Review Summary: Yet another inconsistent album from Warrant, this time full of covers.
This time Warrant needed five years to release a follow-up to a decent but passable Belly to Belly
. Not so long after the previous alternative rock-oriented album was out, glam metal began to crawl out from the shadows and regain some of the popularity among the wide audience that overdosed on despair and gloominess of grunge. Many 80s bands of various successfulness again got invited on tours, some of them even released new records, for the first time after years of inactivity. Of course, the scope and level of popularity was not the same but it is better than nothing.
As for Warrant, the whole time they remained afloat. They kept touring more or less successfully, which can be proved by their live album Warrant Live 1986-1997
. A couple of years after that they released compilation Greatest & Latest
that contained re-recorded versions of the main hits with 3 previously unreleased songs. Generally speaking it seemed the band with their leader Jani Lane experienced writer’s block. It’s like there was nothing else they could say creatively (even to the extent of their talents) so they chose to exist on the earlier successes. And arguably Under the Influence
confirms this thought as it consists of cover versions, with 2 originals tucked at the end.
Certainly Warrant decided to release this album pursuing financial interests and wanting to remind remaining fans of its existence. So this explains why all the covers included on the record are done the standard way – the band members’ (presumably) favorite songs were simply rerecorded using more up-to-date equipment and without any attempts to experiment or leave their own stamp. And, as usually the case, people familiar with the originals are not exactly thrilled at the opportunity to listen to such a take (why do they need to listen to cover versions, when they can always enjoy the source material?). However, the band should be given its due – the tracks presented on the album are both by more famous performers and partially forgotten, underappreciated ones. Hence together with AC/DC, Queen, David Bowie and Aerosmith we have Nazareth, Thin Lizzy, Badfinger, Cheap Trick and Michael Monroe of Hanoi Rocks. Also not all the songs are worn out hits, more often it is the other way around. This is definitely a plus.
The fact that covers are practically identical to the originals without any stabs at making them their own is the main minus here. Even in terms of execution the songs are hit and miss. As such Thin Lizzy’s Hollywood
, Michael Monroe’s Dead, Jail and Rock ‘n’ Roll
and David Bowie’s Suffragette City
can be called the most successful covers. They are performed with cheer and energy, and the right amount of eagerness, braggadocio and irony where necessary. Queen’s Tie Your Mother Down
, Cheap Trick’s Surrender
and AC/DC’s Down Payment Blues
are solid but not really outstanding. And Aerosmith’s Toys in the Attic
, Nazareth’s Hair of the Dog
and Badfinger’s Come and Get It
are disappointing – on the first two Jani Lane doesn’t measure up to the original performers in terms of liveliness and attitude, and the latter employs too much phaser, making vocals difficult to understand. Plus, the guitar on the two former songs is somewhat muddled and jumbled, it is especially noticeable on the fun “quacking” solo from Hair of the Dog
As for the two new songs, again they are nothing to write home about
: Sub Human
is a standard track in the style reminiscent of two last albums, and the ballad Face
is also a typical fare without any distinguishing qualities.
It must already be clear that Under the Influence
is pretty much a Warrant album with everything it entails. The performances are competent and decent but do not include anything that would allow to raise it above average. The only notable thing is the fact that this LP was the last one for Jani Lane. In 2004 he quit the band and did not participate in recording of subsequent albums.