Radio personality Eddie Trunk recently released a podcast episode in which he responds to questions regarding the critical dismissal of hair metal bands as legitimate rock artists. It’s on a YouTube channel called Metal Highlights.
I have been following Trunk’s radio show for some time because of his unique take on hard rock. He was also the host of the VH1 series That Metal Show, which I had followed as a young music fan.
In the episode from January 31st, Trunk argues that hair metal bands of the 80s like Poison and Ratt are never given proper respect as musicians because of the flashiness of their presentation. This, coupled with the grunge explosion of the early 90s, left many acts to fall by the wayside.
I agree that there are many fantastic players in hair metal. While the glam style is certainly dated, there are some fantastic musicians including guitarists like Paul Gilbert from Mr. Big and Nuno Bettencourt from Extreme. There is nothing inherently wrong with the approach of these bands. These musicians simply took the 70s theatrics of David Bowie and Sweet and combined them with the hard rock from Led Zeppelin and Aerosmith.
And lest anyone forget, fantastic bands came out of this scene: Guns N’ Roses and recent Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductees, Def Leppard.
Though I understand Trunk’s points on the importance of these bands, I do have some issues with his argument. While I respect Trunk’s enthusiasm for this hard rock music, some hair bands that came out towards the end of the 80s and early 90s were the product of hair metal’s last gasp.
Early hair metal was often fantastic, but the carbon copy bands that came along at the tail end of the decade made people hungry for something new and authentic. The Seattle sound of bands like Soundgarden and Pearl Jam blew the last remnants of hair metal away.
But without the hair bands, grunge may have never exploded as it did.
Trunk’s podcast does bring up some legitimate arguments for the hair metal genre. What makes Trunk’s presentation unique is his above-average experience in radio and his unprecedented knowledge of obscure records from the glory days of hard rock music. He also has a delivery that is down-to-earth, akin to someone you would meet at one of these bands’ concerts.
While I did not see eye-to-eye with Trunk on this subject, his signature style and knowledge of every facet of classic hard rock will have me coming back for more.
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