Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Silverhead - Silverhead and 16 and Savaged

Michael Des Barres may be best known for his marriage to groupie extraordinaire and ex-GTO Pamela, but his initial claim to fame was this heavy metal/pop/glam band, Silverhead. This group also featured Nigel Harrison, later with Blondie and Chequered Past (with Michael), along with Rod Davies on drums, Pete Thompson on keys, and guitarists Stevie Forest and Robbie Blunt. These are their two official releases before fizzling out due to lack of sales. They have since become an iconic band, probably as much due to the fantastic 16 and Savaged cover as to their music, though they did created some fine pop metal.

The self-titled debut premiers with a basic boogie-rock with pop overtones in "Long Legged Lisa", which also shows off the slide guitar which was a trademark, giving the band a bit of a different sound from most hard rock/glam bands at the time. "Underneath the Light" is a catchy, sing-a-long (complete with "doo-doo's"!) and probably the closest they come to the pop-metal that was normally considered glam rock before it moves into pure hard rock with plenty of great guitar work for the ending. Fine stuff!

"Ace Supreme" doesn't quite cut it with me for some reason, though the group is doing their best to cook it out. The ballad "Johnny" has musical references to old English folk songs, which gives it a nice flavor and a good change of pace which continues somewhat with "In Your Eyes", though I'm being reminded of other 70's power-ballads here, even if I can't place my finger on anything specifically. "Rolling With My Baby" is another fun boogie-rocker with a chant-along chorus and some added horns, which somehow work, even while sounding a bit out of place.

Yet another ballad, this one laden with backing vocals and keys, "Wounded Heart" is actually some pretty good songwriting and the band gets creative in their playing and dynamics, especially the rhythm section. Back to the boogie for the mid-tempo "Sold Me Down the River", again with horns and a groovy beat, before rockin' it up again in "Rock and Roll Band" - no, not exactly deep lyrics, but this is a good, melodic, rock'n'roll tune with a break-down bridge and another dynamic bass-and-drum break before going all out for the ending!

Opening the second album, "Hello New York" is a pretty damn fine r'n'r anthem, telling a tale of almost
burning down a hotel during their touring debauchery, which is followed by the filthy "More Than Your Mouth Can Hold". This is a cool pop tune, despite the lyrical content, and has some neat slide guitar work. A slow, bluesy rock ballad, "Only You" moves into a boogie-rocker, "Bright Light", with more fine slide work and a high-speed rave-up ending.

"Heavy Hammer" is a syncopated riff-rocker with dual riffin' guitars which is followed by the frantic "Cartoon Princess", with slide and wah-wah guitars intertwined and colliding, power chords and much mania! Heavy, heavy chords dominate "Rock Out Claudette Rock Out", sounding almost like Humble Pie or someone like that - a bit darker and metal-y compared to the rest of the numbers. I'm sure that these cats were accused of jumping on bandwagons, hence the somewhat defensive "This Ain't a Parody", which is written as a love song, but I'm sure there was a bigger picture. Closing with the title cut, this is a bit schizophrenic, with rockin' verses and quiet, ballad-y choruses. Doesn't quite make the tour-de-force that I assume they were going for here.

All-in-all, good, but not great glam/pop/metal worth having if you fine it discounted. Sorry - not high praise, but, while I dig the records and pull them out fairly regularly, they just miss the mark.