The rise of grunge in the early ’90s catalyzed the demise of many beloved (and equally bemoaned) glam ‘hairbands’. It was a time of bonehead lyrics, ridiculous guitar solos and even more ridiculous outfits, but it was also a time of big fat hooks, sticky melodies and boatloads of harmonies. The songs were “carefree rock” that, in most cases, were just plain fun to listen to. Like them or not, their popularity at the time cannot be denied.
As most of these million-selling artists were suddenly driven from the Billboard charts and shunned by their record labels, a small label called CMC International stepped up to become the afterlife for hairbands. This allowed a handful of them to continue releasing records through the ’90s, but many groups caved to musical fads; attempting to incorporate grunge and alternative rock at the expense of the sugary melodies and easy-to-understand lyrics that had earned them fans in the first place. By the end of the ’90s “big hair rock” was clearly dead and it seemed to have taken AOR with it.
So here we are, ten years on, and we’re seeing new labels like Italy’s Frontiers Records proudly releasing AOR and glam rock like it was still 1989. This is a real treat for those who miss the days of Slaughter, Poison and Warrant, and there is a niche of 30- and 40-somethings that will gladly shell over their cash to hear some new blood bring life back to this genre. Frontiers Records champions new bands that have taken up the glam baton, as well as “classic” bands that are still alive and kickin’, and for this week’s spotlight we delve into some of Frontiers’ latest releases from Keel, Jaded Heart, Wig Wam and Blanc Faces.