by Justin Gaines
– Senior Columnist/News Editor —
Originally released in 1988, What Do You Know About Rock ‘n Roll? was the second album from Minneapolis-based glam metal band Slave Raider. The term “cult classic” gets tossed around pretty freely, but in Slave Raider’s case it is completely appropriate. Here’s a band that had a wild look, an even wilder sound, and that went beyond the normal party rock clichés, yet outside of the Twin Cities area, they just didn’t make a huge impact.
Slave Raider’s look and attitude owed a lot to bands like Twisted Sister, W.A.S.P. and Lizzy Borden, and their sound took a lot of those same cues as well. They took the basic Melodic Hard Rock formula and gave it a Metal edge and a flamboyant sense of style. The catchy hooks and Chainsaw Caine’s raspy vocals are what stand out the most initially, but the metallic rhythms are what get heads banging.
With What Do You Know About Rock ‘n Roll?, Slave Raider got a bit more ambitious than on their first outing (Take the World By Storm). The band brought in famed producer Chris Tsangaredes, who helped them add a more melodic polish to their sound. You hear that especially in the opening tracks “Is There Rock ‘n Roll In Heaven?” and “Youngblood,” the latter of which got some decent radio play in the Minneapolis area. They also made the second half of the album a mini rock opera about a dystopian future where rock music is a crime. That could have been embarrassingly bad, but it actually works pretty well here. It’s not overblown and melodramatic; it just has some cool themes that hold the songs together and culminate in one of the best versions of Thin Lizzy’s “Jailbreak” you’ll ever hear.
Unfortunately, Slave Raider never got the label support they needed, and didn’t make a huge impact on the national scene. They survived a major lineup change long enough to release a follow-up (1990’s Bigger, Badder & Bolder), but folded soon afterward. They may not have (ahem) taken the world by storm, but Slave Raider was one of the era’s most interesting and entertaining Hard Rock/Glam Metal acts. If you like your ‘80s rock hard, catchy and over the top, this is a band you really need to discover, especially now that their early albums are once again in print.
Edition Notes: The Slave Raider catalog has been out of print for ages, and the original pressings have been selling quite high on the secondary market. Thanks to the reissue specialists at Divebomb Records though, fans can get their hands on a superior version of What Do You Know About Rock n’ Roll? without paying a collector’s price. Divebomb’s deluxe reissue features the original album with brilliant new digital remastering, and a booklet that’s loaded with a band bio, lyrics, and vintage photos, interviews and press material. There are no bonus tracks, but just having this album back in print and sounding this great more than makes up for that. It’s limited to 1000 copies, and isn’t available digitally, so don’t wait too long to pick one up.
Genre: Hard Rock, Glam Metal
Chainsaw Caine (v)
Letitia Rae (b) (v)
Nicci Wikkid (g) (v)
Lance Sabin (g) (v)
The Rock (d)
1. Is There Rock ‘n Roll In Heaven?
3. Bye Bye Baby
4. Keep On Pushin’
5. Sin City Social
6. Roller Coaster
7. The High Priest of Good Times
8. The Magistrate
9. What Do You Know About Rock ‘n Roll?
11. Iron Bar Hotel
12. Wreckin Machine
Label: Divebomb Records
Hardrock Haven Rating: 8.75/10