It’s tempting to say that Warrant besmirched their good name with a shambolic reunion in 2008 which featured some universally panned performances by drunk singer Jani Lane.
But did Warrant ever have a good name to besmirch?
Even at the height of their fame, with “Heaven” at #2 on the Billboard charts and “Cherry Pie” on high rotation on MTV, the Hollywood glamsters never really got much respect. I can recall Glenn Danzig telling me in an interview that he hoped when he played at the same festival as Warrant, people would throw things at them.
With Lane long gone, Warrant have a new singer in Robert Mason. Mason is noted in most publicity as “ex-Lynch Mob” but he was also in the extremely credible, criminally under-rated blues rockers Cry Of Love and recorded the Diamonds and Debris album with the Raleigh crew.
The bubblegum aspect now gone, this is probably Warrant’s best album. Opener “Sex Ain’t Love” is a raucous, if a tiny bit formulaic, rocker with a cool riff and bang-on delivery, “Dusty’s Revenge” is almost a Cry Of Love bluesy lament, “Snake” will make you nod involuntarily, “Home” and “Tears In The City” would have been radio hits 20 years ago and I’ve got a soft spot for mid-tempo rockers like “What Love Can Do” (even if it could be Great White).
Actually, the bit in the brackets above is the key to Rockaholic. As listenable as it is, it’s a little anonymous. It could be Great White, it could be Slaughter, it could be Firehouse. Mason has taken the band in a good, positive direction – but he’s also taken it away from being recognisably Warrant.
But Erik Turner and co. could not get away with “think about baseball, swing all night” in 2011. Their only option was to get more serious with new material while pedalling the aged cheese live. There’s a healthy market, after all, for 80s bands who are still releasing decent material – even if Mason does aim a little low when he sings “we’re all degenerate working class – and we know who we are” on “Life’s A Song”!
Time does funny things. It puts grunge and metal icons together in bands like Velvet Revolver. And it allows me to listen to Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinking Rich without turning up my nose.
For those of you who loved Warrant, you won’t recognise this as the band that make Bobbi Brown synonymous with fire hydrants and pie. But for those of us who derided Warrant with as much vitriol as Beavis & Butt-Head dismissed Winger, Rockaholic is the only Warrant album we were ever going to actually like. That is, one that sounds nothing like Warrant.
1. Sex Ain’t Love
2. Innocence Gone
4. Dusty’s Revenge
6. What Love Can Do
7. Life’s a Song
8. Show Must Go On
9. Cocaine Freight Train
10. Found Forever
11. Candy Man
13. Tears in the City
14. The Last Straw