s self-titled debut is ’80s supremacy in a nutshell — like the Terminator stuck his D-1000 in the top loader of a Sega Genesis. There’s not a dull moment on this album. “I Wanna Be Somebody,” “L.O.V.E. Machine,” “The Torture Never Stops”… even without the iconic “Animal (Fuck Like a Beast),” this record is a classic.

The fact that Paul Gilbert and Billy Sheehan ended up in the same band is truly a gift from the metal gods. Lean Into It was released right before the grunge explosion of 1991, making it one of the glam Zeitgeist’s last great albums. Mr. Big‘s big hits, “To Be With You” and “Just Take My Heart,” are both super corny, but they’re undeniably well-written and just flippin’ pleasant to listen to. Plus, the rest of the album just straight-up rocks.

Right out the gate, Tesla‘s The Great Radio Controversy solidifies itself as a must-hear album. “Hang Tough” goes so hard with the Iron Maiden riffage, while “Lady Luck” brings the ‘80s super-chorus to damn near hedonistic levels. This record is just solid, all the way until the dreamlike “Paradise” and the climactic “Party’s Over.” Few hair metal acts were able to craft such a complete work.

What else can be said about Whitesnake‘s self-titled album? It’s just huge song after huge song — so much more than just another glam metal album. David Coverdale sounds like the second coming of Robert Plant, the guitar work on cuts like “Still of the Night” is gigantic, it’s got all-timers like “Here I Go Again” and it’s one of the most pristinely produced albums you’ll ever hear. Lush is an understatement.

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