This Just In! Vain’s 1989 Debut Album Still Rocks! – Hair Metal Rewind

Released:  1989

Recorded:  1988 – 1989

Genre:  Sleaze Rock, Glam Rock, Hair Metal, Hard Rock

Record Label:  Island Records

Duration:  53:17

Producers:  Paul Northfield and Davy Vain

Personnel

  • Davy Vain – vocals
  • Danny West – lead guitar
  • James Scott – rhythm guitar
  • Ashley Mitchell –  bass guitar
  • Tom Rickard – drums

Track Listing

  1. Secrets
  2. Beat the Bullet
  3. Who’s Watching You
  4. 1000 Degrees
  5. Aces
  6. Smoke and Shadows
  7. No Respect
  8. Laws Against Love
  9. Down for the 3rd Time
  10. Icy
  11. Without You
  12. Ready

Singles

  1. Beat the Bullet
  2. Who’s Watching You

vain

In my eternal quest to uncover every hair-teased rock band from the mid ’80s to the early ’90s, I came across this CD at a yard sale. I had no clue what to expect as I had never heard of the band Vain before. But upon flipping the case over I was more than pleased to see 5 guys who had “the look.” No, not the look of a pop glam rock band wearing pounds of make-up looking pretty (I’m looking at you Poison, Jetboy, and Cinderella), but the look of a band who lived in the gutter, got into bar fights after their own concerts, and most definitely was into some heavy drinking and drugs. Don’t get me wrong, they were glam alright, just look at that hair, but they carried themselves with a little more attitude. Was I going to shell out the $1 for this unknown Vain album? You bet your ass I was. What did I think when I popped it in my CD player on the way home? It was one of the best finds I had ever come across.

Vain formed in 1985 but wouldn’t see an album release until 1989 with their debut No Respect. But that made no difference to the members as they were already considered a major act, appearing on the cover of Kerrang! magazine before they ever signed a major record deal. While L.A. was far and away the place to be when recording any hard rock music during the ’80s, San Francisco was slowly gaining some recognition with bands like Vain, Jetboy, and Sea Hags. Vain would be the most popular of those 3, and No Respect is often heralded as one of the best Sleaze Rock albums ever created.

No Respect oozes with sexuality driven by creator and frontman Davy Vain as his technique often includes moaning his lyrics as if he were getting a succulent blow-J at that very moment. While each song is unique and different from one another, the entire album has a distinctive sound that you know could ONLY have come from this album and none of their other efforts. Most notably you can hear drummer Tom Rickard’s furious lashing on the drums from song to song, but nothing compares to his slow, heavy, and methodical style on the song “Smoke and Shadows.” It is a slower song but that doesn’t make it soft. The drums have a bit of an echo-sound that makes me wonder if he met up with John Bonham for a drum-off in a castle somewhere. The guitar is especially distorted and gritty and shines with a lack of distraction from other instruments. “Smoke and Shadows” can only be classified as slow and heavy and worth every second of its nearly 6 minute excursion. “1000 Degrees” falls along a somewhat similar pattern as “Smoke and Shadows” but has a much heavier sexual overtone and a hair more speed.

no respect

Tracks such as “Secrets,” “Beat the Bullet,” “Who’s Watching You,” and “Ready” will have you banging your head and trying to start a mosh-pit in your mom’s kitchen with your family. She’ll most certainly tell you to remove your Walkman at the dinner table and you’ll absolutely have to punch your fist into the bowl of mashed potatoes to make it known that you can’t tell Vain what to do. The first 3 tracks on the album are uptempo, fast, and mildly heavy, but “Beat the Bullet” is possibly the best radio-track on the entire album. It’s perfectly composed and features a catchy and energy-laden chorus that makes you think Davy Vain is about to bust a nut when he screams “more more more.”

With the exception of the slower poor attempt at a ballad in “Without You” (by far the worst track on the album and was possibly forced at the demands of the label), the rest of the songs on this 12-track masterpiece fall on middle grounds in terms of heaviness, speed, and musicianship. “Laws Against Love” and “Aces” have especially catchy choruses but fail to make much of an impression. The title track “No Respect” features some interesting lyricism about wanting a girl so bad that you’ll allow her to abuse you and mistreat you because you have no self respect. Davy Vain says, “Go ahead and use me baby, when it comes to you, ain’t got no self respect. No respect for myself baby. Mistreat me right.” Unique lyrics for a rock band, to say the least.

The writing in No Respect is varied but mostly deals with sexuality and insecurities. Davy Vain really wears his emotions on his sleeve and put it all out there for everyone to hear. A recurring theme is a desire for sex and acceptance. Songs such as “Down for the 3rd Time” and “Laws Against Love” really detail Davy Vain’s struggles with love, sexuality, desire, and insecurities. “Baby cries, she knows he’s outside. She’d die to be by his side” from the song “Down for the 3rd Time” says a lot about people who would do anything to be loved. And “Excuse me if I’m trembling but with you it’s really love” from the song “Laws Against Love” is an interesting piece showing some of the singer’s insecurities. Rock Stars are expected to be cocky and downright confident, but Davy Vain took a different approach by being honest and touching on daily struggles with intimacy.

Overall, No Respect is a criminally underrated and forgotten album from the Hair Metal movement of the mid to late ’80s. Most will never get a chance to experience this album, but all of these songs are on YouTube so it’s worth a look. With a variety of high-energy rock, slightly detained pyrotechnic guitar work from lead guitarist Danny West, unique lyrics, and an overall darker sound than Vain’s pop-metal contemporaries, No Respect deserves much more recognition than it ever got. Unfortunately Vain’s 2nd album, which was recorded and fully mixed in 1991, wouldn’t actually see a release until 2010 and may have kept them from fully reaching their potential. Regardless, No Respect is a sleaze metal classic worthy of any collection. This album STILL rocks!

Originally published on Nerd Bacon, published October 23rd, 2o14. I’m an author for both sites, so use of this article has been permitted and authorized.

David Berry

David "Nerdberry" is the proud founder and owner of Nerdbacon.com, a video game reviews and news website. Nerdberry owns a local pressure washing business in North Carolina, has a family, and a little house. With a college background in film and a personal love for dissecting movies, he feels aptly suited for Modern-Neon. The jury is still out on whether or not Modern-Neon wants him. We'll see. But he is excited to be part of the team here in an effort to help it grow!

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