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Heavy Hitters: Poison, Cinderella, Mötley Crüe & Def Leppard

Paul Gargano spins some vinyl to prepare for the summer concert season

We are days away from June, which means that the summer concert season is officially upon us - and what better way to celebrate than with four of the bands that will be bringing the rock across America well into fall. If you’re like me and can’t wait to see the Stadium Tour featuring Def Leppard, Mötley Crüe, Poison and Joan Jett, and the Summer Slam featuring Cinderella, L.A. Guns and Faster Pussycat, check out the vinyl below and prime your pumps for one of the hottest summers we’ve seen in years!

POISON Look What the Cat Dragged In

Poison-Cat

There aren’t many albums that make me feel as good as Look What the Cat Dragged In - and not just because I spent most of my sophomore year of high school with a crush on the chick in the upper left hand corner of the cover. What can I say? I went to an all-guys high school and it was slim pickings until I got my driver’s license and could explore the fertile dating grounds about 15 miles north on the Merritt Parkway. But I digress… This album epitomizes everything amazing about the ‘80s, slapping us in the face with a silk scarf and tickling its way into our subconscious like a first love. It’s so much fun we don’t mind the lack of danger, Bret Michaels giving us permission to cry tough to make our dreams happen at the start of the album, then begging our parents for permission to rock on the album’s closer little more than a half-hour later. In between we plea for action and satisfaction, get frisky, and promise not to forget whoever the cat drags in. Thirty-five years after its initial release, this anniversary edition 180 gram vinyl still hits all the right spots. Talk dirty to me? Don’t mind if you do…

CINDERELLA Long Cold Winter

Cinderella-LongCold

With its plain white cover embossed with a simple purple logo and script, Long Cold Winter was the antithesis of the big hair, tight spandex and playful poses that bedecked Cinderella’s Night Songs debut. Some contend that this sophomore release is where the band from the Philadelphia suburbs stretched their legs and let the blues truly seep through their sound, but I think that happened more on Heartbreak Station. Instead, Long Cold Winter just embraced everything we already loved about Cinderella and took it to another level. “Gypsy Road” was an instant anthem, “Don’t Know What You Got (Till It’s Gone)” became one of the most quoted songs of the era, and the title track bled with an unprecedented urgency unheard of from bands with big hair. Almost a quarter-century later, my personal favorite remains “Coming Home” – it doesn’t hold any special meaning to me, but the mid-tempo heart-tugger oozes with a passion and vulnerability that never gets old. And, mark my words, if you line up every track ten from across as many albums as you can find, “Take Me Back” will rank right near the top. Long Cold Winter makes every long hot summer better.

Crüe Believers: A Tribute to Mötley Crüe

CrueBelievers

This is the rare album that I didn’t even know existed until I stumbled upon it in the Metal Edge store. Cleopatra Records impresario Brian Perera has made an industry out of partnering like-minded artists and recording cover songs and albums, but none are more timely than this treasure chest of ‘80s and ‘80s-inspired rockers paying tribute to Mötley Crüe, the co-headliners of this summer’s Stadium Tour. Great White frontman Jack Russell does Vince Neil proud on “Kickstart My Heart,” L.A. Guns guitarist Tracii Guns and Tuff’s Stevie Rachelle blister on “Red Hot,” London “Shout At The Devil” with fire and brimstone, and Marq Torien and his Bulletboys get smooth up into “Dr. Feelgood.” The curio on the collection is Leif Garret taking us “Home Sweet Home,” while the album closes strong with Jetboy paying homage to “Saints of Los Angeles,” and Hollywood locals Saints & Sinners and Peppermint Creeps delivering the goods on “Public Enemy #1” and “Bastard.” Are they better than the originals? Hell no. But they are a hell of a lot of fun, and a worthy addition to any Crüe fan’s collection.

DEF LEPPARD Retro Active

DL-RetroActive

I remember when Retro Active came out in 1993 - I had to have it because it contained an alternate version of “Two Steps Behind,” Def Leppard's colossal ballad originally released as a b-side to their “Make Love Like A Man” single, then later released on the Last Action Hero soundtrack. How colossal was the song? So colossal that in 1993 it was awarded both Song of the Year and Best Song from a Movie Soundtrack in the Metal Edge Readers’ Choice Awards. Can I use the word colossal again? Don’t tempt me… I still think “Two Steps Behind” is the band’s best ballad and one of their best songs ever, but this collection doesn’t stop there. It kicks off with Hysteria outtakes “Desert Song” and “Fractured Love,” and unearths such hidden gems as “Miss You in a Heartbeat,” featuring Joe Elliott on vocals and piano, the haunting “From the Inside,” and “Pour Some Sugar On Me” b-side “Ring of Fire.” It took nearly 30 years to see this album get the vinyl treatment it deserved, but our patience paid off on May 5, when this two-vinyl set finally saw the light of day. And how cool is that cover!