I HAVE A love/hate relationship with 1980s/90s “hair metal.” It’s really one of the only forms of pop/rock music I can stand to listen to anymore, but sometimes it’s so fucking stupid it drives me crazy. Then again, the stupidity is a part of why it appeals to me in the first place, but it’s a fine line, you know?
Stumbling all over that fine line, snapping it in half, and stomping it beyond recognition, are Austin, TX’s Dangerous Toys.
Yes, back in 1987, Austin, TX, that precious land of dour Americana, indie jangle, and all things “South By,” gave birth to this red-headed, hair metal stepchild, so on one hand, props to Dangerous Toys for allowing something so wretchedly stupid to emerge from a place that’s so often insufferably pretentious.
But, on the other hand, there’s that fine line–while glorious stupidity can live forever and sustain a nation of millions in its wake (e.g. The Ramones), it doesn’t take wretched stupidity long to become as unwelcome as insufferable pretense. Then again, dudes with handlebar mustaches and short shorts playing disco music is pretty fucking stupid even if it’s trying to be smart, so I guess a better way of putting it is that wretched stupidity and insufferable pretense are two sides of the same coin.
I wrote an entry a few weeks ago about some vintage hair metal bands I’d never heard of. This time it’s a little bit different, because I’ve definitely heard of Dangerous Toys, I’m pretty sure I watched them on Headbanger’s Ball back in the day, and I probably even owned a cassette or two via Columbia House, it’s just that I either never listened to or don’t remember the track I came across today on Sirius XM’s Hair Nation.
It was on my way to get a haircut, appropriately enough, windows rolled down, Hair Nation blasting, enjoying the looks of consternation I get when blaring hair metal from my dirt spattered Toyota Matrix, when a Dangerous Toys track started playing, and I spit up my proverbial drink through my nose, even though I wasn’t drinking anything.
Sexual innuendos–decidedly bad sexual innuendos–are a given in the hair metal genre, but again, there’s a fine line. While one can generally suffer through the bag-of-hammers stupidity at play in the double entendres of a Ted Nugent, a Motley Crue, hell, even a Poison, there comes a point when that stupidity becomes too much to overcome en route to hair metal’s more redeeming qualities: the artfully excessive guitar solos, the bizarre garb that gives no quarter to society-at-large and instead clings with a vise-grip to its own internal logic, the pro wrestling style stage presentation, etc.
Well, Dangerous Toys comes to that point-of-too-much-to-overcome screeching and screaming with the absolute worst display of phoned-in hair metal innuendo ever, a display that makes even the most unabashed aficionado of a by-its-nature shameful genre hang his head in shame.
Clocking in at 3 minutes and 28 seconds, track number 6 on Dangerous Toys’ 1989 debut album of the same name is entitled “Sport’n a Woody.” And, from what I could decipher of the lyrics, there isn’t even a half-assed attempt to cloud the meaning…you know, the old, “Hey! I was talking about the car! AHAHAHAHAHA!” Nope, this song is straight up about some dude with an erection.
I always thought the art of hair metal lyricism lay in its sledgehammery-subtle layers of meaning. “Cherry pie” and all that. But here, Dangerous Toys says “fuck it” and goes with a literal approach. I guess they were cutting edge in a sense, prefiguring the 1990s and the “extreme” and “think outside the box” ethoi that informed that awkward decade. They also seem to have foreshadowed ads for erectile dysfunction medication and their warnings of erections lasting longer than 6 hours. The Dangerous Toys dude alleges his is going to be lasting “till the day he dies.” Wow. Good luck with that.
Here’s a clip of Dangerous Toys sporting their proverbial (or is it literal?) “woodies” as they “rock the Bayou” in 2008. Sponsored, apparently, by Bud Light:
I guess I should give them “big ups” for still doing the hair metal thing and not going out like Marky Mark in his “Rockstar” movie. But ultimately, when it comes to Dangerous Toys’ descent into fundamental literalism, I’m going to have to agree with Dusty Rhodes: