GODDAMN! Thats Glam!
Tigertailz - Bezerk (1990)
Kim Hooker - Lead and backing vocals
Jay Pepper - all guitars & mandolin
Pepsi Tate - Bass
Ace Finchum- Drums
Producer: Chris Tsangarides (Judas Priest including Painkiller, King Diamond (Conspiracy), Tattooed Millionaire (Bruce Dickinson), Black Sabbath (The Eternal Idol), among others)
I am very excited to discuss the undisputed greatest Welsh glam band of all time, Tigertailz. No it is not the latest & greatest in toddler's programming, these Welsh rockers put both the GLAM and the METAL in Glam Metal. I find a lot of glam metal bands lean too hard in one direction, but these big, multicolored hair metal maniacs found the perfect balance throughout Bezerk, their second album.
My quick Tigertailz story is from my freshman year in college. I was in brand new surroundings and didn't know a single person. I became obsessed with discovering as many glam metal bands as possible. Imagine my exuberance when I discovered Tigertailz. Not only did they sound bitchin', they look even more BITCHIN'! Naturally, I needed to tell the world about this. So I am telling some dude at dinner at the cafeteria about this new glam band I found from Wales. He looked at me like how did I end up sitting next to this dork. Oh did I mention my freshman year of college was 2007. Yeah, I was a weird kid and I didnt make many friends. :P
Now let me tell kids nowadays have it easy. When I first heard Tigertailz, I could only find their music videos on Youtube, those being "Love Bomb Baby" and "Livin' Without You". The former is supposed to be that big saccharine, crossover anthem, It is not represented of how badass Bezerk is. It features the all time great, cheeze 'n' sleeze line "You're not a lady; You're a Love Bomb Baby!" which is delivered with such conviction it always makes me laugh. It is reminiscent of those fun bubbleglam numbers from early Sweet. I am a sucker for a big chorus. It may not be the greatest song Tigertailz ever produced but it big, dumb fun. "Livin Without You" is actually off the next album, Banzai. This song is a cross between a mid-tempo rocker and a power ballad, it sort of fits in that "Here I Go Again" region. It is too upbeat to be a power ballad, but deals with the usual power ballad lyrical content. Again, I just love how big the chorus is on this. I figured Tigertailz with their quintessential glam look and syrupy sweet anthems was a fun glam, little did I know they were actually one of the best sleaze bands there ever was.
Then a miracle happened in my year of graduate school, I figured out how to use Blogs to download full albums. For years, I would stare at Wikipedia and I would think to myself, "Man I wonder what Sick Sex sounds like". :P
When I finally heard them, they exceeded my expectations! I was expecting a band that sounded very similar to "Love Bomb Baby", but instead I got a wicked sleazy Judas Priest with big gang Def Leppard choruses.
Before we get into the song by song breakdown, lets talk about the overarching themes of the album. The production is phenomenal. Tigertailz may have had big hair, but they clearly wanted an even BIGGER sound and that was achieved on this album. It is easy to make everything sound too loud on an album like this, but that is not what happens. The mix is perfect with everyone working together to kick ass and it is a very song-oriented album. What I mean by that is the goal of each song is make the best possible song not to showcase the singer or guitarist or the rhythm section. It is very clear that Tigertailz love really big, infectious choruses and heavy metal riffing thats what they wanted to showcase. When you really want the song to succeed over an instrument, the whole album will succeed.
I think it helps that there is no clear star on this album. This is not a guitar album. There is no wild shredding. The guitar riffs come out of the Judas Priest stacatto riffing playbook or from 70s glam rock with the big, catchy noisy riffs. Pepper plays short, melodic solos that either restate the melody of the song or are quick bursts of energy. The rhythm section does a great job grooving and the whole time they are laying down a beat that makes you want to bang your head or as I am writing this rock your head and shoulders back and forth. No one is going to be blown away by the technical ability of Kim Hooker's singing, he is no Axl Rose, but he does a great job bringing the sleaze to these songs. Sleaze metal is so much about attitude and Hooker has loads of it. You want someone that can preen, sneer, and scream. I think it is the total package that makes Tigertailz so unique.
They have the big choruses of Def Leppard or Poison, but they are more metal. Then you say well Ratt is really just sleazy Judas Priest and I fucking love Ratt, but Tigertailz has way bigger choruses. Then on top of that Tigertailz bring the Second Wave of Glam sleaze promoted by Faster Pussycat and LA Guns so they are more cutting edge than the more mainstream glam acts. So when you combine the sleaze, the big choruses and the staccato heavy metal riffing, you get the quintessential glam metal band that also happens to look the part with the HUGE, multi-colored hair, all the makeup and jewelry. Besides Motley Crue, who fucking invented genre, I dont think there is a band that better encapsulates Glam Metal than Tigertailz and thats might high praise.
"Sick Sex" lyrically opens with a "She's a barbed-wire baby with a broken glass heart", not only is this a sick lyric, but it is shockingly pretty deep for a dumb, glam metal band. No one ever tells you that you too can get cut by someone's broken heart, but hey it happens and it is life. The pummeling riff in this song is such a great headbanger. It is basic, but it is wicked catchy. Hooker's voice is perfect for the sleaze genre, a perfect combination of preening and sneering with a nice strain to it. I love the gang chorus bark of "Sick Sex" by the band while Hooker sings the rest of the chorus over the top. This song along is quintessential sleaze metal similar to what was peddled by Faster Pussycat and LA Guns. As much as I love those bands, what I love about Tigertailz is they keep it very metal and marry it with the sleazy vocal stylings of the time.
My other favorite song is "I Can Fight Dirty Too", Pepsi Tate is the most famous member of Tigertailz and sadly has died of Pancreatic Cancer at the way too young age of 42 back in 2007. This song is all him from that great bass intro that immediately hooks you in to the great groove that keeps you headbanging the whole time. The claws are out in this one as the scratchy guitar riff lets you know the boys mean business. Tigertailz really shows their aggressive side on this one. The preening is gone and it is just this nasty sneer. I really liked the used of gang vocal barking throughout the song not just on the chorus. As a pro wrestling fan, I really enjoy simulated danger and this song does a great job simulating danger.
The second half of the album is the very glammy part of the album. You can really tell these guys loved the original Glam Rock movement of the 1970s, but they do a great job updating for the glam-sleaze era of the late 80s/early 90s. "Love Overload" has an excellent rumble to it and some great drumming. All the songs on the back half have huge choruses and "Love Overload" is no exception. "Love Overload" has this cool almost rap bridge into funk breakdown. Tigertailz always keeps you on your toes. "Action City" is a fun song, but probably what most would call filler, but I love their style and sound so much that really enjoy this too. "Twist & Shake" takes you back to a simpler times. It is an interesting contrast to a song like "Sick Sex". It feels wholesome and innocent ("Sha la la la" opening and the very dulcet chorus). Even though, it is clear that Kim just wants the mom distracted long enough so he can get into the daughter's pants. The last two songs are really phenomenal cuts.
"Squeeze It Dry" begins with an outtake from Looney Tunes, but has such big electricity to it. One aspect I love about Glam Metal is the energy. This song is absolutely infectious. You pretty much can't go wrong with a gang chorus of "Woah Woah Woah". You definitely go wrong making an allusion to AC/DC's badass "Have A Drink On Me". The rhythm section in this is so damn good, so big and bouncy. The chorus of "Squeeze It Dry" is massive and the pounding drums behind it just make it one of the best choruses of the Glam Metal Era. Then you get this beautiful string arrangement with Hooker singing over it before going into a wicked fun double time breakdown.
Now if you thought "Squeeze It Dry" had a great chorus, check out "Call of the Wild". If "Squeeze It Dry" was a ten, the boyz in Tigertailz figured out how to crank it to 11 on "Call of the Wild". You hear the pre-chorus and you think ok that's pretty awesome and then you hear the actual chorus and your mind is fucking blown. It is JUST MASSIVE! On just about every glam metal album, there is one speed metal song. I love when glam and speed metal marry. It may seem like an odd combination, but it can really kick you in the ass. The double bass from the drummer just sounds great. In my opinion, Jay Pepper saves his best solo for last as he really lets it rip on this song.
I love this album top to bottom there is really no bad song. Even the token power ballad, "Heaven" is pretty solid. Like I said I think what I love about this album is Tigertailz really puts the GLAM and the METAL in Glam Metal.