I need to move to Finland … or Sweden … or Norway. They still get it over there – it’s as if grunge never wiped out hair metal. These countries are churning out bands with big blond hair and leather pants as quickly as the Sunset Strip in LA did in the late ’80s and early ’90s. And I couldn’t be happier.
Santa Cruz wouldn’t have been a huge band in the U.S. in 1989 – most likely they would have been a B- or C-list band headlining 500 seat clubs – but they’ve got the sound and the look that would have earned plenty of full-color pin-ups in Metal Edge.
You can hear a bunch of Santa Cruz’s cock rock songs here.
About 15 years ago, the publisher of a ‘zine I writing for (MOO Magazine) handed me a cassette labeled “Salty Dog Demos”. “You like these guys, right?” Tony asked, knowing full well that I was a hair metal fanatic. And while Salty Dog wasn’t exactly from the lipstick-and-leather Sunset Strip scene, they were often lumped into the hair metal category due to the fact that, well, they had long hair, wore leather pants, and played loud rock n’ roll.
The cassette had come from Tony’s friend, Michael Hannon. By the time that cassette reached my hands, Salty Dog was all but done – grunge had taken over and major labels like Geffen, which had released Salty Dog’s debut, Every Dog Has It’s Day, were dropping anything remotely hair metal related while trying to discover the next Nirvana. But what that tape held – eight demos that had been recorded as the foundation for Salty Dog’s second album – is something that people have been waiting to hear for 15 years.
By the time these songs were recorded, Salty Dog had jettisoned it’s singer, Jimmi Bleacher, due to his problems with drugs and had hired the singer of a Dallas, Texas hard rock cover band, Darrel Beach. As you’ll hear in the interview below with Michael, while Beach possessed an amazing voice, his attitude left a lot to be desired.
The following video was recorded in Michael’s basement last week, following his band’s (American Dog) appearance at a 3,000+ seat venue opening for Cinderella. I had originally intended on doing just an audio interview but at the last minute set my digital camera up on the bar and started recording. The quality of the video is poor and at some point around the 3 minute mark, the audio is no longer in sync with the video. But it’s the words – the reflections about the Salty Dog days and about the set of demos that were intended for Salty Dog’s second album – that really matter.
Please remember that the cassette from which these songs were transfered is at least 15 years old and therefore the MP3s sound the way they do for a reason. There is even a point during one of the songs where the song sounds a bit warped for a few seconds, probably because the cassette was buried in a box in my basement for so long. All that being said, take a listen to what might have been and enjoy!