1984 Glam Metal Smack Down - The West Coast vs. The East Coast
1984 was a banner year for the genre of Glam Metal. Glam Metal defined the decade of the 1980's, and 1984 was possibly one of its biggest years.
The previous year had seen Quiet Riot top the charts with their breakthrough album Metal Health. Metal Health was the first ever heavy metal albums to hit number one on the Billboard album charts and would go on to sell more than six million copies. The success of that record opened the flood gates for Glam Metal.
The Glam Metal scene of the 80's is closely associated with LA's Sunset Strip, which produced a long list of bands including Motley Crue, WASP, LA Guns, Dokken and countless others. While Los Angeles could be dubbed the Seattle of the 80's, it did not solely account for all the action. The East Coast also had its fair share of glam bands: Cinderella, Britny Fox, Skid Row, Kix and Bon Jovi are just a few that come to mind.
Taking all of that into account, I thought I would lay out some arguments for two albums that came out in 1984 that had major chart success and let the masses decide which one is the champ. If not the masses at least the Pencilstorm.com loyalists can weigh in.
First up from the West Coast we have Ratt with their full length debut album Out of the Cellar.
Ratt formed in San Diego and their history stretches back to 1973. After numerous name and lineup changes Ratt officially appeared on the scene in August of 1983 with their independently released self-titled EP. The success of this EP landed the band a major label deal with Atlantic Records and the band quickly began work on their debut full length album.
Out of the Cellar was released on March 23, 1984 and was an instant hit on MTV and radio. The album's first single "Round and Round" peaked at No. 12 in the Billboard singles chart and proved to be the biggest single of the band's career. The video for "Round and Round" featured a cameo from comedian Milton Bearle, who was the uncle of Ratt's manager Marshall Bearle. As for the rest of the record it was loaded with catchy guitar riffs from Warren DeMartini and raspy lead vocals from Stephen Pearcy. I always thought of Ratt as a new breed of Aerosmith. They had all the typical trappings of the era but with an underlying blues rock thing that kind of made them different from the rest of the pack. "Wanted Man" and "Lack of Communication" were also released as singles but did not chart as high as "Round and Round." The videos for "Wanted Man" and "Back For More" received heavy rotation on MTV.
Ratt would continue to have moderate hits with their next few records and became a huge concert draw but never quite matched the success of their debut album.
Currently Ratt is touring with only one original member, drummer Bobby Blotzer. Dude must need the cash.
Out of the Cellar Stats:
Triple Platinum (over 3 Million units sold)
Peak Chart Position on Billboard Charts - #7
"Round and Round" #12 on Billboard Hot 100
"Wanted Man" #87 on Billboard Hot 100
Future Whitesnake video vixen Tawny Kitaen appeared on the Out of the Cellar cover
From the East Coast we have Twisted Sister with their third full length release Stay Hungry.
Twisted Sister come from the streets of Long Island, NY and like Ratt their history goes back well over a decade. The band was formed in 1973 by guitarist Jay Jay French but it would take several years before the band would find the right combination of players to create the Twisted Sister that became a worldwide success. With the addition of lead singer Dee Snider in 1976 the band soon become a huge live draw and released two singles on their own label. Although the band became very popular in the New York Tri-State area, they could not get a record deal. The band eventually signed with Secret Records, an indie punk label out of the UK. Secret Records released the band's first EP Rough Cutts and debut album Under the Blade. Although both releases brought the band great success in the UK, Secret Records would go out of business by 1983 and the band was again without a label. Atlantic Records quickly signed the band and released their next album You Can't Stop Rock 'N Roll in June of 1983.
Stay Hungry was released on May 10, 1984 and would bring the band a whole new legion of die-hard fans. As with Ratt, MTV once again proved to be vital in the commercial success of Twisted Sister. The videos for "We're Not Gonna Take It" and "I Wanna Rock" both featured a cameo from Mark Metcalf, best known for his work in Animal House as Doug Niedermeyer. Metcalf channels his best Doug Niedermeyer for both videos and ask "What do you wanna do with your life?" and of course the appropriate response to that question is always gonna be "I Wanna Rock." Both videos became staples in MTV's daily line-up and Dee Snider became one of the most recognizable front men in rock and roll. Twisted Sisters image was more on the cartoonish side of glam metal and that would eventually work against them. A couple more albums followed Stay Hungry but Twisted Sister would never repeat the success they had in 1984.
Twisted Sister are currently in the midst of playing some farewell shows and promoting their career spanning documentary We Are Twisted F***ing Sister.
Stay Hungry Stats
Triple Platinum (over 3 Million units sold)
Peak Chat Position on Billboard Album Charts - #15
"We're Not Gonna Take It" #21 on Billboard Hot 100
"I Wanna Rock" #68 on Billboard Hot 100
Now the big question, which one of these Glam Metal icons should reign as the top dog of 1984? Looking at the stats they are very close in terms of sales, so it cannot be judged on sales alone. Overall Ratt had a higher chart position for their record and singles, but does that make them the champs? Twisted Sister tagged their ravenous fan base with the moniker "SMF's" which stood for 'Sick Mother F******". While Ratt called their form of Glam Metal "Ratt 'N Roll." So, is it the "SMF's" or the "Ratt 'N Rollers"? Dee Snider went to bat for the whole genre of Heavy Metal when he spoke at a Senate hearing where the PMRC (Parents Music Resource Center) was trying to censor music, so maybe his band wins, because that was epic.
Below are some links that may help crown a winner in this battle. In the end both bands had a great 1984 and obviously there was enough room in the marketplace for both, but now is the time to decide which has stood the test of time.
Let the music do the talking.......
Scott Carr is a guitarist who plays in the Columbus, OH bands Radio Tramps andReturning April. Scott is also an avid collector of vinyl records and works at Lost Weekend Records. So...if you are looking for Scott....you'll either find him in a dimly lit bar playing his guitar or in a record store digging for the holy grail.