Review Summary: This is why hair metal died.
Every trend, regardless of time and context, shares a common trait: every good, very good or even mildly interesting band spawns a veritable slew of third- and fourth-tier imitators. Quickly forgotten –if ever acknowledged at all – these bands are usually condemned to dwell in mediocrity for the duration of their (mercifully short) careers. A few of them may release a hit single, maybe even a couple of albums, but all ultimately fall prey to dwindling interest in the trend, invariably being among the first to be swept away by the next wave of musical fashionistas.
With glam rock, the story was no different, apart from one small detail: there were even less interesting bands than usual, and each had twice the clones. The huge success attained by each band in the genre, together with its extremely limited geographical range, led every group of semi-talented perma-haired hicks to believe they could be the next big thing. Hence the existence of such lame, derivative groups as Britny Fox, Tuff or our subject for today, Whitefoxx.
Come on, look at the group’s name and the album’s cover. Could you honestly expect something good to come from this band? Its moniker includes not one, but two
hard rock clichés: the inclusion of a white animal (a la Whitesnake, White Lion, White Tiger, Great White…) and the double-consonant misspelling (a la Tuff, Rough Cutt, Enuff Z’Nuff, Dokken…you get the drift). Its members look like the inmates at the local rehab clinic all dressed up for crossdressing night. And although they don’t have a song called Whitefoxx
, they have the next best thing: Fox In White
. Those are all bad, bad signs, and the result is exactly as painful as you would imagine.
Now, when I approach a hard/glam rock band, my curiosity is always high. Even from a tenth-tier underground band, I always expect at least a nice dose of over-the-top cheese. Which is part of the reason Whitefoxx are so disappointing. You see, this band has the looks and the cliched song titles down pat (Beverly Hills
, Bad Lovin’
, Renegades of Rock
), but their sound lacks that “so bad it’s good” quality other glam rock bands possess. This is just bad.
More puzzling is the fact that Whitefoxx initially benefited from the collaboration of some major names in the Philadelphia scene. These guys used to have Tony Harnell as a singer, for Pete’s sake! Not only that, Jeff LaBar of Cinderella was once their main axe-slinger. Obviously, neither of these luminaries stuck around for too long, leaving the inception of the bands one and only album to a bunch of no-name hicks. And, as you would expect, they botched it.
First things first: the singer. What the hell!? For a band that once had Harnell as a frontman to recruit a guy who cannot sing
is strange, to say the least. Fashionably-named Tipa Sparrs has absolutely zero talent, mostly sounding like someone who tried out for Kiss…and failed. That’s right, you know the quality vocals on Kiss albums? This guy can’t even reach that level, which obviously makes him a perfect choice to replace Tony Harnell. Like, duh!
On most of these tracks, Sparrs just sounds like an even more inept Paul Stanley. However, his attempts at breaking this mold come across as even more ridiculous than his regular register. On the atrocious Actions Speak Louder Than Words
, he sounds like one of those badly-produced singers on modern-day, underground power metal bands. On the subsequent Strangers
he goes for a softer, Bon Jovi vibe, basically sounding like a strangled version of Jon Bon. Not to mention he spends the greater part of Bad Lovin’ out of key
, topping it off with some god-awful falsettos. All in all, a bad performance, not aided by the shoddy production.
The rest of the band doesn’t exactly merit the “virtuoso” tag, either. The drummer uses the same beat at the beginning of nearly every song, making for very similar-sounding intros; the bass is audible enough, but basically just keeps the rhythm; and even the slightly shredding solos start to sound stale after a while (wow, that was a long alliteration!). The overall sound is rawer and cruder than your average glam band (closer to Kiss, in fact), but it’s all played so shoddily that not even the bare-bones approach lends it any charm.
The worst part, however, is that the songwriting itself is woefully uninspired. The first three songs all rip off one hard rock band or another: the guitar squeals in Beverly Hills
are very Cinderellian, Love is On The Way
is practically a rewrite of the Scorpions’ I’m Leaving You
and Right On Time
is basically a Firehouse song, which is probably why it’s the standout of this album. When left to their own devices, the band don’t fare much better, writing uninspired material like Bad Lovin’
and the woeful Actions Speak Louder Than Words
. To the band’s credit, they didn’t include any of those power ballads that were all the rage back then; however, their faster, rockier material fails so consistently that a ballad may even have been welcome. Suffice it to say, the album is only eight songs long, but even so, it drags on quite a bit at times.
So what’s good about it? Well, Right On Time
may be the only entirely good song on here, and if your expectation level is set to ‘low’, opener Beverly Hills
may entertain you as well. Towards the end, Renegades of Rock
features a humongous riff that looks like it could partially redeem the album, but the song quickly reverts to the same generic, boring mess of the rest of the album. The rest should have been left buried in 1987, and the album’s incomprehensible 2007 reissue can only be chalked up to the current wave of revivalism, which has brainwashed us into thinking “old” always stands for “good”. That isn’t always true, and Whitefoxx serve as living proof. Don’t bother.
Right On Time