Thursday, December 29, 2011

Who's in next: Def Leppard vs. Bon Jovi - Round 1

Next year's induction of the Beastie Boys, Guns 'N' Roses and Red Hot Chilli Peppers shows that Rock Hall voters have moved on to the 1980s and left Hall-worthy bands like KISS and Rush out of the equation.

This brought up rumblings that Bon Jovi could be next, but some - like CDNR's G.E. Smith - are saying hold on one mother-grabbing minute, what about Def Leppard? Isn't putting Jovi in before Def Lep like putting the shit before the fart?

G.E. and myself have determined that a battle of two post-mammoth-album stinkers - Lep's "Adrenalize" and Jovi's "New Jersey" - would decide who gets in next.

We present to you Round 1: "Let's Get Rocked" vs. "Lay Your Hands On Me"

"Let's Get Rocked":

Savage: Dude looks like a lady.
G.E. Smith: When I was a kid I'd pitch a small tent in my tighty whities every time I heard the intro to this song or saw the lame video that ripped "Money For Nothing." Joe Elliott asks the seminal question followed by that sweet riff and "Good" Phil Collen, that one guitarist who looks like a hot chick, the other Replacement Guitarist for the Dead Guy and the one-armed drummer chanting "Let's get, let's get, let's get" in Mutt Lange-treated vocals, followed by big beefy power chords that lead the way into the meat of this equivalent of a steam room packed with hairy men.

I gotta admit that listening to it now, I get about as soft as Jim J. Bullock at Delilah's Den by the time Elliot sings the chorus for the third time. Slickly produced, expertly played, boring as crap.

"Rocked" isn't horrible, but standing next to "Pour Some Sugar On Me" it sounds like Nickelback at it's worst.

RATING: .3 balls out of 2, which is equal to 2.87 out of 10. I think.

Michael Anthony: What riff? Oh THAT riff. The one that makes "Up The Creek" sound like "Back In Black"? Hell, it makes "Back In Black" sound like goddamn Mozart. As a huge Lep supporter, it saddens me to report that never in the history of bad-ass Def Leppard singles had there ever been such weak non-riffery in a song (up to that point, of course; anything after 1992 is actually even worse than this).

And didn't you guys tell me to get rocked a couple times before, albeit in somewhat more poetic terms? Alright, so "Rocket" ain't Bob Dylan, but as far as meatheads-telling-others-that-they-should-rock goes, it's pretty solid prose. At the very least, it'll pump you up for a big flag football game or a big rock gig. Same with "Rock of Ages." "Let's Get Rocked" makes me want to listen to like, Kraftwerk only, forever, so I never have to think about awful guitar music again. Let's not.

RATING (on the Pitchfork scale): ONEOFTHEWORSTSONGSOFTHEDECADE.1 (out of 10)

"Lay Your Hands On Me":

I'm wanted. Waaaannnnttteeeeeaaad!!!
Michael Anthony: Hey, Mr. BJ! Why does it take you almost 3 FULL MINUTES to get to the turgid point of this fetid pile of big album-opener trash? Jesus, this is worse than I remembered it, and I remembered it being pretty much the worst thing that I'd ever heard. Was it supposed to be a "Hysteria" knock-off? A Mutt Lange-inspired "Born In The USA" with lyrics about jack shit? Something more experimental? Who knows? Whatever it was supposed to be, it wasn't anything other than horrid, and the American public, with their great taste, quickly turned on Bon Jovi forever.*

To be fair, the perpetually uncool Richie Sambora does rip some semi-cool faux-Vai licks in the long intro, though, given a multi-million-dollar studio and 3 FULL MINUTES to dick around in, you'd expect a little more than some half-hearted solos and the occasional flourish of noise.

There's also this tight accidental harmonic feedback thing, which is more likely the fault of Bruce Fairbairn, uber-producer of more than a few not-so-Hall caliber albums from otherwise HOF-worthy bands, and probably has nothing to do with Jon Bon.

RATING: 2.69 (out of 10)

* Not true.

One of 30 for a penny, via the BMG Music Club.
G.E. Smith: To do this up for real, I went and dug out the TAPE version of "New Jersey," and to do so I had to wade through a sea of Robert Palmer, Huey Lewis and Al B. Sure. I feel dirty.

Anyway, yes, the rip of "Hysteria" Mutt Lange magic in the opening is right there in our face, but if you're going to lift from that album why take one of the sludgy parts from "Gods of War" on side two? What happens after this is more disturbing. Before the music kicks in Jovi does a Michael Hutchence on that spoken word part, then he's doing those David Lee Roth vocal screeches ("I've been to school-HA! Oh baby I've been the teacher.") And then Steven Tyler's "P.U.M.P."-era sex tease on the "your satisfaction is uh, guaranteed." Why the hell does a guy who dominated the world on his last album have to rip from anyone on the follow up?

Fairbairn helped make this happen. I bow to Fairbairn.
Sure, that feedback thing is cool, but unlike "Rocked," this track is sloppily produced, with weak and lazy vocal takes, sloppy cut ins and uneven volume levels. This is odd, since, like you said, Fairbairn helmed some of the '80s biggest hard-hair rock albums, like Aerosmith's "Permanent Vacation" and Loverboy's "Get Lucky." Maybe Fairbairn was off his game. Or maybe he felt duped because Jovi and Sambora handed him a steaming pile of cat poo instead of a solid batch of tunes.

This is soulless corporate rock at best, most likely the product of self-congratulatory smugness and copious amounts of attention from dirty groupies and even dirtier rock critics.

RATING: .2 balls out of 2, or 2.1 out of 10.

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