Silverhead

Silverhead

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Before Ratt, before Hanoi Rocks, before the New York Dolls, and before a lot of the British bands that history recalls as archetypal glam rockers, there was Silverhead, the first and positively the greatest metal band ever to dress up like a bunch of weird-looking hookers. Silverhead, this unsightly, unseemly, and unconcerned behemoth's debut album, is strutting teenage trash of the first order. Guitars totter precariously on absurdly high heels, the rhythms are offering knee-tremblers in a backstreet alleyway some place, the lyrics drape lasciviously over anybody who'll hold them up, and the riffs will spend the night with anyone. "Long Legged Lisa," "Rolling with My Baby," and "Sold Me Down the River" might not be the most immortal songs ever oozed onto vinyl, but they certainly dress the sluttiest. So early in the glam rock day, it's impossible to say who Silverhead's most palpable influences were. Marc Bolan, of course, gets in there, but the Sweet were still chewing bubblegum at this time, and Slade were always more of a pop band than a poison (or even a Poison). There is unquestionably a taste of the Stones' Beggars Banquet in sight, which is a role model everyone can identify with. And the keyboards occasionally hit Deep Purple territory -- "Underneath the Light," stripped of vocalist Michael Des Barres' gestured ejaculations, would have sounded great on Made in Japan. The street epic "Johnny," meanwhile, has more in common with latter-day Bon Jovi than an Alice Cooper epic, but even more prescient is "Wounded Heart," a big-production ballad that not only single-handedly predicts the power ballad of latter-day renown, it could also offer singing lessons to a less adenoidal Axl Rose. But Silverhead's true destiny lies within the swaggering, fluttering, hip-swinging rockers that sashay down the catwalk without a care in the world, with the piece de resistance perhaps unsurprisingly titled "Rock 'n' Roll Band." That's what they are, that's all they wanna be, that's what they'll stay till the day they die. And that pretty much sums up Silverhead. Subtle as a flying handbag.

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