I remember it like it was yesterday. The year was 1990 and Headbanger’s Ball VJ Vanessa Warwick introduced this new Los Angeles based band called Love/Hate. The video she played was called “Blackout In The Red Room” from the band’s debut album with the same name and it blew my away so hard it felt like someone had punched me in the jaw. After that, that song was a standard at every damn party we had, no party would be complete without it – and it continued like that for many, many years. Fact is, I still try to include it as often as I can. I loved the album and even though its 1992 follow-up Wasted In America didn’t sport the same impact, I think it’s great – very underrated. But after that, when Grunge stepped in, it was more or less over for Love/Hate. They made four more albums with different constellations of the band until 1999 when they finally called it quits. However, for frontman Jizzy Pearl, nothing was over.
After Love/Hate, Pearl (real name: James Wilkinson) joined L.A. Guns in 1999, replacing Chris Van Dahl who had replaced Phil Lewis. When that fell apart after only one year, he joined Ratt as their new singer but he never recorded anything with them. The Ratt experience went on for five years before Stephen Pearcy decided to return and Pearl joined former Guns N’Roses drummer Steven Adler in his band Adler’s Appetite. After he jumped that ship he recorded three solo albums. Then, in 2013, Quiet Riot – or should I say Frankie Banali – called and asked for his services. Together they recorded a half studio / half live album, the horrible 10 – on which the live side was sung by Kevin DuBrow. That lasted until 2016 and then Pearl was on his own is own again. It needs to be pointed out that since Love/Hate’s demise in 1999, Pearl have been playing shows with Love/Hate with a whole lot of different members. That continues to this day. But now it was time for Jizzy to put out new music, this time as a solo album however with “Of Love/Hate” as a subheading.
The album opens with the first single “You’re Gonna Miss Me When I’m Gone”. It’s a straight-forward, raw and sleazy rocker that’s not a far cry from Love/Hate sound wise. It’s a fuel-injected stomper that’s out to kick your ass. And while it do kicks and screams, I only find it ok. It’s not bad but it doesn’t really stick with me either. “Comin’ Home For The Bone” – gotta love that title – is as sleazy and dirty as the title suggests, it’s raunchy and nasty and quite catchy and even though I think it’s better than the single, it’s doesn’t go all the way for me. A decent tune. “High For An Eye” comes in a heavier mode with sleazy vibes and a ballsy rhythm and a refrain that hits like a punch in the jaw. It do brings Love/Hate to mind and that’s not only due to Pearl’s voice. Best one so far. The title track is a gritty, edgy and roaring hard rocker that would have fitted the classic Love/Hate like a glove. Very good.
“House Of Sin” is a mid-paced sleaze rocker that brings on an early 90’s sleaze/glam Hard Rock vibe. It brings my mind back to the Wasted In America album – pretty catchy but maybe not the strongest tune in the world. It’s ok, though. “Mortified” is a raunchy and rough stomper that bounces off in a mid pace with lots of attitude, mean and lean with a really memorable refrain – a good tune. “Frustrate” is a crunchy hard rocker in a faster tempo. It’s tough, rough, raw and in-your-face trashy but it just won’t stick at all. Where’s the chorus? “When The Devil Comes” is a mid-paced, 70’s style rocker with a more bluesy feel and Zeppelin influenced riffing. It’s heavy and dark in sound, something that reminds me some of Alice In Chains – it sure feels like a breath of fresh air here. Great song. “You Don’t Know What It’s Like” is more pop-laden with a good groove and an acoustic guitar swing. Catchy melodies and smooth sounding but still a bit sleazy makes it one of the stronger tracks.
“It Doesn’t Matter” is a power ballad with a groove that screams 1990 that comes across like a bastard child from Warrant and Love/Hate. Love/Hate would probably never write something like this but Jizzy’s raspy and gritty voice makes it less cheesy. It’s catchy and the chorus sticks after first listen – very good indeed. In a slower pace comes “Little Treasures”. It’s a heavy piece that grooves in the way that Arena Rock did in the darker times in the mid 90’s. It’s weakest track on the album where the chorus fails to keep up any interest at all. Skip button alert! If the title wasn’t enough, “Mr Jimmy” is full of Led Zeppelin references in both lyrics, arrangements and the music itself. It’s a rough, raunchy, kicking and attitude laden. I could ad fat and ballsy to that as well – quite simple, it rocks. But quality wise I find the tune only ok and it fails to run me over the way a song like this should.
The fact that this album’s got a subtitle that says “of Love/Hate” speaks volumes of how this record sounds. It stands pretty clear that Jizzy is going back to recycle the classic Love/Hate sound here. So far, all is well. But the album comes with some major flaws – the song writing. The songs just aren’t good enough to make a lasting impression on me. There are not enough hooks, no hits, nothing that really reaches out and grabs me. Which is kind of strange as this album contains some high-octane, balls to the wall, rough and ready sleaze rockers. I’m not gonna say that this is a bad album because it’s not and I’m sure there are enough fans out there that will take this album home whole-heartedly but for me this is underwhelming. If I’m not misled it was bassist Skid Rose that was the main song-writer in Love/Hate and I guess that is what this record lacks – a Skid Rose. Any chance of a real Love/Hate reunion?
1. You’re Gonna Miss Me When I’m Gone
2. Comin’ Home To The Bone
3. High For An Eye
4. All You Need Is Soul
5. House Of Sin
8. When The Devil Comes
9. You Don’t Know What It’s Like
10. It Doesn’t Matter
11. Little Treasures
12. Mr Jimmy