Friday, April 20, 2012

Flash Metal Suicide: Adam Bomb

Adam Bomb
Fatal Attraction
Geffen, 1985

Look, I don’t know how much is true, how much is sorta-true, and how much is merely puffs of purple smoke, but when it comes to Flash Metal Suicides, nobody’s wrists bleed more extravagantly then Adam Bomb’s. Back in the 80’s, you could crash an Aqua Net blowout just about anywhere – New York, LA, Seattle- and there’d be somebody jabbering about Adam Bomb. Sure, it wasn’t usually good - some angry ex-cohort telling tales of flying-high egos, or a stiletto-heeled cocaine bunny grousing about her trampled heart, or the cops flashing badges and A.B. 8X10’s – but that cat was most definitely IN THE MIX, baby. If you want stories, man, then Adam fuckin’ Bomb is the cartoon-monikered man to go to, cuz believe me, the dude has STORIES.

Adam Bomb (Adam Brenner to his lawyers) was born sometime in 1965 (almost certainly under a full moon), and grew up in Seattle, where, in his early teenage years, he played guitar in a metal cover band called Tyrant. The band featured an equally peach-fuzzed Geoff Tate, future Queensryche front-falsetto, on proto-prog metal vox. Two years later, he joined legendary Seattle hard-rockers TKO. Although Kjarten Kristofferson (later of the Bang Gang) is credited on the album cover, Mr Bomb was actually the guitar player for TKO’s finest album, 1984’s “In Your Face” (Combat Records), which was actually recorded in ’81, but shelved for years. Shelved albums have been a mainstay of Bomb’s career.

Rumor has it that Adam Bomb took the TKO gig after his first audition, with Kiss, fell through. He was 16 in ‘81, by the way.

In 1982, Bomb quit TKO and moved to LA, to become a solo artist. He shared a room with a pre-GNR Izzy Stradlin, who lived next door to Black N’ Blue axeman Tommy Thayer, who gave ‘em the “Bomb” part of his name, ‘cuz ‘Adam Brenner’ wasn’t gonna cut it in a town full of, well, Izzys and Slash’s and Dukey Flyswatters. Adam briefly joined Steeler, replacing Yngwie Malmsteen after he split for that hare-brained Viking solo project of his, but mostly, he spent the next year and half recording songs for the first Adam Bomb record.
Adam Bomb signed to Geffen in 1984 (admittedly, not a hard thing for a metal band to do in 1984, but still) and released “Fatal Attraction” a year later. It had already been released in ’84 in Japan, but the Yank version had been re-tracked, with a cover of “All the Young Dudes” tagged on, because, well, record label guys are fuckin’ dorks. Word has it that Adam Bomb himself actually played everything on the album, but the back cover credits Billy Idol’s bass player Phil Feit, ex-Riot man Sandy Slavin on drums, and ex-Aerosmith fill-in Jimmy Crespo on guitar. There’s about 500 other people credited on this ‘un too, including AC/DC bassist Cliff Williams, who added a little extra chug on “I Want My Heavy Metal

Personally, I really don’t care who played what. What I do know is that this was Adam Bomb’s – the man, the group, the concept, whatever it was- finest hour. Many, many people will argue this point, however. Not that they will steer you towards other stages in AB’s career, mind you. No, it’s just that lots of “metal” dudes in the 80’s HATED Adam Bomb. Mostly because of his name, surely, and at least a little because he had a song in metal-radio rotation with the impossibly dim-witted title “I Want My Heavy Metal”, but believe me, he was not beloved amongst kids with Slayer or Iron Maiden back-patches. But so what? Sure, he wore shoulder pads and had supermodel cheekbones, but the fact is, “Fatal Attraction” was a plastic-fantastic flash metal gem that neatly sutured 70’s glitter-rock with LA preen-metal, creating a cock n’ roll sensation that paved the way for glad-rag dandies from the UK and Sweden to make a decent living outta acting like they fuckin’ invented the idea of swirling Aerosmith’s raunch with Gary Glitter’s goofball pomp. The hell of it is, although Adam Bomb enjoyed at regional accolades and probably lotsa local pussy and blow, “Fatal Attraction” never rose above ‘cult’ record, and even then, it wasn’t the cool kids forming the cult. Which is quite a tragedy, once you find out what Mistah Bomb did with the rest of his time.

So lemme rectify that miscarriage of justice by pointing out what’s on offer in Fatal Attraction’s snaky grooves. Opener “SST” sounds like Ace Frehley just joined Judas Priest. It’s motorcycles and guitars that explode in showers of confetti. It’s a party where everybody dies at the end, 'cept for Adam. Bitchin’.

Cover time follows, with a rather tepid run of Mott’s “Dudes”. Bomb does a good Bolan on both vox and guits, but it’s puffball stuff, really. Much more fun is the infamous “I Want My Heavy Metal”, which is cool on about ten different levels. One being that it’s not heavy metal, it’s a shameless AC/DC cop, layered knee-deep in Hollywood sleaze. One listen to this over-the-top ode to all that’s heavy, and yer ready to bang whatever’s available on the hood of your daddy’s car. At 100 miles per hour. Classic cock rock lunacy.

You’ll Never Know” is cotton-candy power balladry that sounds more like Def Lep than even Heavy Pettin’ did. Typical 80’s junk, really, remarkable mostly because Adam sounds completely insincere throughout, which is funny.

Side A finishes off with the gooey, keyboard-laden prog-glam confection, “Fatal Attraction”. “FA” mixes 80’s Sweet with stripper anthem era Motley Crue. A manic and catchy song, which also contains the immortal line, “Watch out, she dissolves in water!” I’m still trying to figure that one out.

Side two opens with “Shape of the World”, a hook-heavy glam-rocker that sounds like Aerosmith and Kiss at the same time. “Shape” was Fatal Attraction’s planned hit, and was even made into a video, which I have never seen, but which surely featured Adam’s cheekbones. Contains the line “I’m gonna play in a rock and roll band/Gonna live in rock n’ roll land”, which I woulda wrote myself in 1985, if Adam hadn’t beaten me to it.

Take Me In” has biker-rock riffs and weird backwards drums. Which is enuff, I reckon, for the middle of side 2. “Russian Roulette” is another example of Adam Bomb’s glam-Priest alchemy, mixing up heavy-devy motor-chug with a booming, cock-rock chorus. It’s about Adam’s media-induced paranoia, and, speaking of booming, has a bunch of gun sound effects. “Russian Roulette”, see?

It’s a Bust”, fittingly enough, IS a bust. It makes an attempt at being a full-blown power-ballad, and a Hanoi Rocks-style glam rave-up, complete with saxophone and bloozy slide guitar. Mostly, tho, it sounds like the theme song to Saturday Night Live. Closer “Prime Evil”, strangely enough, actually IS a metal song, and a doom metal song, at that. Well, like the Tigers of Pan Tang attempting doom metal, but still. It’s got Randy Rhoads“You Can’t Kill Rock n Roll” licks mixed with stomping Sabbath nastiness, and it smells of sulphur and burning record contracts. And of Flash Metal Suicide, of course. Righteous.

Despite suffering from major-label concessions at every turn, the high-flying glitter-metal of “Fatal Attraction” showed great promise, and even today, tracks like “I Want My Heavy Metal” and “Shape of the World” sound like a young, horny Slade with stun-gun guitars, declaring war on phony rock n’ roll. Which is what ALL Flash Metal records are supposed to sound like.

Looking to capitalize on their buzz, Adam Bomb and his band went to England to record a new album, “Pure S.E.X.” (original title: “Dangerous When Lit”), but it would be another 100 or so years before it would see the light of day. Meanwhile, the band toured with Lords of the New Church, and Bomb himself appeared in Playgirl, in a Mick Rock-shot spread entitled “The Bad Boys of Rock”. I don’t know who else was in said spread, but I betcha nobody called GG Allin, El Duce, or any members of the Replacements for it.

In 1988, Adam Bomb-the-band still had no new record out. Adam-the-man, however, was having a hell of a year. He jammed with Chuck Berry on New Year’s Eve. He did a solo three week tour of the UK, using ex-Babysitters drunk-glam legends The Last of the Teenage Idols as his backing band. Then he went to Stockholm and played guitar in the fuckin’ Johnny Thunders band for two months. ’88 was a good year for me too, man, but not THAT good.

In ’89, Adam wrote and recorded songs with Steve Stevens, but you know how it goes with that cat. A year later, “Pure Sex” was finally released. However, it was on a French label, Musidisc, which was really no fuckin’ help to you and I. Meanwhile, the studio in New York where Bomb and Stevens recorded their new flash metal tracks went bankrupt, and their master tapes went missing. Or so the story goes. A year later, Adam emerged in the UK, where he formed the Last Bandits, with Dogs D’Amour bassist Steve James. They toured England throughout 1991.

Then Little Steven asked him join his band. Then Axl told him Izzy almost asked him to join GNR in’84. Then somebody held his master tapes from the Stevens sessions for ransom. Then Adam played a few gigs with Mike Monroe. And so on. It’s the craziest goddamn rock n’ roll story you ever heard, and almost all of it is true.

Last I checked, in 2003, Adam Bomb (the man) released a 9/11 themed album called “Third World Roar” and toured England with Swede sleaze-rock sensations the Diamond Dogs. According to his online bio, “His goals are to promote the electric guitar and keep rock 'n' roll alive”. And I believe him, brother. That part I KNOW is true.

- Sleaze
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