A funny thing happens whenever a band makes it big. There’s a mad dash to replicate the same formula, in an attempt to achieve the same success. It rarely ever works. Witness the mad rush to emulate Nirvana’s success. During 1992, any band carrying a guitar in Seattle could get a record deal. And look at the number of bands which tried to grab hold of Korn’s coat tails. There is now a generation of people who believe guitars all have seven strings, and bass guitars five.
Before grunge and nu-metal were inflicted upon the world, there was a gold rush way out west. The race was on, to find the next Guns ‘n’ Roses. Hindsight tells us now that the search was fruitless, but if a few things had turned out differently, like a little luck here, or the right amount of exposure there, it may have changed the course of history.
Many bands tried their luck, but fell by the wayside, due to lack of talent or good ideas. Some were never going to make it. Imagine if the likes of Bang Tango or Sea Hags or Circus Of Power had actually made some impression on the world. And then, some bands deserved success, but it never came, like Junkyard.
Junkyard’s self-titled debut is a slab of sleaze, one part social commentary, one part celebration of the seamy side of life. While often lumped in with the hairspray and make-up glam brigade, Junkyard’s music has a harder, darker edge than much of the party time pop emerging from LA at the end of the 80s. This album combines the best traditions of beer-soaked bar room rock with old fashioned blues boogie, sounding like a swaggering mutation of Motörhead and ZZ Top.
There are a number of highlights to be savoured. The laid back piano tinkling of “Simple Man” pre-dates the Gunners’ ‘Use Your Illusions’ and the ever awful Black Crowes, even if it sounds a little dated and clichéd now. David Roach’s bourbon croaked vocals spin out a surprisingly gentle melody. “Hollywood” is a starry eyed anthem dedicated to Tinsel Town and its excesses. “Long Way Home” is a good old fashioned, drunken blues number, like George Thoroughgood on heroin, played so slow it’s almost going backwards.
Album closer “Hands Off” is the ultimate “fuck off, I’m better off without you” song. Roach sounds like he’s going to burst into tears at any moment because his girlfriend wants a bit of space, until he discovers she’s shagging his best mate, and suddenly his resolve hardens. He belts out the chorus of the song with much gusto. It should be a pissed-up karaoke favourite of anyone who’s ever been wronged by a woman.
Ultimately, Junkyard made only a small ripple in the wake of the Gunners, missing the opportunities picked up by less deserving and less talented bands. Junkyard recorded a second album, ‘Sixes, Sevens And Nines’ but by then it was too late.
Guitarist Brian Baker, formerly of straight edge pioneers Minor Threat, gave up metal and went on to join Bad Religion. However, Junkyard deserve to be more than just a side note in history.