Monday, April 23, 2007

Lesser of two evils

It's time for another "Lesser of two evils" match-up. This time it's self-titled debut from Firehouse
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versus
The self-titled debut from Steelheart.

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Both came out in 1990 and I only heard their singles back then, but for some reason I used to get these two bands confused with each other. In recent years I got both out of the bargain bin. I think my biggest problem with both bands is that they come across as being a little generic, but today they get to battle it out and there will be a winner.

Lead singer
Mike Matijevic of Steelheart has a strong voice and a big range. A very solid talent and my guess is this was effortless for him. I am not totally convinced of his ability to project emotion at times, but that could be chalked up to the material. C.J. Snare of Firehouse isn't as bad as I remember him being. His voice flows with the music fairly well at times, but he lacks strength at times and his range is just okay.

Point to Steelheart

Guitarist
This category was the biggest surprise to me. Bill Leverty of Firehouse is in a numerical mismatch as he is one against the two Steelheart guitarists, who are Chris Risola and Frank Di Costanza. Guitarists from both bands are solid enough in their rhythms with Steelheart maybe being a little heavier, but slightly more repetitious. However it was in the solos where I noticed the difference and number of players didn't matter here. Bill Leverty has a pretty good of grasp of what constitutes a good solo. Largely his solos were short and to the point, but interesting. The solos from the guys from Steelheart were typical and even a little bland. Leverty also had an overall stronger groove to his playing and really helped keep some of his band's songs going.

Point to Firehouse

Rhythm section
So from Firehouse we have bass player Perry Richardson and drummer Michael Foster going against Steeheart bassist James Ward and drummer John Fowler. Bass players are even to me as neither stands out at all. Not so with drummers though as I listened closely. John Fowler kept the pace, but very typical. However Michael Foster had at least half a dozen songs where I could really here his change in rhythm and his playing helped keep some songs interesting.

Point to Firehouse

Production/originality
Production values on both albums are fairly solid, but safe as most major label releases of this sort were at the time. Neither stands above the other in that department. To be honest I don't see either one as being any more original than the other. I tried to listen for it, but both bands are just okay as far as originality goes so this one is a .....

Tie, no points awarded

Who rocks more?
Neither of these bands will be accused of being real rocking bands, but both rock to some extent. Steelheart often started out their songs strong, but many times failed to sustain a whole track. Too often it felt like the music was just going through the motions. Firehouse tended to start out okay or decent.Yet they frequently built the momentum and several times managed to keep some decent grooves going throughout the whole song.

Point to Firehouse.

So the final score is Firehouse 3 Steelheart 1 and 1 tie. Once again the winner turned out different than what I at first figured. So doing this segment has allowed me to listen more closely to albums I normally might not spend much time on. So I will have another "Lesser of two evils" out next month.

11 Comments:

Blogger bob_vinyl said...

Needless to say, I find both bands to be intolerably bad, but I have to respect your perseverence in getting through these lesser of two evils posts. They're good fun. I also think it's interesting that both your winners (or losers since it's really a backhanded compliment to win such a dubious honor) are on the Rocklahoma bill. Are you a Rocklahoma insider or do you think they're just reading your blog?

9:20 PM  
Blogger David Amulet said...

I also thought these would be awful upon re-listen, but I got them both again a few years ago and they are not as bad as I feared.

My nod has to go to Steelheart because Firehouse came off as a bit poppier. But both are fun sometimes.

-- david

3:04 AM  
Blogger Metal Mark said...

Bob-I think almost half of the bands I have lined up for this segment are on the Rocklahoma bill. Although neither of the bands I have set-up for next month's match-up are on the bill.

David-Some of these bands are hard to take and some are better than I thought they would be.

4:39 AM  
Blogger bob_vinyl said...

I think you could have included a judge the album cover bonus to this lesser of two evils, because they're both comically bad. I think I like the Firehouse cover better though just for the fire in the background. Like skulls, fire is usually a good choice.

6:31 AM  
Blogger RockDog said...

"Neither of these bands will be accused of being real rocking bands..."

LOL!

I'd have to pick Firehouse as my lesser of two evils...probably ebcause I saw them live once with Trixter and Warrant. They put on a decent show and I sang along with the two songs I knew...

8:14 AM  
Blogger Metal Mark said...

bob-Firehouse was in the judge the album cover a few months ago.

Rockdog-Firehouse might have actually been to blow those other two bands away. Both Warrant and Trixter will eventually be part of teh Lesser of two evils.

10:01 AM  
Blogger Hard Rock Hideout said...

I have seen both the original versions of Firehouse and Steelheart live, and both were great in concert.

If I had to pick one over the other, I would have to choose Steelheart.

Singer Mike Matijavec could hit notes live that I didn't think was possible.

Steelheart is supposed to have some new tunes on the way sometime in 2007 with a different lineup.

Firehouse released a new disc in 2003 called Prime Time, and it was fairly decent.

Steelheart wins, as they were the harder of the two bands.

I like both of them though.

10:37 AM  
Blogger Pixie said...

Just thought I would say HI :)

10:42 AM  
Blogger DPTH International said...

Good segment! These are great posts. I might have been inclined to lean towards Steelheart, but I enjoy the fact that you surprise yourself as well. Looking forward to the Trixter/Warrant ones. I love Warrant upto "Dog Eat Dog" ... after that I could care less.

10:48 AM  
Blogger aXe mAn said...

Two great bands, and two great albums!! I love them!
But, I would give the edge to Firehouse as well!

Good job Mark! Even though I don't agree with you on some things, it was still a good read.

12:39 PM  
Blogger BeckEye said...

Heh. Ha ha ha....well, I'll have to agree with you and pick Firehouse. Only because I know 3 of their songs and only 1 of Steelheart's.

4:34 PM  

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