Review Summary: A knowingly goofy slab of hard rock which is not as bad as it promises to be - provided you are in the right mindset.
If you think about it, records are like dates. Some charm the pants off you with their aura of pure class and distinction; some lure you in with their uniqueness, or at least by attempting to present their one unique asset that justifies spending time with them; some just have good banter (read: songs); and some are just goofy enough to make you laugh and bring you back for a second date, if not a long-term relationship.
Leather Boyz With Electric Toyz
is part of the latter group. The debut album from 80s hair-metal posers Pretty Boy Floyd (famous mainly for having inspired Ugly Kid Joe’s moniker) is the kind of date who, while by no means a long-term prospect, can always be relied on for a night of laughs and a general good time.
Hailing from Pennsylvania, PA (home of fellow glam-rockers Cinderella), the impeccably permed team of Steve “Sex” Summers (vocals), Kristy “Krash” Majors (guitar), Vinnie Chas (bass) and Kari Kane (drums) present absolutely nothing new in their 1989 breakthrough album – in fact, the overall sound and attitude of Leather Boyz
is pretty much a pastiche of what Motley Crue (by whom this bunch cover Toast Of The Town
) had been offering for a few years by that point, with just a pinch of Warrant added in for good measure. However, the group’s goofball attitude and penchant for an appealing chorus, coupled with the feeling that they know
they are posers and are just playing dress-up, goes a considerable length towards ingratiating Pretty Boy Floyd with the listener, prompting the dating comparison presented above.
In fact, this mind-set might be the only thing preventing more lenient glam-rock fans from considering this a bad album. For someone not predisposed to take what is presented here with a pinch of salt, Leather Boyz
will undoubtedly be dreadful, and ripe for parody. There is plenty here to make fun of, from the horrid cover to the blatant insincerity of power-ballad I Wanna Be With You
, through the brain-dead nature of the choruses and the members’ ridiculous monikers. For those people, this album will represent a shining example of all that was wrong with the glam rock movement of the 80’s, and no doubt gain the dubious honour of being included in someone’s “Worst Ever” list in a music discussion board somewhere on the Internet.
For those who are willing to roll with the group, however, [i]Leather Boyz[i] is a tremendous ride. Despite its derivative nature and potential for ridicule (or maybe because
of them), the album is great fun from start to finish, and manages to ingrain a good number of its choruses in the unsuspecting listener’s head, only for them to pop up at the most unexpected times. Sure, it is incredibly dumb – but sometimes, that is not such a bad thing. In the end, fans of the genre are bound to discover that their date with Pretty Boy Floyd was nowhere near as bad as it promised to be.
Early on, however, prospects do seem dire. Much like an over-eager, somewhat clueless date, the group try way too hard to impress in the first few tracks, frantically throwing mindless choruses and hard rock clichés at the wall in a desperate attempt to make sure the listener remembers them. As a result, the first portion of the album, while fun, is undoubtedly its weakest, and will fuel any arguments in favour of Pretty Boy Floyd being a talentless, derivative bunch of posers.
Which is not to say everything on this half of the record is bad. The opening track offers its share of good, cheesy hard rock fun, and both Wild Angels
and Toast Of The Town
have their charm, not to mention the whopping 48 Hours
, the first clear standout of the album. However, it is not until PBF come into their own, about halfway through the album, that one starts to see what the group really
has to offer – much like that seemingly hopeless date can suddenly get much better should the other person decide to relax and just be themselves.
For Pretty Boy Floyd, this transformation starts with Rock’n’Roll Outlaws
and is carried out in full on Only The Young
, hands down the best track on this album. Songs on this section have much more laboured structures and choruses, actually attempting to add some depth (insofar as ‘depth’ exists in a glam rock record) and variety to what has so far been a fun, but incredibly one-dimensional album. This intention is fully realised on Only the Young
and its follow-up track, The Last Kiss
, which drags the listener in with the catchiest guitar lead on the album, then follows it up with a chorus that almost qualifies as sophisticated – an almost laughable notion considering the ‘highly intelligent’ equivalents to a sledgehammer blow to the head found on earlier cuts.
Overall, this portion of the album is so good, that it predisposes the listener to excuse the group when they revert back to the goofiness of the earlier goings on the cringingly insincere I Wanna Be With You
- the musical equivalent of that moment when the goofy date, who had managed to straighten up and appear halfway charming, resorts to some cheesy pseudo-suave pick-up line in order to steal a kiss from their companion. However, even the smarmy nature of this blatantly transparent number is not enough to make listeners charmed by Only The Young
or The Last Kiss
anything more than slightly miffed at Pretty Boy Floyd.
Overall, then, the overall balance of Leather Boyz With Electric Toyz
is a positive one – if you are predisposed to accept heaping quantities of goofiness and cheese with your portion of hard rock, that is. Sure, the sound may be derivative – it is – and choruses may not be the most intelligent or subtle – they are not – but even at its worst (Your Mama Won’t Know
), the album is never anything less than acceptable and - much like the self-conscious nerd blushing as they try to appear confident and full of banter - its tongue-in-cheek nature can captivate the listener enough to make them overlook its flaws.
In the heyday of hair metal, where adherence to the genre du jour was a better guarantee of sales than actual quality, this will no doubt have had regular play in many a teenybopper’s stereo, as they danced around and gazed at their posters of Jon Bon Jovi. More than two decades later, it is highly unlikely to encounter the same degree of acceptance, but it may still find its niche among those who do not take all of their music all that seriously. For those, however, a warning: avoid the Special Edition re-release. It presents the listener with something the original album did not have – actually weaker tracks – and contributes nothing to the experience other than a decent Ramones cover. The regular, original release, however, is well worth a download, if only for a half-hour of chuckles and macho posturing.
Only The Young
The Last Kiss
I Just Wanna Have Something To Do (Special Edition)