Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Sleaze Rocks, Part I

Sleaze is Right

Growing up in the 80s, one’s first exposure to the censorship crowd came via some Senator wives in the form of the PMRC, the Parental Music Resource Center.  Tipper Gore gave some description of her daughter hanging a picture of a rocker’s crotch on the wall (assumed to be Blackie Lawless and WASP) which, inspired her to action.

While granted, WASP was filthy; the PMRC chose to single out other popular acts of the time, like Twisted Sister with their breakthrough album, Stay Hungry, for alleged (and imaginary) subversion.  This was likely the last time the Evangelicals (to be covered in Part 2) were aligned with mainstream Democrats (though worth nothing, Fred Phelps worked for Al Gore in 1988.)

This very public attack on music the kids liked, music, like Stay Hungry, which I played on my cassette walkman, tapped a node of Againstism, against those old Puritans—and who gave Karenna money to buy a WASP poster anyway, Tips? 

Dee Snider’s testimony before Congress was one of the most exciting things of the time and hard to even consider a comparison.  Mr. Snider came into Congress, in full Metal regalia, defended himself as a Christian, as a man, as a family man, and tweaked Tipper’s twisted mind.  (It’s worth noting that Snider is still married to the same and only woman —ask Tipper about that.)

Axl Rose, after making it big--setting aside the banning of the original Appetite for Destruction cover-- neatly advanced sleaze into both the music, presentation and the politics into his act, when one considers the brilliant Midwest populist antiwar epic, Civil War, was unveiled at Farm Aid 1990, with the second and final song of the set, being the punk cover, “Down on the Farm.”  Trust me, the crowd was hoping for Welcome to the Jungle, Paradise City or Sweet Child O Mine--what they got was history.  It’s a minor theory, shared in a small circle, but Axl brought sleaze to Country.

Of course, sleaze in the rock format played itself out, as American Realism and Naturalism demanded something ever more concrete, like Trent Reznor recording Further Down the Spiral in the home of the Manson Murders, to be rivaled by Axl sneaking a cover of a Manson song onto the end of the last GNR album, Spaghetti Incident.  Pretty much the end of the road for sleaze in Metal—though it didn't hesitate to go further in various banned album covers of popular acts or in Marilyn Manson's act.

But sleaze is currently alive and hanging around in the Alt Country format of Nashville Pussy, Hank Williams III and so forth.

What is quite notable is that sleaze has remained nominal Rightwing populist, against the Power, and Tipper Gore deserves rightful credit.
Blackie Lawless and his WASP act were done in by the 1988 rockumentary :Decline and Fall of Western Civilization Part II, The Metal Years.  The scene shows WASP guitarist, Chris Holmes, hamming it up for the camera, in an act of alcoholic decadence, albeit in a sad way, with his mother in the background.  In 2010, Blackie announced that he was a Born Again Christian and would no longer play the very song Tipper complained against.

In 2008, Blackie had announced he was supporting McCain to stop Obama, as Blackie did indeed cling to his guns and Bible.
Part 2, "Satanic Rock" and the Evangelicals to come

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