'80s Compilation Week 2: Rhino's YOUTH GONE WILD [1996 and 1998]


Contrary to what HERC might have led us to believe thus far, the Eighties were not all about New Wave, Pop, Rap or even Country music, which enjoyed a surge in popularity in part due to Urban Cowboy.  Blues-based Heavy Metal music also saw an evolution as a new generation of bands blended punk riffs and pop hooks into their music while adopting a Glam Rock influenced aesthetic of androgyny.  (This is the music scene the movie Rock Of Ages was all about.)  Rhino Records launched their celebration of Eighties Hard Rock and Mainstream Metal music with the first three volumes of Youth Gone Wild: Heavy Metal Hits of the '80s in 1996, shortly after the emergence of Grunge had all but eradicated it from the airwaves.  Each disc features fourteen songs.

Volume 1 of the series begins nicely with the succinct statement of "Rock You Like A Hurricane" from the Scoprions.  Although they had been around since the Sixties, the group's music was welcomed with open arms by new metal fans.  HERC saw the Scorpions live three times in the 1980s and each time was awed by the diversity of the crowds: young and old, male and female.  Most metal concert crowds in the Eighties tended to be young and male with nary a female in sight.  This new metal sound changed all that.

Although overall weaker in track selection than the first disc, Volume 2 does begin with the simple plea of Great White's "Rock Me", continuing the popular music tradition of using the word "rock" in place of, as Sheldon Cooper would say, another word for "coitus".  The song is presented here in it's full-length, album version glory of over seven minutes and remains a wonderful car stereo system workout.

Only slightly better than the preceding volume, Volume 3 once again sees the first track of the disc define the task at hand.  Whitesnake's "Still Of The Night" features the same slow-burning sonics heard on track 1s of the previous CDs  in the series with former Deep Purple vocalist David Coverdale's pipes preaching the gospel of rock.  Another standout track is Kingdom Come's "Get It On" which initially caused many impressionable young metal heads to believe that Led Zeppelin had been regrouped due to Lenny Wolf's uncanny vocal similarity to Robert Plant.

The patchwork pants on the cover are the first clue that Volume 4, released two years after the initial three volumes, is made up of leftovers and lesser choices including several songs from the 1990s.  The one pleasant surprise on the disc is TNT's "10,000 Lovers (In One)" which is a short sweet pop-metal masterpiece.  HERC doesn't ever recall hearing the song or seeing the video for it until he came across this album.  Since then, it has popped up frequently in the 80's Hairbands playlist on SongPop.

While there are obvious bands and songs missing from these first four volumes, the beauty of Spotify is the ability to create virtual albums free of the restraints that governed the licensing and assembling of the previous volumes.  HERC remains a big fan of the genres of music that became known as "hair metal" and "pop metal" - and they are two distinct looking if not sounding genres - so he presents us with four additional volumes in the series.

Volume 5 is made up of the big groups that weren't included on the first four volumes.  Amongst metal purists, AC/DC, Van Halen, Aerosmith and Metallica don't make the cut.  HERC must not be a purist as he has included all four on Vol. 5 along with songs from Def Leppard (like AC/DC, they are not on Spotify but represented via Local Files), Bon Jovi, Motely Crue, Guns N Roses and Kiss.

Volume 6 has HERC's favorite tracks from bands that were included in the first five volumes plus a few extras like the series title track "Youth Gone Wild" by Skid Row and the most popular glam metal band of the 2000s, Steel Panther and their radio friendly battle cry of "Death To All But Metal".

Volume 7 is dedicated to MRS. HERC and features some of her favorite power ballads mostly from bands she saw in concert at HERC's side.  These are the Bic-flickers, people.

Volume 8 features cover versions.  And these aren't the latter day covers from entire covers albums from Poison and Great White, these are the authentic cover songs from the Eighties, often buried on albums but sometimes being released as singles.  It should be noted that Quiet Riot's "Cum On Feel The Noize" is a cover of a Slade song and is oncluded on Vol. 1 in the series.

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