Big Hair, Make-up, Spandex! A Sleazy Playlist for Lovers of Sleaze Rock!

This isn’t a definitive list of the twenty best sleazy tracks of all time it’s twenty tracks, chosen by two of our writers, for the lovers of the sleazier, not cheesier (though some may disagree) songs. Think screaming riffs; high pitched voices; guyliner; spandex! Bands where the men wear more make-up than most hard core Rock Chicks, and are invariably a damn sight prettier too!

Rather than have a lipstick, handbags at dawn duel Jo and I have picked ten tracks each! So enjoy the PlanetMosh Playlist

Big Hair, Make-up, Spandex! A Sleazy Playlist for Lovers of Sleaze Rock!

Louise’s choices: – I’ve tried to put them in the order in which I first heard them rather than any ranking of one to ten. There are lots of great tracks out there but I could only pick ten and it’s mainly songs/bands that have stayed with me since I first heard them with a couple of newer tracks from bands who have become firm favourites. Being a lover of Glam/Punk there’s a fine line between some sleaze and punk and I’ll be compiling a list of British Punk too so watch this space: –

Faster Pussycat – Don’t Change That Song

When I was a young(er) rocker the main way of hearing new music was the Friday Night Rock Show on Radio One. As I became of clubbing age I use to frequent various indie/goth/rock clubs and I would hear music there. I  first heard Don’t Change That Song by Faster Pussycat in Le Phonographique, a subterranean club in the middle of The Merrion Centre in Leeds. I loved the song the minute I heard it and had to ask the DJ what it was. Didn’t listen to the lyrics that closely when I was out clubbing but bought their self titled debut album and listened more intently, this song contains my favourite lyric ever ‘Baby I’ve got twelve inches of fun always at my command.‘ Taime & co write some brilliant lyrics.

Jo: I adored Faster Pussycat back in the day. I still recall being so excited about getting tickets to see them when they first came to the UK in 1987. They were touring with another new LA band but I wasn’t too fussed about them, after all who could possibly prefer Axl Rose over Taime Down? Well, the rest of the world apparently but never mind! This track is not my personal favourite from the first album (that would be ‘Bathroom Wall’ or ‘Babylon’) but as a slice of sleazy rock I agree it’s up there with the best.

Zodiac Mindwarp and The Love Reaction – Planet Girl

Another band I heard in The Phono (as it was known), was Zodiac Mindwarp and The Love Reaction when I first heard Wild Child.  Zodiac Mindwarp (or creator of the band Mark Manning) is another songwriter who’s lyrics I love, and I could have gone for any of his songs, Prime Mover with it’s ‘Your lipstick flickers round my lightning rod’ makes me think Zody must have been a big Star Wars fan and like re-enacting those light sabre scenes, but I’ve picked Planet Girl because I wanted to be the Planet Girl and maybe one day I’ll dress up in a skin tight silver suit to re-enact a scene from the video! Listen on YouTube

Jo: I never really got this band. Saw them several times and it just didn’t gel with me so this one wouldn’t have made my list. I may have to revisit my old vinyl and see how things stand these days?

Britny Fox – Girlschool

I have a particular liking for high pitched squealy voices like Taime Downe (Faster Pussycat) and Vince Neil (Motley Crue) and ‘Dizzy’ Dean Davidson from Britny Fox has that squeal off to a T!  I love this song, reminiscent of my days at Wakefield Girls’ High School, erm, well, perhaps not quite but ……

Jo: Always loved the guitar sound on this song, and hair doesn’t get much bigger than this!

Roxx Gang – Scratch My Back

By the time this song came out I’d moved over to Manchester and was frequenting The Banshee and Legends every week, and also had Sky TV where I used to watch Vanessa Warwick’s Headbangers Ball every Sunday. I heard Scratch My Back in the clubs and loved it, a brilliant one to dance to, really sleazy and when I later saw the video I immediatley fell in love with frontman Kevin Steele and his plaits, bandana and top hat, to this day I’ve never seen Roxx Gang but I live in hope!

Jo: Another classic, and I too may have danced to this in Manchester on a regular basis back in the day.

Cats In Boots – Shotgun Sally

Another favourite to dance to was Shotgun Sally by Cats in Boots. It’s the only song I know by this Japanese American rock group but it’s a good one. They had some success in Japan with a mini album reaching number one in the Japanese Indie chart but had little success elsewhere and it wasn’t long before these cats hung up their cowboy boots!

Jo: I actually have this album in my vinyl collection. It’s called Kicked And Klawed and I haven’t listened to it in years although I seem to recall it being very good at the time. Lead singer Joel Ellis is still active on the music scene, currently working with his son as Ellis and Angel.

Jetboy – Evil

The first I heard this song was when I saw the video on Headbangers Ball and whilst I’m not really a big fan of the slow ballad-y songs I love this one. I loved the video and Mickey Finn’s impressive mohican, perhaps a sign of latent punk leanings! Although the video with it’s large hairy spiders is not for arachnophobes. Former members include Sami Yaffi of Hanoi Rocks who replaced oiginal bass player, Todd Crew, with Crew dying, not long after leaving Jetboy, of a drugs overdose in the hotel of Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash. Jetboy disbanded in 1992 but got back together over a decade later and are still playing today.

Jo: I always thought Jetboy were a much under-rated band who could have been a huge success if they’d just managed to get their act together a little more. Good choice of song, although I prefer ‘Make Some Noise’.

Falling Red – Out Of Control

First I heard of Falling Red was when I saw them supporting AC/DC’s original singer Dave Evans at Moho in Manchester in 2010. I loved their energetic live set and powerhouse guitarist Shane Kirk. Their debut album Shake The Faith is one of my favourite albums of all time but I played mine so much it broke! I could have picked several of the songs on this album but I’ve gone for the anthemic Out Of Control and the ‘stolen’ car in the video has my initials HLS in the number plate so it just had to be this one!

Jo: I was introduced to this band via a friend at around the same time, which as I recall was around the time Shane actually left the band! My personal favourite song of theirs is ‘Come On Down’ but this one is good too. They are currently in the studio working on a new album which should be due for release later this year. Superb live act, if you haven’t seen them yet go and check them out.

Vains of Jenna – No One’s Gonna Do It For You

Although the song was released before Falling Red’s Out Of Control I didn’t hear No One’s Gonna Do It For You until later when I saw that Falling Red were supporting them, so watched a few videos on YouTube. I loved this song and vocalist Lizzy DeVine’s vocals but alas he had already parted ways with Vains of Jenna when I saw them, thus, it was with Jesse Forte on vocals. Having never seen them with DeVine anyway, I can’t say that I didn’t like Forte but, I would love to have seen them with DeVine. Sadly it’s not to be and in any event Vains of Jenna disbanded in 2012.

Jo: I never got to see Vains of Jenna sadly and also only know of them via youtube. On the plus side Lizzy DeVine has a new band The Cruel Intentions who look promising if you like this genre of music so maybe you will get to see him live after all!

The Last Vegas  – Whatever Gets You Off

The Last Vegas are a Chicago based band I first heard when I got the opportunity to review them at a gig at The Snooty Fox in Wakefield in 2014. I didn’t really know much about them but friends had recommended them and I liked the support band so off I went. I really enjoyed their set and went on to see them supporting Skid Row later the same year. They have also supported the likes of Motley Crue, Guns ‘N Roses and AC/DC. I recently reviewed their latest album Eat Me, a foodie extravaganza, which I loved but the track which I have chosen is the title track from their 2009 album Whatever Gets You Off with it’s risque video.

Jo: I discovered The Last Vegas when they supported Skid Row too, and was totally blown away by them – I bought their entire back catalogue from the merch stall that night and also pledged for the latest album. I love far too many of their songs to be able to choose a favourite so am happy to go along with this one!

Biters – Oh Yeah (The Bitch Wants More)

Tuk Smith – Biters

We stay in the USA but head south to Atlanta home of Biters, who provide the last track on my list. Again this is a band I came to hear through reviewing. I reviewed their album Electric Blood then saw them in Nottingham and Manchester on the Electric Blood tour. Another energetic and entertaining live band, heavily influenced by Thin Lizzy. I wasn’t sure which track to go for, as I like a few, so resorted to YouTube for inspiration and as soon as I saw a live video of Oh Yeah (The Bitch Wants More) which is like a punked up Strutter by Kiss I didn’t need to look any further. A track from their 2011 album All Chewed Up on Underrated Records. It’s raw it’s energetic. I love it! Yeah you could say ‘The Bitch Wants More!’

Jo: This is the only band on your list that I am not familiar but going on that description I’m looking forward to the Spotify playlist and checking them out!

Jo’s Choices:  So now it’s over to me and I too have some semblance of chronological order to my list. Not too much though as that wouldn’t be in the spirit of true sleaze would it? My love of all things both glam and sleazy began quite early – being a child of the seventies I recall that even though much of my musical taste started with the standard teenybopper fare of The Bay City Rollers et al there was always a bit of me that enjoyed watching TOTP for those artists that didn’t really conform to the norm. Bowie in his Ziggy phase, Bolan with his glitter and capes, The Sweet with their girly makeup yet harder sound….. these were pretty boys but also with some of them it looked like if you touched them you might come away feeling just a bit, well, dirty really and I liked that. Plus of course my mum didn’t approve of them so that made it even better! So here’s my Top 10 for you to check out, more or less in the order that I recall them having an impact on my life!

The Sweet – Action

Someone once described The Sweet as being basically “builders in make-up” and that’s something you can’t really argue with. Never the prettiest of pretty boys despite the guyliner, The Sweet were a rock band who kind of got shoehorned into a bubblegum pop niche so although mostly remembered for their bouncy pop hits if you look at their album tracks and b-sides they were possibly the original glam/sleaze trailblazers. I have always thought that this song kind of highlighted their split personality. It’s a really good rock song with just enough polish to make it commercially viable at the time too.

Louise: How can anyone not like The Sweet? A great fun, band. I saw them at Rooftop Gardens in Wakefield, must have been about 86-87, well I seem to think it was them anyway! 

New York Dolls – Jet boy

Were this band the original punks? Malcolm McClaren seemed to think so, and in terms of sneering don’t-give-a-fuck attitude they were certainly right up there. They wore makeup then sweated it off, they had big hair, they liked to wear womens’ clothes, they certainly inspired the look of a lot of the LA bands who came after them. In terms of their music, like their lifestyle it could be a bit hit and miss. Sometimes beautiful, sometimes descending into a chaotic mess. This song is one of the good ones, and to me it represents the start of the glam/sleaze musical style as well as the look.

Louise: An iconic band and most people will know the song Personality Crisis, which is brilliant, but this is a great track too and well worth a listen!

Hanoi Rocks – Lightning Bar Blues

All that I wrote above could also, I suppose, be applied to Hanoi Rocks. Hailing from Finland some of them were pretty, some of them were dirty and all of them together created a sound that didn’t always work (especially live, and I suspect depending on the amounts of various substances that had been consumed) but every now and again they got it spot on and this song is one of those times. Sadly the band imploded following the untimely death of drummer Razzle in 1984 and despite some abortive attempts at reconciliation over the years they have never really managed to recapture the wildness of those early days. Singer Michael Monroe continues to keep the faith with their original look and sound though, and while he is still around Hanoi’s legacy will live on.

Louise: Another iconic band, and I have to admit I don’t recall this song, the most well known Hanoi Rocks’ song, no doubt, being Up Around The Bend, which isn’t actually their song it was originally by Creedance Clearwater.

Girl – My Number

Ah Girl. The band that paved the way to stardom for both Phil Collen (Def Leppard) and Phil Lewis (LA Guns). Phil L was already a bit of a glam icon as he was known in the press for being Britt Ekland’s toyboy and they exploded onto the scene in 1979/80 with swaggering arrogance and a self-titled debut album that just oozed catchy choruses, risque lyrics, big riffs and look-at-me attitude. Really hard to choose a favourite song from them as I loved them all, but as Phil Lewis still plays this one in his live set and the rumours at the time were that it was about his relationship with Britt I guess it must be one of the best! After a glorious couple of years supporting anyone and everyone they released a disappointing second album and then stardom beckoned for the two Phils and Girl were no more. Still a huge influence on many musicians working today though.

Louise: I’m lucky enough to have seen Girl! Perhaps showing my age here but the second gig I ever went to was UFO at Sheffield City Hall in 1982, with Girl supporting. Even from my birds eye view up in the Gods I remember Phil Lewis being very good looking! Still is to this day, or was when I last saw them about fifteen years ago. Birdwell Venue later this month, here I come!

Dogs D’Amour – I Don’t Want You To Go

Let me tell you a story. It’s now 1988 and LA Glam has become a Thing in the States. It had started to impact over here in the UK too so we started looking for our own big-haired heroes but it was hard for me as I was a young single mum with no social life to speak of. I did however have a mate who worked in the local record shop. Have a listen to this he said when I was in there one day, they are playing in our local pub this Saturday. It was an import EP they’d just got in from Japan, by a band I’d never heard of but who looked kind of glam. Well, glam and a bit grubby really – just like I said I liked, remember? So I listened, and I liked, and I arranged a babysitter for Saturday. One by one the friends I was due to go out with found they couldn’t make it after all but I was looking forward to a rare and coveted night out so I went anyway. I sort of hovered at the back for a bit, cos I was by myself and I didn’t really know any of the songs. But the tunes were grabbing me, and I was moving closer to the stage, and people were dancing, and I wanted to dance too cos the tunes were still grabbing me, so I moved even closer. Then they started playing this one song, and the singer leapt into the air, swung on the lighting rig for a bit then dropped down onto the dancefloor. Suddenly we were all dancing with him, and that night was one of the best gigs I have ever been to (and trust me I’ve been to a LOT of gigs over the years!) That one song was this one, and it will forever hold a special place and a special memory in my heart.

Louise: I have to confess I didn’t like Dogs D’Amour when they first hit the scene, I thought Tyla with his curly blonde hair was dog rough, so didn’t really listen to much by them (yeah I’ve always been shallow!). It wasn’t until around ten years ago when I went to a gig at The Star and Garter in Manchester and a dude clad from head to foot in skin tight black leather, with shoulder length, black hair suddenly appeared and I’m like ‘Are you telling me that’s Tyla?’ ‘He’s improved with age!’ Suddenly I decided I quite liked them after all. My favourite tracks are probably Gypsy Blood and Last Bandit, although I do like their cover of Quick Joey Small too, which I discovered wasn’t originally by Slaughter and the Dogs but by Kasenatz-Katz Singing Orchestral Circus

Vain – Beat The Bullet

So on to some of that LA Hair Metal. Suddenly my music papers and magazines were full of pretty boys with big hair making music with big big echoy drum sounds. I liked that, I liked it a lot, but there was always a part of me that preferred a man in ripped jeans or black leather to a frilly shirt or spandex. I think my brother (who was in a glam band himself by now!) introduced me to Vain, and this song just jumped out at me. It had all the glam hallmarks of squealing guitars and big choruses, but the sound was a little more stripped down and the almost-but-not-quite-off-key vocals made my spine shiver. A true classic.

Louise: Another song I used to dance to in the clubs and I saw Vain supporting Skid Row at Manchester Apollo, around 1991, I’ve probably still got my ticket somewhere and I have their album No Respect on vinyl too. Will dig it out and have a listen, if my stereo still works!

Backyard Babies – Minus Celsius

By the early 90s grunge had hit the world in a big way, and the big hair backlash had begun. Suddenly there were checked shirts everywhere, and nobody wanted the pretty boys anymore. Well most of the world, it turns out that the scene remained as strong as ever in the Scandinavian countries and both Sweden and Finland continued to churn out excellent sleazy bands who could match a dirty riff to a winking black-ringed eye with style and aplomb. One of the first of these bands I became aware of was the Backyard Babies, brought to my attention via their collaborations with both Michael Monroe and Ginger Wildheart. They have split up and reformed several times over the years but their style of good-time party music has never really changed and this song from their first reformation in 2003 remains a firm favourite.

Louise: Not really a band I know much by, I like what I’ve seen on Scuzz and Kerrang. I couldn’t make the gig last year but from what I have heard and seen of them on video I would love to see them live.

The Glitterati – Back In Power

This was a short-lived band from Leeds who I first encountered in the mid-2000s when they supported the Wildhearts. Their first album was produced by non other than Mike Clink, a very famous name in rock circles, and contained a couple of tracks that even made it into the singles charts (although this wasn’t one of them!) They emerged at the time I was getting very bored with “arena rock” and heavily back into the independent pub/club music scene as a fan and to me summed up the depth of talent that was out there waiting to be discovered in terms of both writing and performing.

Louise: I have no recollection of these at all. Even though I may well have seen them supporting The Wildhearts, who knows? I can’t remember who supported when I saw them, can’t even remember exactly when but it was in the mid-2000s! I shall look forward to hearing this on our spotify playlist myself!

Crashdiet – Generation Wild

As I mentioned before, now that we are well into the noughties it seems that Scandinavia has become a hotbed for all the best in modern glam and sleaze. The best hair is in Sweden. Of course this isn’t universally true but Sweden’s Crashdiet are at the forefront of the genre and have all the cliches. They have drug overdoses and suicides, splits and reformations, the biggest of big hair, the tightest of ripped trousers, the most artistic of painted faces. They also have talent, and this title track from their 2010 album shows just how much even if MTV banned the video for obscene images! Listen on YouTube

Louise: Are they still going since Simon Cruz departed? I don’t know but they played Hard Rock Hell the first time I went, which was the last year it was held  in Prestatyn and I was suitably impressed. I love their song ‘Breakin’ the Chainz’.

Reckless Love – Beautiful Bomb

Olli Herman – Reckless Love

And so to my final choice, from Finland’s gorgeously pretty Reckless Love. This song has all that is great about glam and sleaze. The chorus is catchy, the guitars are immense, the drums are precise and the singing varies from growling to screaming then right back again. Did I also mention that they are gorgeously pretty? This is a band who are currently playing stadium rock in small venues, and if there is any justice they will one day be playing it in stadiums. They have the look, the attitude and the songs. One day they will conquer the world – be afraid, be very afraid!

Louise: Don’t get me started on Reckless Love, this would be the first track I heard by them when Scuzz or Kerrang played the video, and my ears, or probably my eyes suddenly started paying attention! I thought they looked good, not my favourite song by them, that would be ‘So Happy I Could Die’ and I’m always happy when I go to see them, but the less said about my mid-life crisis crush on their drummer Hessu Maxx the better!

End Note: So there you have it. Twenty, sleazy, downright dirty tracks to give you a taster of the genre! Not a definitive list, our own personal choices, so if there’s anything you think we should listen to, based on the list, then please a add comment! Our ears are always open to a bit of new Glam and our eyes too! I note that neither Jo nor I, picked any female fronted sleaze for this list, and that’s not to say there aren’t some great bands/tracks out there, they just didn’t make it into this list. If you like the above and like a female fronted band try Smashed Gladys, Princess Pang or Lita Ford for starters.

About Louise Swift

I first went to a gig in 1981, Gillan at Leeds University. I've been a regular gig goer ever since. I haven't kept count of how many gigs I've been to over the intervening years, but it's a lot! My favourite bands are AC/DC then, in no particular order, Anti-Nowhere League, Slaughter and the Dogs, Towers of London and Dirt Box Disco. I tend to like Glam/Punk and rude offensive lyrics, not sure what that says about me but as Animal would say 'So What!' The question was recently put to me - did I write for any online publications? My reply - No, but I'd like to! Planetmosh was suggested and I found myself offering to review Aces High Festival. Easy peasy I thought! Well not quite, if a jobs worth doing it's worth doing well! I had sixteen bands to research. I found I actually enjoyed that and it kept me too busy to be making lunatic comments on Facebook! ;) Then I felt a bit inadequately qualified. I mean, who am I to comment on others, when my musical expertise extends to being able to play a mean Greensleeves on the recorder and a passable Annie's song on the flute! Haven't picked up either instrument for years! What I do have, however, is over 30 years of experience as a gig goer, so I can comment on what I like and what I don't! It's only my opinion and, if I don't like a band it doesn't mean they are bad, just not to my own liking. I admire anyone who has the guts to get up on that stage and have a go!