Glancing through an old copy of Fireworks melodic rock magazine made me think about the outfits the bands are wearing more than their music(1). A number of the bands, like Wolfpakk, Ammunition and The Amorettes, I do not know because I have not heard their material, while others are familiar or even famous like Gun, Thunder, UFO, Toto and Scorpions. Some are of no interest, because I either do not like their music or the genre is off-putting (power metal). Many, or most, are very good. Fireworks has always endeared itself to me, because the journalists are positive and enthusiastic. The downside of this is that they may enthuse about albums, which I explore and sometimes find to be disappointing. Occasionally, they will make it clear they do not like a band or album, but it is quite rare (an Arapacis album in this issue).
My favourite section is the Album Reviews and, in this month’s issue, those that interested me were by Anthony Phillips, Beardfish, Dave Kilminster, Gun, Herman Rarebell and many others. The highlighted album reviews, at the front of the section, are the first S/T album by supergroup Revolution Saints, II a comeback by cult band China Sky and the much anticipated Toto XIV. Main articles were on: Scorpions in an interview with Klaus Meine on their future, which appears to be open-ended; Sweet and Lynch fronting a supergroup which bears their name; and Steve Lukather of Toto, discussing the aforementioned Toto XIV.
On the subject of rock musicians’ outfits, it is clear they are wearing them for a photo-shoot which will be used in magazines like this and for promotional purposes. Do a Google search in ‘images’ on some of these artists and the chances are you will see more of the same.
Some are quite stylish, like Eric Clapton, Axl Rose, David Coverdale, Billy Idol, Freddie Mercury, Keith Moon, Alice Cooper, Slash, Jimi Hendrix, and The Beatles. Others get it totally wrong such as The Red Hot Chili Peppers, the late great Chris Squire, Marilyn Manson, Dee Snider, Billy Ray Cyrus, MC Hammer, Will.i.am, and an endless list of eighties synthpop bands wearing jackets with rolled up sleeves. Due to their inconsistency, some of these could be in both lists; Rose and Squire to name but two.
Rock stars, according to their dress code in Fireworks, can be categorised into four broad groups:
First is the Dressed in Black category, with the worst offenders being: Soto, who all wear sunglasses, except the man after whom they are named, Jeff Scott, who is wearing a scarf with a cheesy skull pattern; UFO, whose lead singer Phil Mogg is also sporting a trilby that is too big; and power metallers Ordan Ogan in hoods, but Mediaeval hoods. Black is worn with monotonous regularity, rather than bad taste, by bands such as: Ammunition, with Age Sten Nilsen of Wig Wam; all-girl group The Amorettes; Swedish band Eclipse; supergroup Devil Train; cult melodic band China Sky; southern rock band, Blackberry Smoke; hard rock legend Jorn Lande with Trond Holter; German power metal band, Blind Guardian; and others.
Next, is the Eccentric Garb category, which by nature tends to be randomised. Duo Wolfpakk are wearing shirts with American Indian feather imagery, but lead singer, Michael Voss, has warpaint on his face. JK Impera, drummer with his own band Impera, is wearing a sensible enough grey jacket, but he has running ink-style eye makeup – running upwards. This may seem a bit crazy, but it is a case of once seen, never forgotten. It might work for him. Perhaps most eccentric of all, David Paich, keyboard player with Toto, is wearing a grey top hat, a long grey coat and a scarf. He could be on his way to a wedding, but in fairness has worn tall hats before and one of the early title ideas for XIV was ‘Great Expectations‘. Great guitarist he may be, but Steve Lukather’s hair needs combing. Brazilian power metal ‘monsters’, Angra, should be in the Dressed in Black category, but qualified for Eccentric with one of them wearing a T-shirt with a tartan skull design, which is a combination of corny and weird. Funniest of all is neo multi-instrumentalist John Mitchell, recording under the moniker Lonely Robot, strolling through Trafalgar Square dressed as an astronaut.
Sexy Kit is the third category, starting with ‘Norwegian songstress’, Issa, in a cropped vest top and hair styled by a wind machine. Polish neo singer, Anieszka Swita, is similar in a purple bustier (I think). Skarlett Riot lead vocalist, Chloe, almost qualified for the Dressed in Black or Eccentric clusters, but with ripped leggings I put her here for balance. Also Canadian vocalist, Leah, who has a fantasy style of her own, is not overtly sexy, but she is a good-looking girl and a lot more attractive than many of the men here. Talking of which, we have Revolution Saints’ guitarist Doug Aldrich who, borrowing from Coverdale, has that, ‘Hey, I’m here ladies,’ look about him. At least with the inclusion of Aldrich, I cannot be accused of sexism!
Last, but not least, is the Long Hair but Normal bracket – jackets and T-shirts. These musicians look as if they would wear their stage clothes on the way to the gig and include: Michael Sweet and George Lynch; retro band The Answer; Brighton-based band, Furyon; Swedish band, Last Autumn’s Dream; Thunder, who are all dressed in black, but look natural; young Swedish band Reach; and New Zealanders, The Datsuns. Hooray! for their unpretentiousness. I hope they all see continued success, just for being themselves.
My comments here are tongue in cheek, as there are many fine musicians discussed in my blog and their clothes do not count for much when one is listening to the music. Fireworks has many other features, interviews and reviews beyond those mentioned here. I wholeheartedly recommend the magazine for fans of melodic, heavy, hard and progressive rock.
(1) Fireworks Issue No. 68, March/April 2015