Record companies have made a lot of money by repackaging hits from the 80s and 90s into collections that 30- and 40-somethings can enjoy. Packages like the Big 80's, Just Can't Get Enough New Wave and Monster Ballads have sold well enough to warrant a plethora of follow-up albums and copycats in their respective series. VH1, holder of the nostalgic flame of the era, has found another niche in their Metal Mania Stripped collections. They deliver once-popular songs, mostly ballads sung by the original artists, add the acoustic element and market them to people like me who can't seem to relive "the good ol' days" too many times. I blame Tesla and their 1990 album, Five Man Acoustical Band, for making acoustic albums relevant, but I can't help but like the reworking of some of my favorite songs, even if it is only for nostalgic reasons.
Just released is the third installment of the Metal Mania Stripped series, cleverly titled Volume 3. The album contains most of the usual suspects: Winger, Tesla, Tom Kiefer of Cinderella and Jani Lane of Warrant all make their third appearance in as many albums. Many of the bands are making their second appearance, while there are five newcomers on the collection. Several of the songs are done by one or two members of the original bands. Tommy Shaw and Jack Blades do a new rendition of the Damn Yankees hit "High Enough." Kip Winger does a darker, piano and cello driven version of "Headed for a Heartbreak," and Tom Kiefer does a solo of "Nobody's Fool." The three standout songs on the album are "Don't Close Your Eye"s by Kix, a cool version of "Turn Up the Radio" by Steve Plunkett of Autograph and the surprise adaptation of "Balls to the Wall by Accept." Unfortunately, songs by Slaughter and Stephen Pearcy prove that time can be very unkind to the vocal chords, but are welcome nonetheless.
The inherent problem with these albums is that many of these recordings are also available on other CDs. Only eight of the 15 recordings are new, a fact not revealed until you open up the CD and check the liner notes. This might lead a true fan who already has most of these recordings to believe that he is being ripped off to some degree. I choose to look on the positive side: This album has a lot of songs that bring back a lot of memories, both good and bad. There are interesting interpretations of songs I have never heard before, and overall it was worth the cash. This is for hardcore "hair metal" fans only, though.
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