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As mission statements go, ‘Balls Out’s’ 'In The Future’, a nonsensical post apocalyptic sci-fi parable (in the tradition of Orson Welles yucking it up with Manowar *) sets the tone with portentous Orwellian (the other one) dread: some nefarious lesbian space vixens have wiped out the universe’s XY essences, and The Panfs are back from space to do some conscientious impregnating in a generous effort to repopulate the universe.
Launching into the thundering Judas Priest bolter 'Supersonic Sex Machine’, a robo-Real Doll marriage of Painkiller, Turbo Lover and Electric Eye, complete with immaculately ludicrous lyrical paeans to Rob Halford’s penchant for nonsensical cyber blather ('I’m a cybersonic sexbot made of steel’ indeed), 'Balls Out’ jams pedal firmly to metal for the ensuing forty five minutes. Providing ample shred support, six string prince Satchel, nee Russ Parrish (a Halford sideman from a more earnest decade) deploys a hangar load of bombastic widdly diddly ordnance in finest dive bomb NWOBHM dual axe duel tradition.
Tone well and truly set (and if you’ve got any doubts that the mixing board’s set to 'gleefully puerile’, a quick scan of the track list should put any lingering doubts to rest), the Panther’s sophomore disc bulldozes a rampaging course through the musical mores and 'thematic’ concerns of the '80s: parties, pussy, and hefty narcotics bills. **.
'Balls Out’ is a careening fourteen track romp through winking tip of the tongue riffery and cheeky nods to everyone from Van Halen (a given) through Mötley Crüe, Ratt, Cheap Trick, Whitesnake et al, with a generous tipping of the hat in the direction of the 'W’ section of the 'Sunset Strip Also Rans’ rolodex: Winger, White Lion and Warrant.
Particularly tasty swipes are reserved for Pommy poodle pop royals Def Leppard, who cop a thorough seeing to on sugary woo fest If You Really Love Me, and whose casual pomp misogyny cops a gleeful skewering on the headphones only 'That’s What Girls Are For’. ***.
Meanwhile, Steve Tyler would no doubt cheerfully pawn whatever’s left of his credibility to have penned the profoundly moving 'Why Can’t You Trust Me (Baby)?’, which features a stereo frying bridge of Bruce Fairbairn via Michael Bay proportions, and the snaking Mick Mars shout outs on 17 Girls in a Row (which features the immortal couplet 'wham to the bam to the thank you ma'am, then I praised the lord like Billy Graham’), embrace the lunkheaded broisms of The Crüe at their thickest.
Indeed, no smutty lyrical bon mot is left unmolested, and a full regiment of shameless single entendres are marched out, from the 'gimme’ golf oriented punnery of 'Just Like Tiger Woods’ to 'Let Me Cum In’s’ leering Gene Simmons-esque linguistic butchery. ****
Elsewhere, you’ll gasp at the audacious venomous reptile PSA It Won’t Suck Itself, replete with hysterical lead boogie antics from the estimable Nuno Bettencourt (and a vocal cameo from, er, Chad Kroeger); 'I Like Drugs’ gives self proclaimed 'skinny Vince Neil’ lead singer Michael Starr to engage his Diamond Dave caterwaul to full effect, and yet another cautionary tale, the emotionally fraught 'Gold Digging Whore’ throws in the hair metal kitchen sink trifecta: final chorus key change, 64 tracked cowbell and an awkwardly spelt out chant along refrain for the ages.
A giddy avalanche of ludicrously deft hooks, infectious harmonies, flashbomb theatrics and an embarrassment of dextrous chops, 'Balls Out’ is a jubilant, swaggering homage to the tawdry majesty of the most maligned musical genre of all: a resounding five shockers out of five.
* In this case it’s a blessedly over synthesised narration from douche comic extraordinaire Mr Dane Cook. But maybe that’s the point?
** Being: Treacherous aspirational ladies (who’ll 'do a gang bang with your friends’); testaments to being very good indeed at sex, the horrors of being denied said sexing, and techniques and strategies pertaining to the securing of non reproductive coupling (take your pick).
*** Track may also contain a solo referencing the fretwork of Vito Bratta. Fact.
**** If it’s euphemisms for onanism you’re after, this is your album: 'burp the worm’ makes a triumphant return to the vernacular, for starters.
© 2011 Garth Jones
Further reading: Steel Panther and Genre Exceptionalism.