The Glam Slam Metal Jam

Featuring Poison, Warrant, Quiet Riot, and Enuff Z'nuff. Thursday, July 19, at Blossom

It ain't nothin' but a good time, or so the argument goes in favor of a spandex nostalgia tour like this one. But as Poison lead singer Bret Michaels might testify, a good time can have some ugly consequences for those who ignore the harsh facts behind the fun. Consider what they won't mention on VH1: that somehow, despite the gender-bending displays of lipstick, rouge, and Aqua Net, so-called glam metal bands like Poison managed to produce music that reinforced stereotypes instead of overthrowing them, recording songs that were as much a part of the Reagan/Bush era's backlash against women as were the conservative policies of the Gipper himself. That's why Warrant's Jani Lane can proudly claim that his band's "Cherry Pie" is the No. 3 strip club hit of all time, and why Michaels can sing "Talk Dirty to Me" without a trace of irony to a crowd dominated by homophobes. And it's also why Quiet Riot's Rudy Sarzo can still lick his bass like he did in the band's "Cum on Feel the Noize" video, without anyone accusing him of a desire for self-fellatio. None of these bands -- not even the clever, Beatlesque metal outfit Enuff Z'nuff -- has ever produced anything close to the intellectually challenging and truly radical music that came out of original glam rockers like T. Rex and David Bowie. And while all of them may seem attractive now, thanks to the promotion of victimhood that dominates today's metal, it's still difficult to get past just how naive they are. With songs that are as predictable as suburban blocks and lyricists too frightened to assert anything more than a call to let loose and have fun, no music can ask for less from its audience.