WARRANT – The Best of Warrant (1996 Sony)
Whooboy. Look, I’m sure Warrant are a nice bunch of guys, and poor Jani sure suffered his demons. I’ve always considered Warrant a bit of a jokey band, and that was certainly true for the first two albums. Even when I did love ’em (that would be August and September of 1989), I always sensed that they weren’t taking anything very seriously. I had their live video, Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinking Rich – Live. Lemme tell ya, they were just too jokey and inconsistent live. I outgrew Warrant pretty fast. Which in a way was too bad, because the next album after our “breakup” was the critically acclaimed third record Dog Eat Dog.
All this being said, their first Best Of (1996) was actually a reasonably solid collection of songs, if a bit long at 57 minutes. You get the three big hits from album #1, including “Down Boys”, “Sometimes She Cries”, and “Heaven”. Decent also-rans from that album include “32 Pennies” and “Big Talk”. Nothing but pure stink is “D.R.F.S.R.”, a song I never understood the popularity of among Warrant fans. I guess the joke is still funny to some?
Album #2, Cherry Pie, was a mixed bag like its predecessor. The title track of course was the biggest steaming pile of crap released by a rock band in the year 1990. Having said that, there is video evidence of a young LeBrain rocking out to it, but I didn’t really know what Jani was singing about! We all have our musical skeletons in our closets, I believe. Mine is that there is a VHS tape in my house right now with footage of me, age 18, lip synching to “Cherry Pie”. I cannot lie about that.
Cherry Pie didn’t suck all the way through, however. It was a step up in sound, and boasted some cool tunes. “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” is the one Warrant song that really still stands up today as a great single. “Mr. Rainmaker” is also a pretty memorable rocker, with chorus built to please. I like that they included two single B-sides on this set. The pop rock track “Thin Disguise” was always better than most of the album tracks. Perhaps it was too middle of the road? Not quite ballad, not quite rocker, but pretty classy nonetheless. And please note, “classy” is not a word often used to describe a Warrant song. The other B-side was the acoustic version of “I Saw Red”, which was actually released as its own music video.
Things seemed to get most interesting with Warrant on their third album. By 1992, Warrant were absolutely buried by the new wave of grunge rock bands that swept in between their albums. They were also playing catch-up with the biggest metal albums of the period, Metallica and Slave to the Grind (Skid Row). These high-charting smash hits were much heavier than Warrant’s general output. They had to heavy up; they really had no choice. They started wearing Doc Marten boots and growing facial stubble. It all seemed so very contrived, and according to Jani Lane, it was. Even though he was the soul songwriter, he later claimed to strongly dislike the new heavier direction Warrant took. He quit Warrant briefly after this album to explore mellower Mellencamp-esque songs and ballads. It was all very shocking and confusing, considering that Warrant’s heavy and choppy single “Machine Gun” was so fucking awesome. Not that it mattered. Nobody but die-hards were listening to Warrant in 1992. I only ever saw the video for “Machine Gun” on TV once. Once! Compare that to the mega-exposure that “Heaven” and “I Saw Red” once had.
What Sony should have done with this CD is end it there. But no, they tacked on one more useless song at the end, the horrendously putrid cover of “We Will Rock You”. This was done for a really early Cuba Gooding Jr. movie called Gladiator. Warrant actually had two songs on the soundtrack, but this one was released as a single. In my opinion, if you choose to cover “We Will Rock You”, then you are doomed. Warrant were doomed before they even set foot in a recording studio.
Overall, not a bad little Best Of. You get the requisite non-album tracks, and they are generally good (“We Will Rock You” being the big exception). All the big songs are included. You have to wade through a little bit of poo, but otherwise The Best of Warrant is pretty solid.