Post-Hair Pre-Grunge Metal

One of the reasons the eternal canard about Nirvana killing off hair metal has never held much weight is the fact that, by the time said Seattlites came along in the late '80s, the major labels had already been throwing loud-rock darts much more idiosyncratic than, say, Mötley Crue, against the industry wall for at least a couple years. Many of metal's biggest new bands of 1989 and '90 – Living Colour, Jane's Addiction, Faith No More, King's X, even funky-artsy Extreme -- were not particularly glam at all.

Those bands anchor this playlist, but the mix also aims to remember some less commercially successful and frequently fleeting biz hopefuls and hypes who poked their heads out between 1989 and early 1991, several of them briefly signed to majors: Warrior Soul, Mind Funk, Sea Hags, Prong, Lock Up (featuring a pre-Rage Against the Machine Tom Morello), the tragic Seattle fivesome Mother Love Bone (featuring two future members of Pearl Jam). Technically, of course, Seattle's scene had been up and running since the mid-'80s, whether branded "grunge" yet or not. And technically, '80s-style pop metal would score occasional hits deep into the '90s -- though as cuts by Saigon Kick, Enuff Z'Nuff and Love/Hate here attest, it was already trying to shape itself in more creative ways. There was a minor funk-metal craze at the time, too, and a bit of a boogie revival. So basically, these 20 songs offer a peek through an overlooked window of time, perhaps proving that rock history is more complicated than you think.

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