Warrant singer/songwriter Jani Lane was found dead at a hotel in Los Angeles, CA on August 11, 2011.

Dirty Rotten... Warrant - Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinking Rich (Columbia) 1988

1.    Thirty-two Pennies (3:09)
2.    Down Boys (4:03)  
3.    Big Talk (3:43)
4.    Sometimes She Cries  (4:44)
5.    So Damned Pretty  (Should Be Against the Law) (3:33)      
6.    D.R.F.S.R.  (3:17)     
7.    In the Sticks  (4:06)      
8.    Heaven  (3:57)   
9.    Ridin' High  (3:06)    
10.  Cold Sweat  (3:32)

I swear that 1988 was the year of cheesy ballads and way to slick, keyboard saturated production, all being released under the guise of heavy metal. Some of my favorite bands released albums just like this that year. Stryper released the ultra-slick "In God We Trust". Frehley’s Comet released the keyboard saturated "Second Sighting". Celtic Frost went from the dark, menacing metal they were known for to a more commercial sound with "Cold Lake". Ratt released the poppy "Reach for the Sky" and shared the same producer as Winger, who would release their debut. A year earlier Motley Crue release the super slick “Girls Girls Girls” and Def Leppard released their "Hysteria" album with the detestable "Pour Some Sugar On Me" single, and on and on the list goes. Slick production, keyboards, pop rockers, radio ballads, power ballads and more sappy ballads. This was also the year that Warrant released their debut record on Columbia titled "Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinking Rich", with producer Beau Hill.  Being the year of the keyboard and ballads, that’s exactly what Warrant and Hill delivered. "Heaven" and "Sometimes She Cries" are the epitome of 1988 spandex and hairspray pop rock. At this point I was really beginning to detest this stuff. Despite a cover that I thought looked pretty metal, I ignored this album for the most part, though it was hard to ignore hits like "Down Boys" being played everywhere. (Actually I kinda liked that song.) Winger and Warrant were quickly added to a list of bands I put on my ignore list based solely on their reputation for cheesy ballads and hairspray drenched "poser"  metal.

Decades later and I discovered some great releases like "Dog Eat Dog" and even "Cherry Pie". I found "Cherry Pie" to be quite good, despite the sappy title track. Why "Cherry Pie" was a big hit and not "Uncle Tom’s Cabin" is a mystery for the ages, as it's a far superior song. "Dog Eat Dog" was also a solid hard rock album. It contained some ballads as well, but these ballads seemed to bleed genuine emotion rather than being made for radio, keyboard drenched, sickening love ballads. So with that, I had to give "Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinking Rich" a fair chance. Honestly, this album doesn’t hold a candle to the follow-ups. "Sometimes She Cries" is a wretched song that honestly is as bad as "Pour Some Sugar On Me". Likewise "Heaven" is a sickening, made-for-radio ballad. Neither of these songs seem to have that genuine emotion of a song like "I Saw Red" or "April 2031".

The more rockin’ songs aren't bad. "Down Boys" is a sing-along anthem with big hooks. "So Damn Pretty" is an upbeat hard rocker that also sports a big hooky chorus. "Ridin’ High" is a decent hard rocker as well, though held back by the way too slick production that strips the rock and roll right out of the songs. "Cold Sweat" is not a cover of the classic Thin Lizzy song, though that might have been cool. The song is actually a straight forward hard rock song that finishes off the album. Vocalist Jani Lane has a superb voice for this style of music and is a proficient song writer. However, follow-up albums are far better than this debut.

Of course millions of people disagree with me on this one. It bore a several hit singles including "Heaven" (#2, 1989), "Down Boys" (#27, 1989) and "Sometimes She Cries" (#20, 1990) and made the Billboard Top Ten that year.

Human Hell Warrant – Cherry Pie (Columbia) 1990

1.    Cherry Pie (3:21)
2.    Uncle Tom's Cabin (4:02)       
3.    I Saw Red (3:47)       
4.    Bed of Roses (4:04)       
5.    Sure Feels Good to Me (2:39)       
6.    Love in Stereo (3:07)      
7.    Blind Faith (3:33)       
8.    Song and Dance Man (2:58)       
9.    You're the Only Hell Your Mama Ever Raised (3:34)      
10.  Mr. Rainmaker (3:29)       
11.  Train, Train (2:49)
12.  Ode to Tipper Gore (:58)
13. Game of War [demo] (3:38)
14. The Power [demo] (3:00)

Warrant’s "Cherry Pie" either solidified the band as one of fan’s favorites, or it became their condemning point to metal fans. Unfortunately for this metal fan, for many, many years, I never even bothered to give this one a listen. I was of the opinion that real metal fans don’t listen to this tripe. After I dropped the macho crap some years ago, I started discovering that I actually liked bands like Slaughter and Warrant. "Cherry Pie" is a very good CD. The album was produced by Beau Hill, who had also helped propel the careers of Ratt and Winger, as well as helped resurrect the career of Alice Cooper. The CD starts off with the band’s biggest hit, which is still in regular rotation on rock radio twenty years later. It’s a fun party rocker, though certainly not the best song on the CD. "Sure Feels Good To Me" is one of the fastest, hardest rockin’ songs on the album and among my favorites. As well, "Uncle Tom’s Cabin" is a great, moody hard rock song. This song sort of has a Tesla vibe to it. Of course, what would a glam metal band be without a few ballads? On "Cherry Pie" there is a beautiful ballad about love gone band titled "I Saw Red" as well as the semi-acoustic "Blind Faith". Had I known that Warrant chose Blackfoot’s “Train, Train” as a cover, I probably would have checked out this album much earlier. This is a classy choice for a cover song. The album ends with a compilations of expletives and other such nonsense as an "Ode to Tipper Gore".

"Cherry Pie" was reissued as a remastered and expanded edition in 2004. Included as bonus tracks are two previously unreleased demo tracks. The re-issue also includes a 12-page booklet with lyrics and a short bio.

Dog Eat Dog Warrant – Dog Eat Dog (Columbia) 1992

1.    Machine Gun ( 3:44)
2.    The Hole in the Wall (3:30)
3.    April 2031 (5:05)      
4.    Andy Warhol was Right (3:37)      
5.    Bonfire (4:20)      
6.    The Bitter Pill (4:06)      
7.    Hollywood (So Far, So Good) (3:46)      
8.    All My Bridges are Burning (3:36)     
9.    Quicksand (3:57)     
10.  Let It Rain (4:15)      
11.  Inside Out (3:38)    
12.  Sad Theresa (3:35)

"Dog Eat Dog" was Warrant’s third release and was recorded at the infamous metal factory, Morrisound Studios in Florida. As such, "Dog Eat Dog" is Warrant’ heaviest recording. Oddly enough, this album was considered to be a commercial failure, despite the fact that the album was certified gold. After this album, Warrant would go in search for a more "modern" sound. For me, "Dog Eat Dog" was the band’s best album. This album has it all, heavy riffs, catchy songs, melody, sing-along choruses, etc.  Basically, Warrant cranked it up to eleven on this CD. The band added some new elements to their sound as well. On the ultra-catchy “Hole in the Wall” the band incorporates some talk-box guitar soloing, made popular by Peter Frampton on "Comes Alive". Whereas Warrant’ debut was more like Winger meets the more commercial Skid Row, on "Dog Eat Dog" Warrant sounds more like the heavier Skid Row meets Aerosmith "Rocks". Yes, for the most part, Warrant have dropped the spandex and Aqua Net and at least for this album have gone for the tougher denim and leather sound. Even the more melancholy songs come off as more genuine, such as the moody "April 2031".  Likewise "Sad Theresa" is a beautiful song. "Andy Warhol was Right" starts off as an acoustic ballad and builds into a heavy, progressive rock song complete with orchestration. Likewise, "The Bitter Pill"  starts off sounding like it might be a ballad but rises and fall from the melancholy verses to the hard rocking chorus. There is a bridge to this song as well that sound very Queen inspired complete with a bluesy guitar solo. "Let It Rain" is a straight up heavy blues song, complete with backing female vocals. The rest of the album rocks hard. "Machine Gun" and "Bonfire" are both excellent tracks that easily could have been huge hits had they been released only two or three years earlier. "Inside Out" is a straight up, pissed off, speed metal rocker.

Warrant, like Slaughter, Tesla, Winger, White Lion and many other "hair bands" of the 80’s, are one of those bands that I ignored based on a ridiculous macho-metal attitude. How is it metal fans accepted Skid Row, but outright rejected Warrant? Frankly, I find this to be a very enjoyable album. When I am wrong, I admit it. With Warrant, I was wrong. Thanks to Vexer6 for sending these CDs and proving me wrong.

Warrant – Ultraphobic
(CMC International) 1995

1.    Undertow (3:13)
2.    Followed (3:41)
3.    Family Picnic  (4:43)    
4.    Sum Of One (3:38)      
5.    Chameleon (5:23)      
6.    Crawl Space (2:39)      
7.    Live Inside Of You (3:17)      
8.    High (4:02)      
9.    Ride #2  (5:07)     
10.  Ultraphobic (4:26)     
11.  Stronger Now (4:00)
Jani Lane

Warrant's Jani Lane 2008

In the mid 1990’s it was quite popular for the old guard of 80’s party-hard, hair metal bands to tune down their guitars, remove the make-up, ditch the spandex and take a stab at the alternative/grunge cat. With "Ultraphobic" that is exactly what Warrant attempted to do. Yes, this is stylistically very different from the feel-good, party rock that Warrant became known for with "Cherry Pie". Whether or not anyone thinks this experimentation with more modern sounds was successful or not is purely a matter of opinion. I can certainly see why hardcore fans of the band’s 80’s party sound would be disappointed with this. "Ultraphobic" is to Warrant what "Slang" is to Def Leppard or "Generation Swine" to Motley Crue. It’s nearly impossible to separate these bands from their past. However, "Ultraphobic" is far from a bad album. The first three songs here are some of the hardest rocking songs to come out of Warrant. "Family Picnic" oozes with genuine emotion. "Chameleon", as well, is drenched with genuine emotion and could easily have been a radio single. Of course Warrant’s brand of hard rock, no matter how much they tried to adapt to the times, would never be accepted by a new generation of fans and rock radio ignored this album. "Sum Of One" is an attempt at a melodic, 1990’s radio ballad and the closest to old Warrant on this album. "Crawl Space" has a dark, heavy groove that would have fit well on a King’s X album. "Stronger Now" is an acoustic ballad that deals with the emotions of divorce, which singer Jani Lane was going through at the time. This is not to say that the entire album is solid. Frankly, songs like "Ride #2" and "High" didn’t really trip my trigger. Overall, however, this is no where near the dog that Def Leppard’s "Slang" was. I wonder if this album had been released under some other band name if it would have been much more popular in 1995.

It should also be noted that "Ultraphobic" featured a new line-up. Original Warrant guitarist Joey Allen and drummer Steven Sweet were gone and replaced by guitarist Rick Steier and drummer James Kottak.

Belly to Belly Warrant 96 - Belly to Belly: Volume One (CMC International) 1996

1.   In the End (There’s Nothing) (3:12)
2.   Feels Good (2:51)
3.   Letter to a Friend (4:33)
4.   A.Y.M. (2:50)
5.   Indian Giver (4:54)
6.   Falling Down (3:56)
7.   Interlude # 1 (:11)
8.   Solid (3:13)
9.   All 4 U (3:40)
10. Coffee House (4:37)
11. Interlude # 2 (:18)
12. Vertigo (2:36)
13. Room With a View (2:59)
14. Nobody Else (4:13)

For Warrant's fifth studio release the glam rockers attempted to shed the 'glam' tag and jump head long onto the then popular alternative rock bandwagon. They even tried to go for a name change, wanting to be known as "Warrant 96". I'll be quite honest up-front and say, unlike "Ultraphonic", I just don't care much for this album. What I enjoy about the band's first three platters is that they rocked fairly hard, they were incredibly catchy and they were fun. With the possible exception of "rocking hard", the rest of the formula has been abandoned for depressing, grungy, alternative rock. "Belly to Belly" is a continuation of the sound on "Ultraphobic" but there was still something appealling about that album. This just sounds forced and rushed. A quick check on-line reveals that my assumptions were correct as the album was basically written in a weeks time and thrown together in less than a month, including recording and mix time. Some will argue that this was an attempt at more serious rock and roll and a move away from the cheesy 80's sound. Granted. However, I like "cheese" but I don't like "crap".

Jani Lane had a knack for writing interesting lyrics at times. (Yes, I know, "Cherry Pie" isn't Shakespeare, but c'mon, it's rock and roll!) From what I’ve read, he was going through a nasty divorce at the time this album was being written. That makes sense when you pay attention to the lyrics. "Belly to Belly" a fairly angry album at times. I find it amusing that "A.Y.M." (stands for Angry Young Man) makes fun of the angst-loving, grungy, Generation X, yet does so by being ironically grungy itself.

It should be noted that three original members are present here, Jani Lane, Erik Turner and Jerry Dixon. Rick Steier replaced Joey Allen on guitars and Bobby Borg replaces James Kottak on drums. "All For You" features a duet with the girlfriend of the part owner of the studio in which the record was produced. Oddly enough the album is titled with "Volume One". Thankfully, as of 2010, "Volume Two" never appeared.

Born Again Warrant - Born Again (MTM Music) 2006

1.    Devils Juice (3:27)
2.    Dirty Jack (4:01)
3.    Bourbon County Line (3:52)
4.    Hell, CA (4:20)
5.    Angels (4:33)
6.    Love Strikes Like Lightning (3:56)
7.    Glimmer (3:31)
8.    Roller Coaster (2:48)
9.    Down in Diamonds (3:59)
10.  Velvet Noose (3:01)
11.  Roxy (3:59)
12.  Good Times (4:11)

Some years ago I was in a club on the strip in Hollywood to see Uli Jon Roth live. Sitting at a table nearby was this long haired, 80’s rocker surrounded by a couple of girls that think the 80’s never ended. The individual was Jamie St. James. It was sort of dark in the club, so I asked my friend who this guy was. He replied, "that’s the new singer of Warrant, Jamie St. James". Right on! I always thought of St. James as the singer for the underrated Black n Blue.  

Warrant "Born Again" is the first Warrant album in ten years. This release marks the return of original lead guitarist Joey Allen and drummer Steven Sweet, along with holdovers; guitarist Erik Turner and bassist Jerry Dixon. "Born Again" is also the first Warrant album to not feature lead vocalist Jani Lane. This seems a bit odd, considering the Lane always seemed to be the driving force behind the band and was one of the principle songwriters. Enter former Black n Blue vocalist Jamie St. James, and Warrant couldn’t have found a better singer to replace Lane. St. James  is a fantastic vocalist who hasn’t lost a thing with age. Whether or not "Born Again" actually sounds like a Warrant album seems to be up for debate, especially among Warrant die-hards. Regardless, "Born Again" is a hard rocking, sleazy, good-time rock and roll album without even the slightest hint of the modern radio rock vibe. Nice production, great playing, fairly hard rocking, catchy songs, not stuffed full of lame ballads, there really isn’t anything not to like about this album. Ok, so it’s not "Cherry Pie Pt. II"! Frankly, I don’t know if that's really a bad thing.

Related Collections:
Black n Blue

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