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STYLE: Glam/Hard Rock

PhotobucketDuring the height of the glam era on the Sunset Strip, musicians were laying more pipe than the street maintenance crews on Hollywood Blvd. For the scene as a whole, there were three unsigned bands that were leading the way… For these budding rock stars, landing the dancers with the steady cash flow was just as important as landing the record deal. One was a hot body and the other was a sought after commodity. .. These bands frequently sold-out live venues like the legendary Gazzarri’s, Roxy, Whiskey and the Troubadour with little or no effort at all. All had faithful followings that would impress any major label rep with the title of A&R. .. Having their faces grace the cover of the weekly published Rock City News, the one stop music guide of the Hollywood scene was as common as the neon T-backs and tan lined tits of the time. One such covered featured the three front men with the appropriate caption, Three Rockers From Hell-y wood!.. Two of these bands became household names at the height of Glam Rock era, Poison and Warrant. The third was always on the verge of landing the big time record contract but for odd reasons, the signatures on the dotted line never materialized… Guitarist Chris Sheridan said Sweet Savage was offered a record deal on Enigma Records but turned it down… “Our attitude was why should we sign with an independent label when the majors were looking at us? It was the biggest mistake we made.”.. Poison was then offered the deal after Savage declined… Sheridan says that just shows you how hit and miss the music industry is… ..Big Hair in Dallas via Columbus, Ohio.. They were the glam darlings of the Lone Star State and were known as Sweet Savage, a Dallas based bleach blonde foursome that would pack any venue to capacity whether on the East Coast, West Coast or somewhere in between. Savage played in 25 states where setting an attendance record was as easy as doing the local groupies… The band consisted of Joey C. Jones on vocals, brothers Chris and Laine Sheridan on guitar and bass and Randy St. John on drums… Sweet Savage released a five song EP simply titled Sweet Savage on Savage Tunes, the bands own label. The record released in December 1985 and produced by Dana Strum quickly gained favorable reviews worldwide. With the resulting positive feedback, the first pressing of the EP quickly sold out and another run was pressed… For a few dollars here and there, fans could purchase shirts, buttons, promo photos and the EP at shows. In other words, standard merchandise items for the touring bands that generated cash for fuel and food… Fans would line up to get autographs, the broken drumstick, used pink imprinted guitar picks or sweat stained towels from the band after the show. It was a common sight… The EP secured the top slots of Kerrang magazine’s import record chart for 16 weeks ahead of such acts as Poison, Bon Jovi and Cinderella. The rercord eventually moved 30,000 copies worldwide and Metal Forces magazine gave it a ranking of 88 out of a possible 100… The cover story of the same issue featured the Sweet Savage rivals of the Dallas turf. This band also consisted of two founding brothers. These siblings went by the name of Vinnie Paul and Diamond Darrell Abbott. The band was called Pantera and the year was 1986, February to be exact… ..Vinyl Ingredients.. The Sweet Savage EP featured four originals, “On the Rocks,” “Do Ya,” “Head over Heels,” the slower “Breakaway” and one cover, “Fox on the Run.” All the songs would become nightly favorties of the Sweet Savage set… Of the four originals, “Head over Heels” and “Do Ya” were sure bets for heavy rotation on MTV and radio airwaves if only backed by a major label. The first song, “On the Rocks,” was more of a party ender that usually brought the Sweet Savage set to a close. The slower “Breakaway” would change the sets tempo with girls sporting tight lace and spandex outfits flocking to the dance floor… ..Savage Pal.. For two years straight from 1985-1987, Savage was a top draw but then things started to change… In the warmer months of 1987, Jones parted ways taking St. John with him and formed Pal Joey. The band was what Jones had been seeking all along. A group of musicians that played commercial radio oriented songs. In the mind of Jones, that’s where the keys to success were hidden. Unfortunately the Sheridan siblings didnt see it that way… Within a few months, Pal Joey gained momentum and a significant following, enough for Warner Brothers to put a four-album deal on the table. But as with all tied into the Sweet Savage family tree, everything fell through. In the end, there was once again, no deal… The members of Pal Joey were unable to agree on financial percentages and the band dissolved by summer’s end… Jones was back with the band but St. John was not. Sweet Savage attempted to jump start where they left off when Jones departed with new songs and a new look, the Hollywood Gypsy black leather look. Replacing St. John was Los Angeles based drummer Walt Woodward III who spent time in Americade and Shark Island… Ironically, in the Metal Forces issue where the Savage EP was reviewed, the Shark Island demo tape was reviewed with a band photo. Woodard’s photo was in the same issue as the Sweet Savage EP review, just pages apart… For a full year, Savage regained the following and once again returned to LA seeking the recording contract. But with each deal, the offers became smaller and smaller. At the same time, other bands were landing deals and the landscape of the LA scene was changing… In August of 1988, the band was in LA and unknown to the fans in Texas, they would not return. The Sweet Savage legacy would stay for good in Hollywood… ..Separate Ways.. The Jones era Sweet Savage came to an end on Saturday, August 20, 1988 at a small out of the way venue called the Green Door in Montclair. The three original band members and Woodard parted ways never to take the stage as Sweet Savage again… Jones continued with other music related projects creating commercial radio oriented songs in the band Shock Tu followed up Joey C. Jones and the Glory Hounds… Shock Tu was the first band for Jones after Sweet Savage and featured Ken Koudelka of Lillian Axe on drums and an unknown multi-talented Les Farrington on behind the scene keyboards and samples. A decade plus later, Farrington would front RCA recording artist Sugarbomb… The Hounds who featured Farrington and Adam Hamilton released one album through TNT Records in 1993. At the time, Hamilton was playing drums for the Hounds but now plays bass for LA Guns… The first single, “Been Thinkin’ Bout You” received decent radio airplay but MTV turned their heads to the other direction whereas European MTV did not… ..Part II.. Sweet Savage minus Jones attempted to bring back to life the band again a new front man by the name of Rick Clark. The Sweet Savage Syndicate mailed out neon green post cards announcing their anticipated return to Texas in April 1989 with the new line up and the new logo and new songs such like “Fire in my Heart” and “Love You / Hate You.”.. Plans were in place to take the new line up on an extensive tour of Texas with stops in Dallas, Houston, San Antonio and Killeen. The tour never materialized and Clark only played a few west coast shows with Sweet Savage… When the band called it quits for good in 1989, members went their separate ways. Woodard, St. John’s replacement became part of Hollywood Records recording artist the Scream and was band mates with John Corabi. It was Corabi who left the Scream to join Motley Crue as vocalist for one album in 1994… Laine Sheridan, the older of the two brothers would put the bass to the side and turned his artistic talents to marine life as well as other subjects on the paint canvas… Sheridan has had several showings of his art in England as well as the United States. But his love for marine life didn’t stop at the end of a paintbrush. Sheridan has spent time as a dolphin dive guide for excursions in the Bahamas… The younger Sheridan, Chris would begin schooling to become a filmmaker where he eventually created Walk this Way, a film about his near fatal plane crash in 1991. The accident left Sheridan with broken back but that didn’t deter him. Sheridan’s film earned him a Student Academy Award in 1997… Sheridan also dabbled as a live comedian. Instead of being a stand up comic he was more of a sit down funny guy but not by choice… St. John has spent time in various projects with his latest endeavor as drummer on Ty Tabor’s (King’s X frontman) solo disc… ..The Master Returns.. The master tapes of the Sweet Savage EP have been tucked away for over 15 years and unheard until recently… Several years ago, guitarist Chris Sheridan decided to bring back to life the music that should have been exposed to thousands or perhaps millions… Sheridan obtained the master tapes of the EP as well as live studio recordings and fan submitted live bootleg audiotapes. The fan submissions began to pour in when the project was announced by Sheridan and word started to spread among Savage’s current cult following. The result is Sheridan’s self financed effort titled ..Archives… The 13-track CD contains re-mastered versions of the five song EP and eight unreleased tracks. The CD is divided into three sections, the EP, Live Demos and Live Bootlegs… The EP portion of the disc is crisp and it’s refreshing to hear the classic club anthems in the disc format. For those who never knew the songs, now is a good time to play catch up and go back to the days when rock was fun… Part II, the Live Demos consists of three studio cuts featuring “Summer Song,” “Desert Rose” which was recorded at Tito Jackson’s home studio. And yes, the Tito will you get me a tissue Tito. The remaining track, “Love You Hate You” comes from a 1989 rehearsal with Clark on vocals… Track six, “Summer Song” is one of those songs that should have been an instant radio hit for the summer months. The reaction of the crowd every night at the Savage show was proof, just on a smaller scale. The crowd was a great test market… The song would have stood the test of time if exposed to the masses. It could have equated to Guns N’ Roses’ “Sweet Child O’ Mine.” That is the potential would have been no problem… The remaining five tracks in the Live Bootleg section, “Cut it Out. Déjà vu,” “Picture Yourself,” “Prisoner of Paradise” and “Crank it Up” were all recorded between 1987 and 1988 either in Dallas, Houston or Hollywood… From what Sheridan had to work with in the Demos and Bootlegs, the result is fitting. Sheridan took time to refine these rough recordings as much as possible and did a great job. If not for his time and effort, all 13 tracks on the disc would be gathering dust while stored in tape cases… Instead of just releasing a CD in the standard jewel case, Sheridan went above and beyond. The CD has been released in a digi book foldout format packed full of live photos of the band in their prime… The cover of the CD consists of four live shots with the latter day Sweet Savage logo but when opened, there’s another set of four live shots that are closer up. When opened for the last time, the listener will be bombarded with a collage of various sized live color and black / white photos as well as two group photos… The disc tray is clear allowing one to read a brief history of Sweet Savage that is laid over the original Sweet Savage logo with the back of the disc showing an impressive live full stage shot of Savage in all their glory with bright stage lights, colorful stage clothes and a massive amp line on each side… It’s hard to believe some of these songs are 20-years old but yet remain unheard to many unless they were in attendance during the Savage years… Only the higher authority knows what could have or should have been for this hard working band. Maybe it’s best for things to remain unknown but then again it would be nice to know how many lives could have been affected in a positive manner…

Sweet Savage – Sweet Savage [1985]

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Rating: 8.5/10 (11 votes cast)
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Rating: +1 (from 3 votes)
SWEET SAVAGE, 8.5 out of 10 based on 11 ratings
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