Cut-Rate Comebacks

Stryper leads the charge of reunion shows nobody asked for.

Boy Gets Girl Beck Center, 17801 Detroit Avenue, Lakewood Through October 26, 216-521-2540
Good God: Stryper is back.
Good God: Stryper is back.
The only thing worse than a Stryper reunion tour is Stryper's justification for a reunion tour.

"I feel that God's hand was involved in it," frontman Michael Sweet recently told Maybe so, Mike, but if the Good Lord were indeed lending a hand, it surely would be to flip you the bird.

Even Christ probably prefers not to mix his rock with religion. Stryper -- four longhairs in black-and-yellow spandex, wielding Aquanet for the Almighty -- was one of the first groups to force the two together. They were platinum proselytizers, emboldened by their debut album, To Hell With the Devil, which paved the way for Scott Stapp and company a decade later. If Stryper's Christian rock sounded no worse than that of its glam-rock peers, at least Poison had the good sense to sing about getting laid.

Now a spandex-free Stryper is back, for some reason other than popular demand. Its stop at the Phantasy this Friday, October 10, gives us occasion to reflect on the lamest rock reunions in recent memory. Stryper fits in admirably on this shit list:

The Dead Kennedys
Forget about lynching the landlord, let's lynch East Bay Ray, D.H. Peligro, and Klaus Flouride for resuscitating the legendary California band without Jello Biafra, its punk-politico frontman. His whining about stealing people's mail and killing the poor, shouted over jet-powered guitars, was a tad over the top; it also lent DK a sardonic edge that nobody else could match. But after a falling-out that led the remaining members to sue Biafra and his Alternative Tentacles label for back royalties (a suit the band won), Jello wanted no part of the DKs' reunion tour. And so the group enlisted former child actor Brandon Cruz, late of The Courtship of Eddie's Father. Yuck. We'd rather watch Diff'rent Strokes reruns.

Kingdom Come
After waiting two decades for a Led Zeppelin reunion, we're instead rewarded with an encore from these Page and Plant pretenders. When Kingdom Come's first single, "Get It On," dropped in 1988, many thought it marked an actual Zeppelin reunion. Turns out it was a gang of counterfeit cock-rockers, and a backlash quickly ensued (the band came to be known as Kingdom Clone). A pair of follow-up records tanked, which sent Kingdom Come off to that fertile land for washed-up rockers: Germany. They played off and on throughout the '90s, and now they're hitting the road this winter. Here's hoping this Kingdom comes and goes quickly. Or not at all.

Appropriately named after a dog, this pop-rock sextet was the Carl Lewis of crappy late '70s bands, outpacing such formidable competition as Styx, Foreigner, Kansas, and Boston. All the AOR abominations loomed large: nancy-boy vocals, masturbatory guitars, queasy keys, albums with swords on the cover. Combined with stomach-turning odes to Rosanna Arquette and dragons, it all rang with the melodic quality of an airhorn. The band is back on the road these days, following a decade of sporadic recording that no one actually ever listened to.

Thin Lizzy
There's not enough whiskey in any jar for us to buy into Thin Lizzy's amazingly half-assed stab at a reunion. Lizzy was bassist/frontman Phil Lynott; when he died, so did the band. Lynott wrote the lion's share of the material, including "The Boys Are Back in Town" -- the song that made Thin Lizzy famous. Lynott's charisma and working-class prose were the reasons to tune in. The only member of the original band that's part of the current lineup is second guitarist Scott Gorham, who had only sporadic songwriting credits throughout its run. Whitesnake wanker John Sykes is also on board, having contributed to Lizzy's lukewarm final LP, Thunder and Lightning. The band hits Peabody's on October 20 with Cleveland metal favorites Boulder, whose dual-guitar fireworks sound more like vintage Lizzy than the headliner will.

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