originally posted on Saturday, 3 May 2014
Steel Panther have gained quite a bit of notoriety in the past five or so years. I think it’s great; I still remember finding out about them through YouTube videos before they released their first album Feel the Steel. My favourite video is of them with Bon Jovi keyboardist David Bryan playing Runaway. But their real international notoriety has come from their shtick of being a modern 80s hair metal band musically with the most vulgar lyrics you could possibly think of.
It worked for their debut, that album had some great music and at the time the lyrics that singer Michael Starr sang were just completely unheard of, so the shock and comedy of it all is what gave them the attention they need. Their second album Balls Out I felt really lacked in the music department and really just concentrated on the lyrics. The band was looking for a laugh more than they were trying to release good songs and while others didn’t seem to mind, this music critic did and though the album was still pretty good, it was no Feel The Steel.
I could speak more of those albums, maybe I should to clarify some things, but this article is for Steel Panther’s recently released third album All You Can Eat. Once again Steel Panther bring topics that are either real in everyday life or just made up for a laugh, regardless we find them with a whole new batch of wacky, zany and just plain grotesquely funny lyrics; this time with some quality in their music.
Take the opening track Pussywhipped. We all know at least someone who is pussywhipped, and for those who don’t, well they likely are the ones in their respective groups who are pussywhipped, and Steel Panther gives us an anthem for our frustration toward those individuals. That’s the wacky and zany part of the song, but the quality lies in the music; the classical guitar intro by lead guitarist Satchel, the guitar riffs and the melodies. Instantly I was able to tell the band put more focus on their music this time around.
The second track, Party Like Tomorrow Is The End of the World was the first song released from the album a few months ago. I’m not totally impressed by the music of the song, it really sounds generic, but the end of the song, before the last chorus, that part is pretty awesome. I can’t help but notice that the lyrics are actually quite held back. Their Balls Out album was filled with every dirty word in the book, but in this song I don’t even think Michael Starr says “fuck” once. He says “friggin” and “effing” but not the actual swear word. I don’t know, I just found that interesting and felt like sharing it.
Gloryhole (which has a music video so disgusting that I regret ever having watched it) is a song where the lyrics are absolutely no holds barred, but they aren’t much of anything special. The music for this track however is pretty awesome. The main melody of the verses is derived from that Middle Eastern sounding snake charmer song, and the lyrics are almost word for word just like those dirty rhymes kids would sing to the tune of said snake charmer song to each other to be funny (“There’s a place in France where the naked ladies like to dance.”) As great as I find the music of the track, it is once again the bridge that I feel truly makes the song, and the added (what I best assume is an) organ playing at the end of the guitar solo. I just find these simple little things make the song and help take our attention away from the lyrics, which aren’t the bands best.
The albums ballad quota, Bukkake Tears, is one of the worst lyrically (it certainly is no Community Property) but musically it stands above the rest. It is a bit dark, but then again really so are the lyrics. While it’s the only ballad, there are songs like the purposely self absorbed The Burden of Being Wonderful is very soft hearted, heavily keyboard driven and it some of the music actually sounds like some emotion was put in to it. The same could be said about You’re Beautiful When You Don’t Talk. Just like Pussywhipped, this song actually has a surprisingly relatable topic, I mean how many girls do you know that are just dumb and it takes away from their appeal? Okay hopefully you don’t know too many of them, but I’m sure you know one. If you think about it, this is one of the most civil songs they’ve ever made because it’s singing about what’s on the inside than on the outside (I actually just realized that right now.)
All You Can Eat’s lack of guest musicians surprises me. Both Feel The Steel and Balls Out had a smorgasbord of guest musicians on each album, but for All You Can Eat, Gangbang at the Old Folks Home features the only guest musician appearance; former Dio, and current Def Leppard guitarist Vivian Campbell (who if you ask me is a hell of a guest musician) plays the songs guitar solo. Here is a track where the lyrics may damn well be better than the song. It seems to be one that a lot of listeners of the album that I know of seem to remember.
Then there are a few stinkers on the album, specifically Fucking My Heart in the Ass, B.V.S. (big vagina syndrome) and If I Was The King, all of which remind me of Balls Out in the sense that a tremendous more amount of thought was put in to making the songs funny than there was trying to make them sound good. I’m sure after a few listens these songs may sound better than my early opinions. I’m finding the first of the three songs growing on me ever so slightly.
For the first time, Steel Panther don’t end their album with a ballad/soft song; instead they save one of the best for last. She’s on the Rag kind of takes its lyrics too far at times, but it’s a song that is sure to stick in the minds of its listeners. If not for its lyrics than for it’s well placed keyboards. It also has my favourite guitar solo of the album, but that’s beside the point. Really this song ends the album the way I love albums to end, with the song to end all songs and make its listeners want more.
Feel the Steel had the music, Balls Out had the lyrics, All You Can Eat has both. Music with some pretty diverse influence (but not quite as diverse as Feel the Steel) and lyrics that borderline too far, there is no way this album can possible disappoint existing Steel Panther fans, all the while serving its rightful purpose in attracting more fans into the crazy world that is Steel Panther.
“Ten Strikes You’re Out” - This is really the only song which had lyrics that actually made me chuckle. This song takes a break from the 80’s hair metal sound and borrows some ZZ Top Texas roadhouse blues influence (complete with Michael Starr channelling his inner Billy F. Gibbons with some “haw haw’s” at the beginning of the song.) What helps my choice in picking this as the highlight is that I know at least three other people who point this song out as being if not one of, than the best song on the album.
8 (Out of 10)
|“Party Like Tomorrow is the End of the World”||4:01|
|“Gangbang at the Old Folks Home”||3:47|
|“Ten Strikes You’re Out”||3:24|
|“The Burden of Being Wonderful”||3:29|
|“Fucking My Heart in the Ass”||4:14|
|“You’re Beautiful When You Don’t Talk”||3:49|
|“If I Was the King”||3:42|
|“She’s on the Rag”||3:50|