Review Summary: Despite falling on the wrong side of the influence/imitation fence, when it came down to it Pretty Boy Floyd were a talented band
Mötley Crüe may have commandeered the rock n’ roll circus image and produced the ultimate, unbridled account of rock n’ roll excess in The Dirt
, but when it comes to out-and-out drama, they’re mere amateurs compared to their Sunset Strip peers. The story of Pretty Boy Floyd is too good to waste as a mere soap opera sub-plot; it needs its own History Channel mini-series, perhaps even Discovery.
The last two months have seen former guitarist Kristy “Krash” Majors and frontman Steve “Sex” Summers fight out a bitter battle via Myspace and Metal Sludge’s message board, which saw Majors challenging his former band-mate to a UFC fight (I’m not making this up) and Summers alleging that Majors “stoled” (exact quote- I couldn’t make this up) and released a number of songs written by former Warrant pair Jani Lane and Keri Kelli having bought a computer containing the tracks from Kelli. Enter into the equation Aeriel Stiles; the guitarist quit the band a year before their debut release Leather Boyz With Electric Toyz
despite having written all but one of the songs, and was cheated out of his credits as a result. An out-of-court settlement later, and what does Aeriel do? He re-joins the band and gifts them another thirty-five tracks! Repeat cycle not once but twice, and you’re just about as confused as I am.
Forming in 1987 and releasing their debut record two years later, Pretty Boy Floyd were one of the last internationally successful glam metal acts to emerge from Sunset Strip. Boasting an extreme glam image, the band could very well have stepped off of the cover of Mötley Crüe’s Girls, Girls, Girls
, a still-hilarious dichotomy pitting make-up and teased hair against macho biker posturing. Their sound, too, was highly derivative, recalling in particular early Mötley Crüe. Summers’ voice ranges from vaguely to eerily similar to Crüe singer Vince Neil’s nasal shrill, while the songs combine the pop precision of pre-Shout
Crüe with the calculated pomp of the post-Shout
band, much in the same manner as early Poison or even Warrant.
Despite falling on the wrong side of the influence/imitation fence, when it came down to it Pretty Boy Floyd were a reasonably talented band. Stiles’ lyrics are at worst atrocious (witness, “48 hours! 48 hours! 48 hours to rock!”
from the cleverly titled ’48 Hours’), but melodically he’s as gifted as they come, easily outstripping Nikki Sixx in terms of output at the time of release. Bassist Vinnie Chas started out in bands with Alice In Chains’ Jerry Cantrell and Summers was at least a competent guitarist in the Van Halen/Bratta mould, but it was drummer Kari Kane who really lifted the group, an uncomplicated but extremely talented sticksman in the Tommy Lee mould.
Their sound, while definitely streamlined (thanks in no small part to producer Howard Benson (My Chemical Romance, All-American Rejects), has at least the edge and some of the intensity which bands like Guns N’ Roses had brought back to the ailing rock scene. And, while not achieved as expertly as Appetite For Destruction
or even Too Fast For Love
, Leather Boyz
does manage to dress a sweet pop record as anything but a pop record, and despite the token ballads it’s more or less a straightforward hard rock record, oozing with heavy rocking riffs and rolling double-bass kicks and little in the way of pretension.
The best examples come early in the record; the title track opens proceedings with trashy, fast-paced riffing and gang vocals, while lead single (and hit) ‘Rock & Roll (Is Gonna Set The Night On Fire)’ is pretty much self-explanatory, a driving radio rock track that incorporates Warrant-like multi-tracked vocal screams. Ballad ‘Only The Young’ stands out for its cool dynamics, while hit single ‘I Wanna Be With You’ finishes the album on a high note (in both senses), betraying its early ‘80s origins by way of the Too Fast
-era Sixx verse and Def Leppard-style vocal attack on the chorus. Mötley Crüe’s ‘Toast of the Town’ (also from Too Fast For Love
) gets the cover treatment, and the arrangement is nothing if not reverential, right down to the uncannily similar vocal tracks.
So, for all their whining, bitching and kickboxing, Pretty Boy Floyd were actually a half-decent band, and Leather Boyz With Electric Toyz
clearly demonstrates that they’d probably be a lot better if they could manage to work together for more than twenty minutes instead of igniting a royalty dispute any time they feel the need to release some new music. Aeriel Stiles went on to become a successful ghost songwriter and author of fiction, while Summers and Majors (if
the allegations are true) appear to have gone the same route, albeit with the intent to deceive built in. Funny how things work out.