By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
There was once a glorious golden age. An age of spandex-clad heroes wielding axes, banging gongs and waging wars amidst wisps of fog and blinding lights. That golden age was called the 1980s, the war was called "Hair Metal" and two of the leading armies were Ratt and Skid Row. While most other players in the glam game tarted up and soaked in the steaming hot tub of power balladry, Ratt and Skid Row always seemed a little bit tougher by comparison. While you may have wanted to make out with the guys from Warrant, you would have been more likely to accompany the members of Skid Row to a midnight screening of Taxi Driver.
Led by the feral hairspray receptacle Stephen Pearcy, Ratt exploded all over radio and MTV with their 1984 album, Out of the Cellar, and its accompanying single and video for "Round and Round," a song that has become a junior-high dry-hump anthem. Ratt was the epitome of the mid-'80s hair-metal takeover of the music industry. They weren't quite as tough as Mötley Crüe but could definitely kick Britney Fox's ass in a bar fight.
Even tougher was the New Jersey band Skid Row. The golden-haired and -throated front man, Sebastian Bach, was all denim and leather and teen angst with a touch of old-fashioned metal bravado thrown in there for good measure. Skid Row's 1989 self-titled debut album was a huge hit; songs such as "18 and Life" and "I Remember You" were anthems for a generation of metal kids that thought Poison were pussies but were too afraid to get into Slayer. Skid Row fell victim to bad timing, however, as they came along just in time to be trampled under the gargantuan foot of the musical Godzilla that was grunge. Sebastian Bach was later ousted from the struggling Skid Row and went on to greener (?) pastures such as landing a gig in the title role of Jesus Christ Superstar (every metal singer's secret wet dream). Skid Row is back, though, with local metalhead-made-good Johnny Solinger taking over for Bach as front man.
While Ratt is no longer a fully functioning band, the heart, soul and hair of the group, Stephen Pearcy, is touring with a backing crew, doing a sort of greatest hits revue. Word has it that he is wailing out "Round and Round" and "Way Cool Jr." as if Reagan were still in office.
If you miss the glory days of the zebra-striped spandex warlord, this is your week.