Many of the great Eighties bands, hair, glam or otherwise, have been resurrected for a second wind, some have kept busy from their inception, and many seem to be found on Italy's Frontiers Records. Of the latter is Hollywood hard rockers Warrant, now releasing their ninth studio album Rockaholic. The vocalist of their glory years, Jani Lane has come and gone once more. Briefly replaced by Black 'N Blue singer Jaime St. James, the slot is now filled by ex-Lynch Mob singer Robert Mason.
Of course, Warrant is known for their meteoric rise in the second half of the Eighties. Big singles like Down Boys, the power ballads Sometimes She Cries and Heaven, and the ever popular Cherry Pie made them MTV favorites and platinum sellers. Honestly, I can't recall having much interest in Warrant or even owning any of their albums back in the day, and I'm not sure why. Perhaps, this is a good thing as I didn't have any preconceived notions coming to this new album.
To conclude first, Rockaholic is a fine melodic hard rock, an unexpected and enjoyable listening experience. This comes from the interesting and varied song composition. Rockaholic begins with some straight ahead hard rock in Sex Ain't Love, Innocence Gone, and Snake. Warrant wants to strike first: kick ass and take names. Snake has a heavy groove and a blistering solo. Sex Ain't Love is a prime material for single release or a stylish video. It rolls and rocks with infectious groove.
The bit bluesy Dusty's Revenge follows, but then Warrant throws the listener a curve or two. Home, a fine power ballad, is nothing new for Warrant. But the melodic, near album-oriented, rock of What Love Can Do and Life's a Song are entertaining contrasts to the opening material. This AOR feel returns in the two additional ballads Found Forever and Tears in the City. The latter is quite exemplary and shows Mason's strong vocal skills.
Somewhere in between lie variations on Warrant's traditional hard rock themes. Show Must Go On, Cocaine Freight Train (with a little blues harp?), and The Last Straw are fast rockers with great melodic lines and big hooks. Show Must Go On and The Last Straw have a real arena ready rock brilliance. Finally, Candy Man, my least favorite song here, and Sunshine find Warrant developing simple and steady, uncompromising, hard rock.
With little reservation I can say I was quite impressed with latter day Warrant and Rockaholic. Excellent musicianship combined with sterling production (Keith Olsen: Whitesnake, Scorpions, Ozzy), and superb songs make Rockaholic an excellent hard rock album. Likely, I will be revisiting what I missed in the Eighties. Recommended.