Rough Cutt

Wants You!

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Rough Cutt were never really "cutt" out to be a platinum-haired and platinum-selling So Cal glam metal band. Like Night Ranger and Autograph, among others, their music was more slick than sleazy, more restrained than out of control, and, unlike the most successful L.A. hair bands -- Mötley Crüe, Ratt, et. al -- arguably more indebted to AOR bands like Foreigner or Journey than pure hard rockers like Aerosmith or Van Halen. Be that as it may, after watching that formula fail to shift enough copies of the group's eponymous first album, Warner Bros. issued clear and unequivocal orders for Rough Cutt's sophomore opus, Wants You!: "Tart up, dumb down, and start attracting that lowest common denominator of party rock consumer, boys, or it's off to the scrap heap with you!" Problem was, Rough Cutt seemed incapable of making the necessary adjustments, and the selection of '70s-minded producer Jack Douglas (Aerosmith, Cheap Trick, etc.) didn't help matters much. So aside from a few unpersuasive hair metal template exercises like the patriotic fist-pumper "Rock the USA," the pop metal fluffer "Don't Settle for Less," and any number of blockhead rockers, thick as middle linebackers ("We Like It Loud," "Double Trouble," etc.), Wants You! reprised most of its predecessor's personality traits to the letter, only with less fresh results. Elsewhere, clean-cut, mid-paced melodic rockers like "Bad Reputation," "Hot 'n' Heavy," "Take a Chance," and "You Wanna be a Star," were technically sound of body and mind, but all of them still coasted along with a frustrating lack of urgency, ill-fitting for a band whose backs were up against the wall. So it's actually quite telling to find two of Rough Cutt's most promising new songs tucked away at the back of the album: the first being a shockingly good mainstream rock single (that wasn't) in "Let 'Em Talk"; and the second being closing ballad, "The Night Cries Out (For You)" -- a slow-burning, bluesy affair along the same lines of Tesla's superb "We're No Good Together," released that same year. Both suggest a more mature (if not necessarily as commercially pertinent) '80s AOR direction that Rough Cutt could have/should have pursued thereafter, had singer Paul Shortino not defected to Quiet Riot soon after this album's release. Instead, Rough Cutt were dropped by Warner and promptly broke up (though not necessarily in that order), ostensibly because of Shortino's departure, but realistically because Wants You! simply proved that not enough people wanted Rough Cutt back.

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