Monday, March 08, 2010

Spiders & Snakes' Arachnomania CD review

This 1991 dark glam release from the Los Angeles-based Spiders & Snakes was perhaps a day late and a dollar short for its time, but it's still a fun listen regardless. Below is a track-by-track review of this five-song disc.

"California Slide"

Starts out with a strong opening riff that has hints of Ratt's "You're In Love" with several whammy bar workouts in under a minute. The hook, however, is extremely obnoxious with singer-guitarist Lizzie Grey's incessant shrieking -- Ya sliddddeee...sliddddeee! Strong musicianship, but the vocals are a definite acquired taste. Fortunately, Grey's vocals are never quite this annoying again on Arachnomania.

Lyrically, you have the typical tales of gutter and glam: "It's getting so that nobody can think anymore / and everybody likes it that way / How you gonna run away leave your small town behind / when you're born in L.A."

"Captain Tripps"

Taking a cue from Operation:Mindcrime, this track opens with a news snippet about the threat of Mexican prostitutes spreading AIDS to American men. Nice to see a burgeoning social conscience!

This track builds from power ballad arpeggios with touches of layered lead guitar during the verses to a chorus that's all NWOBHM double-paced hooks.

The Captain Tripps of the title is a menacing Twister Sister-like protagonist ("Captain Howdy," anyone?) and there's probably some connection between his misdeeds and the Mexican prostitutes, but it's eluding me at this point.

"The End of Marylou"

Lest Spiders & Snakes be branded a bunch of misogynists, the next track bounces back with a very sensitive story of a woman who wants out of a neglectful marriage. She dreams of going to school, and the lyrics show a deep empathy that lets belies the band's party hardy facade. It's the kind of populist songwriting you might hear from Bruce Springsteen or John Mellencamp.

The music is propulsive with possible hints of keyboard seemingly buried deep in the mix. It's almost Dio-esque in its momentum, in the way "We Rock" is a full-steam ahead chugger.

"Little Willie"

It's good to hear somebody picking up on this Sweet classic, joining the likes of Krokus with their classic cover of Sweet's "Ballroom Blitz."

Too often it seems like hair metal bands were only fixated on the equally talented Slade when it came to their choice of covers. Recall Quiet Riot with "Cum on Feel the Noize" and "Mama Weer All Crazee Now" and Britny Fox with "Gudbuy T'Jane."

Unfortunately, Grey's delivery sounds like he's Ric Ocasek of the Cars.

"Billion Dollar Babies"

Grey does a great Alice Cooper, mimicking every vocal nuance of Alice Cooper, right down to the double-tracked vocals of talking and singing during the verses.

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