Bulletboys

Za-Za

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Za-Za starts out with a bang, but the scattershot approach to stardom (copping AC/DC's attitude with petty theft of Van Halen's playfulness and Bon Jovi's ballads) seems like a desperate measure; after all, Warner Bros. banked on Bulletboys to be a leader, not a follower. That's fine for some folks who look at the L.A. metal scene as a source of good, consistent product, but most fans were just as happy to get their fix from longstanding acts like Mötley Crüe and Ratt. Producer Ted Templeman (a veteran of Van Halen, whom Bulletboys were pegged to succeed early in their career) gives the record plenty of pop/metal punch, placing them somewhere between Cheap Trick (on the Templeman-produced Woke up With a Monster) and Jackyl in terms of menacing posture. If Za-Za is only so-so, it's because the track placement undermines the momentum built up at the beginning. The opening "When Pigs Fly" is a scorching kissoff, taunting pop/metal that Templeman brought with him to the subsequent Cheap Trick sessions. "Slow and Easy" introduces elements of Living Colour and Primus into the music, and the band continues to embrace the cutting edge with "The Rising." But just when you think you've got them pegged, Bulletboys spin the clock back ten years with a lame ballad, "Sing a Song"; channels the spirit of Steve Perry ("Mine"); and ends up with an AC/DC screamer that's juvenile even by their standards ("1-800-GOODBYE"). Midway into Za-Za, it's unclear what Bulletboys are after; while the rest of the songs are generally good, they feel disingenuous after so many costume changes. As it turned out, this was Bulletboys' last shot with a major label. And so one more studio science project to create the perfect band winds up in the scrap heap.

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