Review by Brian McGowan
Shameless‘s sixth album stands conventional wisdom on its head. Glam Rock is one of those genres that’s been dragged across the decades, often by talentless bands, hammering nail after nail into the coffin of a popular music style that’s already suffered much derision – often deserved – even at its peak. But it refuses to die.
Beautiful Disaster is the living, breathing proof. And yet the band is something of a moveable feast, ricocheting between the USA and Germany, with a free-flowing line-up of musicians revolving around Alexx Michael, the band’s founder. Bruce Kulick, Eric Singer, Tracii Guns, Jani Lane, Brian Tichy and many others have funnelled through the band’s ranks since the debut in 1989.
The one constant is the music. The band started out championing the Glam/Bandana Rock of the Eighties, and the music has since evolved – over six albums – into a celebration of the genre that never tips over into parody or caricature. Well, not very often.
Current line-up, Michael, BC (the man known only by his initials, apparently), Steve (Pretty Boy Floyd) Summers, Stevie (Tuff) Rachelle, Tod T Burr and Keri Kelli really have gone the extra 1.6 kilometres with this one. It’s absolutely stuffed to the gills with newly minted, hard rock glam songs that shine with dayglo freshness, yet carry a reassuring air of familiarity. Plus a couple of well chosen covers.
Alexx Michael’s full fat production, compelling and lustrous, weaves sound FX and big orchestral moments into a variety of songs – like ‘Greed Is God’ and ‘Train To Hell’. These are elaborate and imaginative touches, persuasively matching style with substance, giving the music a slick veneer of grandeur and complexity. Not something you readily associate with the genre.
That’s neatly balanced by the apparent simplicity of songs like ‘Hold On To Your Dreams’ and ‘You’re Not Coming Home’, songs that gleam with the power of unashamed sentiment, unadorned melodies and unambitious lyrics.
And through it all you can’t help being held in thrall to Michael’s jawdroppingly inventive 3D arrangements. These are almost palpable, like you’re living among these songs, not just listening to them. In doing so, he’s added a weighty undertow to a musical style that’s often been dismissed as shallow and superficial.
Highlights elsewhere include a cover of Alice Cooper’s ‘Eighteen’, turning it into a pocket poprock symphony; The gorgeous, EZN like adrenaline rush of ‘Forever Ends Today’ and the delightful ‘Rock’n’Roll Girls’, raucously and joyously reminiscent of the stuff that CC Deville wrote way back, launching Poison into the Glam Rock stratosphere.
Thanks to high calibre bands like Crashdiet and Reckless Love, new blood is being mainlined into the genre. We should hope that Shameless get noticed too.
8 out of 10
- Greed Is God
- Dear Mum
- You’re Not Cinderella
- Forever Ends Today
- Fiction & Reality
- You’re Not Coming Home
- Train To Hell
- Hold On To Your Dreams
- Rock’n’Roll Girls
- Life’s A Gas