Mötley Crüe publicity photo
Photo: Publicity photo courtesy of Elektra Records

10 Essential Glam Metal Albums

‘Nöthin’ But a Good Time’ authors list their essential glam metal albums to help new listeners find the era’s best music.

Nöthin' But a Good Time: The Uncensored History of the '80s Hard Rock Explosion
Tom Beaujour and Richard Bienstock
St. Martin's Press
March 2021

Faster Pussycat: Faster Pussycat (Elektra, 1987)

Plenty of bands on the Strip in the mid-’80s rocked…but only a few of them rolled. Faster Pussycat’s debut was released the same month as Guns N’ Roses’ Appetite for Destruction, and like their one-time friends and peers, Pussycat had that Stones-y, Aerosmith-y swagger down pat. But whereas Guns N’ Roses kept their grooves tight and tough-as-nails, on Faster Pussycat Taime Downe and Co. sound on the verge of shimmying right off a cliff. That looseness makes for some killer jams – the entire first side of the record; deep cut “City Has No Heart” –  if not necessarily an effort built for multi-platinum success. If you’re looking for an album that encapsulates the tragi-comic trashiness of prime mid-‘80s Strip life, look no further. – Bienstock


L.A. Guns: L.A. Guns (Vertigo, 1988)

L.A. Guns’ first album didn’t come out until 1988, but band leader Tracii Guns is a Sunset Strip O.G. rocker (you may have heard of another surname-bearing act he helped to found a few years earlier), not to mention a shit-hot guitar player. So it’s hardly surprising that with L.A. Guns, he concocted a tightly focused (and also so-heavy-it’s-verging-on-metal) debut. The addition of former Girl singer Phil Lewis adds a touch of Brit-glam swagger, but otherwise, L.A. Guns is a bare-bones, stripped-down, sex-death-and-motorcycle-obsessed aggro-rock effort – the sound of Hollywood in all its seedy, black-haired, leather-wrapped grit and glory. – Bienstock


Kix: Blow My Fuse (Atlantic, 1988)

Already regarded as one of the era’s best live bands, Maryland natives Kix finally captured the celebratory intensity of their stage show with this, their fourth studio album. Standout tracks like “Cold Blood”, “She Dropped Me the Bomb” should have been huge offer high-voltage fist-pumping choruses while the album’s hit ballad, “Don’t Close Your Eyes” demonstrates that vocalist Steve Whiteman was one of the decade’s best belters. – Beaujour


Skid Row: Skid Row (Atlantic, 1989)

Led by the songwriting tandem of guitarist Dave “Snake” Sabo and bassist Rachel Bolan, Skid Row’s debut is a barnstormer from front to back, and its trio of hits – “Youth Gone Wild”, “18 and Life” and “I Remember You” –  arguably comprise the finest anthems and power ballad of the decade. What’s more, the record is a guitar player’s dream – when Sabo and co-guitarist Scotti Hill aren’t churning out insanely hooky riffs, they’re using every free bar of music to cram in shredding licks and solos and all manner of six-string screeches, pings, howls, and squeals. And then there’s Sebastian Bach, whose voice acts as a sort of beautiful battering ram – overwhelmingly powerful and technically stunning… and verging on completely unhinged. Few bands of the era emerged as fully-formed as New Jersey’s finest. – Bienstock


Warrant: Cherry Pie (Columbia, 1990) 

Before his untimely demise, Warrant frontman Jani Lane often bemoaned the fact that he would forever be known as the “Cherry Pie Guy”. Sure it’s easy to argue that the singer should have appreciated the fact that he had scored an enormous hit with the song, but its runaway success did obscure the fact that Cherry Pie, the album, features some of the tightest, and often downright poignant songwriting of the glam era in tracks like “I Saw Red” and “Bed of Roses”. – Beaujour

PopMatters