Before there was grunge, much of the noisiest sounding rock and roll coming out of Seattle wasn’t from the more celebrated trendy downtown punk rock shitholes of historical note at all.
Rather, the noise came from more upscale, suburban neighborhoods like the East Side. It was there — most famously at the weekend “dances” held at the Lake Hills Roller Rink (which was kind of a shithole in itself) — that bands like Culprit, Lipstick, and most famously Rail (at least for their MTV produced fifteen minutes of fame), plied their glam metal trade.
In many ways, this was a younger, louder, snottier (and definitely prettier) bastard precursor of Seattle’s more notoriously angst ridden grunge sound.
Closer in spirit to the seventies glam rock of Alice Cooper, Iggy And The Stooges and the New York Dolls (and its latter day L.A. disciples Guns N Roses and Motley Crue), than to the downer rock of Nirvana, East Side metal was all about looking good and getting laid. It was a diverse scene that helped produce (among others), Metal Church, the pre-Mindcrime prog Queensryche, and (though they probably would never admit it), Alice In Chains.
Palooka is a Seattle based, modern day hard rock band with deep roots in this scene, and one that proudly and un-apologetically continues to celebrate the virtues of loose women, cold beer, hot cars and long hair.
Comprised of pre-grunge Seattle veterans like guitarist Glen Logan (Overlord, Bible Stud), Palooka’s debut album Whats Wrong With Wanting Everything is a metallic blast into Seattle’s less arty, harder rocking past.
On tracks like “Wrecking Ball,” “Shiny New Gun,” and the title track, Palooka summon the teenage wasteland attitude of seventies proto-punkers like the Dolls and the Dead Boys, combined with the hookier, eighties metal guitar polish of Crue, and (dare I say their name?), Ratt.
This is music intended for the crotch rather than the brain, and although they are surely older and wiser now, there’s little doubt Palooka would have it any other way. The rockers are likewise balanced by quieter moments like “Sun Will Rise”.
Mostly though, Palooka play their asses off here. The only real complaint is that the mix is a little muddy in places. A great guitar solo or piercing vocal should never be buried, the solid bottom of a rock steady rhythm section should remain there, and above all the hook of a great song should reign supreme. Just ask Ratt.
Minor quibbles aside, Palooka’s Whats Wrong With Wanting Everything is the sort of guilty pleasure that is perfect for thirty something armchair rock stars playing drunken air guitar at 2 AM in their underpants.
It puts the cock back into rock, just as it should be.