"VH1 Classic Presents: Metal Mania - Stripped Vol. 3" (VH1 / Sidewinder Music; 2007)

Reviewed by Ray Van Horn Jr.

God bless Eddie Trunk and VH1… If you’re of the original demographic that this album is primarily intended for, you’ll remember that in the early-to-late eighties, VH1 was then considered taboo to modern rock fans. It was thought of as the old fart station a young rocker wouldn’t be caught dead watching. Now the times have changed and the same cluster of viewers ironically wouldn’t be caught dead watching the ugly bastard stepchild MTV has become…doubly ironic that VH1 was considered the very same thing in the eighties. Let’s face it; VH1 Classic has become more than soup du jour for Generation X; it’s a veritable lifeline to an era that defined contemporary music presentation. In particular, we die hard headbangers can be seen glued to the never-unfashionable Metal Mania, and Trunk and VH1 know we’re there, hence this third volume of the popular VH1 Classic Metal Mania Stripped series.

Collecting some pre-existing acoustic jams of hairball sonnets along with brand-spanking new recordings for this latest installment, the third go-round with these beloved voices of the past is just as entertaining as the previous tomes—and with a few surprises along the way. Naturally the obligatory “Signs” by Tesla makes an appearance, along with Poison and Ratt from their MTV Unplugged stints, but some of Metal Mania Stripped Volume 3’s knockout surprises are a superior reworking by Shaw/Blades of Damn Yankees’ “High Enough,” a swampy version of “Turn Up the Radio” by Autograph, Tom Kiefer’s low-key and melancholic take on Cinderella’s “Nobody’s Fool,” and a highly game revisit to “Don’t Close Your Eyes” by a hybrid of Kix and Funny Money, the latter being Kix vocalist Steve Whitman’s current band. Call it an appropriate revenge, but Winger’s gorgeous and layered neoclassical redux of “Headed for a Heartbreak” steals the show. You’ll recall by my interview with Kip Winger here at Rough Edge that he has a strong background in classical music, which makes “Headed for a Heartbreak” one of this collection’s must-hears.

The inclusion of Dokken’s hallmark ballad “In My Dreams” from "One Live Night" is a classy choice, and this version has just as much personality as the original version, particularly with the brisk a capella, even if Dokken cheats by sneaking in an electric solo, ahem, ahem... Fans of Slaughter and Firehouse will take comfort with “Up All Night” and “When I Look Into Your Eyes” respectively as they will with Jani Lane’s solo hiking of Warrant’s swooning money-maker “Heaven.” 

As Metal Mania Stripped Volume 3 rounds off with a profound piano and string version of Accept’s “Balls to the Wall,” coincided by a shriek-less Udo Dirkschneider, you have to lift those tired fists into the air and remember what this stuff felt back in the day. People may call it corny and outdated, but there’s a reason we’re seeing and hearing so much of eighties metal and hard rock all over again. There might not be jam-packed arenas for these artists any longer, but there’s still plenty of life in their music, creatively re-imagined in this series.

Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Copyright © 2007 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 04 Oct 2018 19:54:49 -0400.