In 1990, WARRANT released their sophomore effort, the infamous “Cherry Pie”. Thanks to the album cover and title track, WARRANT was forever stereotyped as just another two-bit Hair Metal band. Personally, I find them to be much deeper than your average Sunset Strip rockers, thanks to singer Jani Lane’s remarkably emotive (and sometimes deeply personal…but more on that later) lyrics, as well as his melodic vocal melodies.
According to Lane, the original album title and lead single was supposed to be “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”, an excellent (and not-very-Hair-Metal-sounding) song about a murder cover-up in Louisiana. However, the record company pressured the band to write a sing-along anthem, and Lane complied by slapping together “Cherry Pie” in forty-five minutes. While it’s certainly a catchy song, it sounds nearly identical to Joan Jett’s “I Love Rock n’ Roll”. Unfortunately, this song is what the band is known for, and that’s a shame, considering how there is a wealth of excellent material on the album.
For example, take a look at “Mr. Rainmaker”, my favorite WARRANT track of all time. Sure, it’s a love song, but it’s all about the way Lane presents it. Each lyric cleverly refers to rain in some form, comparing it to heartache. I know it sounds cheesy, but I think the lyrics are well-written, and the guitar work atypical of the genre, especially the intro.
If you’re looking for a good ballad, then you came to the right place; WARRANT delivers in a big way with “I Saw Red”. Based on a true story involving Lane walking in on his best friend in bed with his girlfriend (an event that gave him a nervous breakdown, delaying WARRANT’s debut by several months), “I Saw Red” is a beautiful, solemn ballad that showcases Lane’s very emotional singing style. On the line, “I’ve been hurt and I’ve been blind/I’m not sure that I’ll be fine/I never though it would end this way”, his voice shakes with emotion, making it stand out. What a great singer.
Although it’s not WARRANT’s best album (to me, that’d be the progressive extravaganza of 1992’s “Dog Eat Dog”), it’s still a great Glam Metal album, chock-full of hits. Only a few songs (“Sure Feels Good To Me”, the abominable title track) fit the cookie-cutter Hair Metal mould. Many will argue that this is WARRANT at the top of their game, and I guess in a way, it is. “Cherry Pie” is their breakthrough album, the one containing the most “hits”, and the one with the most record sales. Glam Metal fans should hang their big-haired heads in shame if they don’t own this definitive album.
(Online November 25, 2006)