Thursday, April 30, 2009


Between about 1989 and 1991 major labels seemed to be signing every big haired band in sight. So the market was flooded with bands who would soon be gone in a blink of an eye. Today's contest focuses around two such acts. Hericane Alice started in Minnesota, but eventually migrated to LA of course. They were originally called Hurricane Alice and did an album under that name. They later changed names when threatened with a lawsuit by the much more popular band Hurricane. They did land a major label deal which resulted in this one album in 1990 although by this point the line-up was much different than the one that did the previous album. Tuff spent years on the LA scene and once included Jim Gillette (Nitro) in their line-up. He was later replaced by Stevie Rachelle. They also appeared in interviews in Decline of western civilization 2 several years before they were signed. I think both of these bands fall into the category of "too little, too late". Both had their albums come out in the 90's after piles of other bands had already saturated the scene. Plus both bands came on doing a sound that had already been done many times over. Whenever I think of Tuff I am reminded of the story of how their first video had been shooting up the MTV charts for a couple of weeks and then Nirvana's "Nevermind" was released. Tuff were wiped off the face of the scene just like that. Enough of the history lessons, let's see what's really behind the hair and the make-up of these bands.


Hericane Alice-Tear the house down



Tuff-What comes around goes around


Hericane Alice has Bruce Naumann going up against Stevie Rachelle of Tuff. Bruce Naumann sounds like a guy who has no idea of what direction to take. He can sort of carry a tune, but he has or doesn't develop his own identity. He seems anxious to copy other styles, but he doesn't have the range to pull it off. It's like a teenager thinking they can sound like their idol and they get a few lines into an imitation and then start reverting back to their own voice. Stevie Rachelle also sounds like other singers as at best he sounds a little like Alice Cooper and at worst it's kind of like Zodiac Mindwarp. Still Rachelle is consistent and for today that's good enough.

Point to Tuff


Danny Gill is up for Hericane Alice and he goes against Jorge DeSaint of Tuff. Okay, both guys probably took some lessons or practiced some because they are not bad. Of course "not bad" doesn't exactly mean highly creative either. Both guys figured out enough to keep the songs from dying although they do get shaky here are there as they sound like they are doing just enough to get by. Of course that could be all they are capable of. All the guitar parts are bits that were old hat well before these guys went into the studio and they added little this style. The only thing that stood out was that Danny Gill's tone has a grain or two of grit to it on occasion.

Point to Herican Alice

Rhythm section

Hericane Alice's rhythm section is bassist Ian Mayo and drummer Jackie Ramos and they are clashing with bassist Todd Chase and drummer Michael Lean of Tuff. I guess it's an unwritten law that hard rock/hair metal bass players should not be heard in the final mix. At least that seems to what happens in the end. These bands are no exception as I don't hear a lot of bass so it boils down to the drummers. Both of these skin thumpers had their text books for "very basic and dull hard rock drumming 101" opened for them to go by. I wouldn't say that either guy bothered to turn many pages either. Michael Lean benefits a little from some good production. It gives his sound some needed depth. However a couple of listens had me thinking that Jackie Ramos had a better sense of rhythm and that's enough for me. This was the closest contest of the five for today, but ...

Point to Hericane Alice


It's one of those match-ups where originality never crossed the minds of these two bands. Hericane Alice call on everyone from AC/DC to the Bullet Boys. Tuff some times get compared to Poison and there is a slight influence, but there are also some Warrant comparisons too. I just can't believe that the labels that signed these bands actually listened to these guys before getting their signatures. If they had then they would have realized that this stuff had been done many times over by better bands. Hericane Alice might also lose points here for having songs called "Bad to love", "Wild, young and crazy" and "Badboy breakout". Those are horribly cliche even by 1990 standards. The production on Hericane Alice is okay, but kind of fuzzy on some of the early tracks. Howard Benson handled the production for Tuff and deserves a lot of credit. The production is so strong that it almost covered up for this band's many other shortcomings.

Point to Tuff

Who rocks more?

The production really helped Tuff, it almost made them sound like they knew what they were doing. However repeated plays made me realize it was good production covering up bland music. Otherwise Tuff just churn out lifeless hard rock complete with some very bad lyrics. The music is loud at times, but they never get anywhere even near a simmering level. They just stay back, go through the motions and hope you will buy into what they are doing. Hericane Alice also struggle to be much of a rock band, but the guitars help. I also keep coming back to their title track. It's nothing great, but it's a true moment of something resembling a rock song and that's more than Tuff managed to create. So...

Point to Hericane Alice

Actually a pretty tight contest, but Hericane Alice take it 3-2. Both bands were better than some others that have been on here, but both were good examples of the kind of unspectacular acts that major labels were trying to push on audiences at the tail end of hard rock's big run. Hericane Alice should have had better production for being on a major label and Tuff should have had more of their own ideas. Tuff came back a few more times over the years and Stevie Rachelle has had more success when he started Metal Sludge. Hericane Alice broke up, but are back again and are none too surprisingly slated for Rocklahoma this summer.

**Be back in a few weeks with another one of these.

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Blogger Ray Van Horn, Jr. said...

Poofed Blonde Lead Vocalist Savoir Faire Point goes to?

9:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don´t agree with you about Hericane Alice vocalist. You say he has no range. I´m sure you didn´t hear Dream Girl or Too Late, that is what I call "range".

Best regards

7:08 AM  
Blogger Metal Mark said...

Anonymous-You are welcome to your opinion. However Hericane Alice were very bland and the vocalist fails to impress. Thanks for stopping by.

5:13 AM  

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