Deciding how to classify the music that came out of the 1980s can be a tricky thing. What’s the difference between Heavy Metal, Pop Metal, Hard Rock, and Head Banging Music? Even I am not so sure and I lived through that time. The lines are definitely blurred and often it’s just a different way of classifying the same music.
To commemorate a time when MTV did actually play music videos, Rhino Flashback Studios put out a collection of DVDs titled Essential Music Videos. Each one contains about six videos deemed relevant to the title. As I’ve waded through the collection, I’ve found that most of the time there are one or two well-known songs and videos, followed by other material which I’ve generally not heard of. This can be good as there are some bands and songs that I never heard of that sounded pretty good. On the other hand, it just leaves me wondering if this was all they could get the rights to and cobbled the collection together based on that.
Pop Metal clocks in at 25 minutes long. Just enough time to wonder what possessed me to invest time in this. On this DVD, there was only one video that I’d seen before and another one that I’d heard back in my clubbing days. Other than that, there was nothing here that interested me. So if you read the list of videos and you feel you have to have one of them because you just love it, then it might be worth picking up this DVD. Otherwise, I’d definitely pass, especially since they are available on YouTube.
Winger was formed in the late 1980s and led by Kip Winger, who had been around the music industry quite a bit with other bands. Their first two albums were a success, but their third pretty much tanked and they were never heard from again. This is a performance video of one of their biggest hits. Yeah, I can remember dancing in a hard rock club to this one.
Love is on the Way (Saigon Kick)
This band was formed in Florida in the late 1980s. This song was their biggest hit and it was in heavy rotation on MTV for weeks after it was released, which probably accounted for the popularity of the song. It’s a slower song, with lots of black and white imagery. I found it to be very beautiful in its simplicity and bringing in color in the background at times.
Sister of Pain (Vince Neil)
The lead singer for Motley Crue struck out on his own and teamed up with Steve Stevens (of Billy Idol fame who we’ll hear again on this disc) to launch his debut solo album. This song picks up the pace nicely after a slow tune. It’s definitely reminiscent of the Motley Crue days, reminded me of the Girls, Girls, Girls. A very scantily, erotically dressed woman dances in what can only be described as a futuristic cage.
Atomic Playboys (Steve Stevens)
Steve Steven is mostly known for playing guitar for other artists, but he did release one solo album. This is from that album after he and Billy idol departed ways. I always thought Idol was more in the Alternative Music genre, but whatever. Anyway. This video has some good use of computer animation in the beginning then morphs into the lead singer live.
Bathroom Wall (Faster Pussycat)
This band out of California rose to fame in the late 1980s. They built their following largely through the incredible number of shows they performed. This was actually designed more like a promotional video for the song and the band and was one of their more popular recordings.
Piece of my Heart (Rough Cutt)
Influenced by Ronnie James Dio, this band never really achieved much notoriety during its tenure in the metal world. Looking at this video, and hearing their take on this classic song, I understand why. Janice Joplin has nothing to worry about.
And that’s it. The sound seemed fine to me. It wasn’t distorted and I had no problems hearing the music. The picture could have been cleaned up a bit more. Often it was blurry and not distinct and detailed the way pictures are now. So in addition to it not being much music or videos that people have seen or heard, there are also picture issues.
It’s a collection to skip as I think the studio was looking for a quick buck rather than putting out quality material, not to mention all of the videos are available on YouTube.