Voodoo Hill Vain - No Respect (BGO) 1989

1. Secrets (3:52)
2. Beat The Bullet (4:01)
3. Who's Watching You (4:30)
4. 1000 Degrees (4:32)
5. Aces (3:42)
6. Smoke And Shadows (5:19)
7. No Respect (4:40)
8. Laws Against Love (3:59)
9. Down For The 3rd Time (4:59)
10. Icy (4:22)
11. Without You (6:00)
12. Ready (2:59)

Vain are a sleazy glam-metal band formed in San Francisco, CA in the mid 1980's. While most of this type of raunchy rock and roll was coming out of the bars of the Sunset Strip, Vain were performing in a scene that was known for it's thrash metal bands. "No Respect" was the band's debut originally released on Island Records. Unlike many of the glam metal bands in the late 80's, Vain's sound wasn't watered-down and glossed over by plastic studio sheen. In fact, much of the music on "No Respect" is fairly heavy, straddling that odd little blurry line between hard rock and heavy metal. The sound is combination of "Too Fast For Love"-era Crue and the smokey bar slop of Hanoi Rocks. Vocalist Davy Vain's style is what really will make or break the band for most people. His moany, squeaky vocal style gives the band a lot of character. 

The album starts off strong with "Secrets", a song that could have been written for early Crue. The song is built around crunchy guitar riffs, Davy's unique vocal style and a big hooky chorus. Considering the state of the music scene at the end of the 1980's, I'm surprised this song didn't become a hit for Vain. Likewise "Beat The Bullet" and "Who's Watching You" have big hooks and heavy riffs. As with most any band of this ilk in the 1980's, there are the mandatory ballads; "One Thousand Degrees" which is decent but "Without You" is better. The title track is definitely one of the more immediately memorable songs on the album while "Aces" has a bit of an AC/DC vibe and another hooky chorus.

Vain may have just been a couple years late on the scene. Their brand of no-frills, greasy bar room, loose-and-live, rawk-n-roll is easily as good as anything that was coming off the Hollywood Strip in the 80's, and probably better than some. File with Faster Pussycat, Sea Hags, Love/Hate, Dirty Looks, Pretty Boy Floyd, etc.

Vain Vain - All Those Strangers (Jackie Rainbow Records) 1991

1. Love Drug (3:58)
2. Planet's Turning (5:50)
3. Shooting Star (4:02)
4. Too Bad (5:33)
5. Far Away (4:44)
6. Wake Up (4:21)
7. Freak Flag (6:25)
8. Here Comes Lonely (3:51)
9. Shouldn't Cry (4:33)
10. Do You Sleep With Strangers? (4:14)
11. Looking Glass (4:07)

If Vain had any chance of gaining popularity, it was completely squelched with their follow-up album. Recoded in 1991 the album was shelved by Island Records and the band dropped from the label. The album follows in a similar manner to the excellent debut. It's not surprising that the band broke up shortly after, splintering off into several other bands. It took eighteen years for the album to finally see the light of day. 

"All Those Strangers" is a solid follow-up to "No Respect" with song after song of greasy, heavy, rock and roll. Songs like "Love Drug" and "Shooting Star" easily could have been MTV hits during the height of hair metal mania. In fact, "Shooting Star" has a swagger that reminds me of "Appetite for Destruction"-era Guns n Roses. "Here Comes Lonely"is the obligatory ballad and actually is better than either of the ballads on the regarded debut. The sound quality is also worth mentioning as "All Those Strangers" is exceptionally recorded. Every song has beefy guitar tones coupled with pounding drums and audible bass guitar.  Of course Vain's shining charisma comes from the sleazy vocals of Davy Vain. He definitely is one of those "love him or hate him" style singers. Frankly, I think his style fits the band perfectly and gives them an edge up on the plethora of other bands doing this style in the late 80's/early 90's. 

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