By JAY ROBERTS
The Cassette Chronicles is a continuing series of mini reviews and reflections on albums from the 1980’s and 1990’s. The aim of this series is to highlight both known and underappreciated albums from rock, pop and metal genres from this time period through the cassette editions of their releases. Some of the albums I have known about and loved for years, while others are new to me and were music I’ve always wanted to hear. There will be some review analysis and my own personal stories about my connection with various albums. These opinions are strictly my own and do not reflect the views of anyone else at Limelight Magazine.
PRETTY BOY FLOYD – LEATHER BOYZ WITH ELECTRIC TOYZ (1989)
I must admit that while I’ve been aware of Pretty Boy Floyd since they first appeared on the music scene, I can’t really say I’ve got any great memory of their music. When I pulled the Leather Boyz With Electric Toyz cassette out of The Big Box of Cassettes, it marked the first time I’d ever sat down to listen to any of the band’s albums. Maybe I’d seen one of their videos on Headbanger’s Ball back in the day or heard a track on Dee Snider’s House of Hair radio show but the band just never made an impression on me.
So when I listened to this debut album from the band, I was surprised to find myself enjoying the album…a lot! Released in 1989, it has all the earmarks that you’d expect to find from a glam band of the era. Singer Steve “Sex” Summers, guitarist Kristy “Krash” Majors, bassist Vinnie Chas and drummer Kari “The Mouth” Kane have a big brassy sound, plenty of fast paced rocking tracks and the requisite power ballad. And they certainly had plenty of that “glam metal” look and style.
As far as the fast paced rocking tracks go, the band wastes no time in putting on a fiery display of bold guitar-led rock and roll. The first side of the album opens with the title track which quickly captures your ear with a catchy vibe musically and one big earworm of a chorus. The lyrics seem plenty self-referential which is a theme that shows up on a few other tracks as the album played through. I can’t rightly recall if this particular style of lyric writing was heavily predominant in 1989 or not but it did seem to work well for the band here.
The first of the two singles (with accompanying videos) that were released from the album was the song “Rock & Roll (Is Gonna Set The Night On Fire)” and it is another fast moving track that set you back on your heels a bit with its relentless pacing.
I wasn’t that crazy about the song “Wild Angels” though. It’s a slow to midtempo power ballad track that just felt a little weak to me. It wasn’t absymal as some ballads of the era were or have become over time but my notes on the song were “Eh…ok” so I’d say this would be the skip track of the album for me.
The remaining two songs on the first side of the album were pretty good though. “48 Hours” an ode to rocking out on the weekend was pretty good and Pretty Boy Floyd’s cover of the 1981 Motley Crue song “Toast Of The Town” was a nicely done remake.
When the second side of the album is played, you get five straight songs that gives Leather Boyz With Electric Toyz that much more of a memorable edge. “Rock And Roll Outlaws” and “The Last Kiss” are straight forward rockers that will get you pumping your fists like a madman.
The band’s second single was, unsurprisingly for the times, the power ballad “I Wanna Be With Me”. But what did surprise me about the song is how the balance between the slower pacing of the main verses and the big bold harder rocking chorus was handled perfectly. It was a really decent track. I will say that using the song to close the album was strange but still a good song is a good song no matter where it places in the running order.
The song “Your Mama Won’t Know” is an over-the-top burner of a track. While the character embodied by Summers in the vocals is trying to talk what I can only assume is some girl into “fooling around”, the rest of the band puts on an incredibly razor sharp and blitzing musical onslaught.
The surprise track of the second side of the album for me was “Only The Young”. No, this is not a cover of the Journey track of the same name. What got me was the way the song starts out as more of a ballad. And not a particularly interesting one. I was THIS CLOSE to kind of tuning out. But then the song suddenly burst out into a full bore rocker and the song got a lot better. In the end, despite that stiff start, I quite enjoyed the song.
The Leather Boyz With Electric Toyz turned out to be a lot less successful than anyone involved with the creation and release of the album had to be hoping for. It peaked at #130 on the Billboard album chart in 1989. However, what I found (however long delayed) was that whatever the album and band lacked in terms of sales, the music was highly entertaining and definitely worthy of giving it another listen if you haven’t checked out the first Pretty Boy Floyd album in a while.
NOTES OF INTEREST: Pretty Boy Floyd broke up in 1991 but they’ve gotten back together a couple of times and are still active (with a host of lineup changes) today. Original bassist Vinnie Chas passed away in 2010.
Leather Boyz With Electric Toyz was the first of three full-length studio albums from Pretty Boy Floyd. Size Really Does Matter came out in 2004 and Public Enemies was released in 2017. There has been one EP and two live releases as well.
The 2003 reissue of Leather Boyz With Electric Toyz came with 5 bonus tracks. A second reissue came in 2011 which had a cover of the Alice Cooper song “Department Of Youth” included. Cooper is one of four artists thanked in the original liner notes.