Top Five Moments from The Decline Of Western Civilization: Part II
Odin circa 1988
Those that missed Motley Crue at last week's Sunset Strip Music Festival will not have to wait long to get another chance to relive the swagger of 1980s hair-rock. On Saturday night, '80s glam-rockers Odin will return to the Whisky A Go-Go. Odin released several EPs and one full-length album (Fight For Your Life) during their heyday. Despite having strong support at the time within the Los Angeles rock scene, mainstream success eluded the band. Odin never got the major-label break or fame that was received by contemporaries such as Slaughter and Faster Pussycat. Outside of Los Angeles, the group is perhaps best known for an infamous scene in Penelope Spheeris' 1988 documentary, The Decline Of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years.
Only seven years took place between the release of The Decline...Part II and its predecessor, but when compared to the filthy grime of the early '80s punk scene covered in that film, it may as well have been fifty years. The Metal Years captured the manic sleaze of the 1980s Sunset Strip metal scene, focusing mainly on then-burgeoning glam-rock acts such as Faster Pussycat, Odin, and London, as well as a horribly out-of-place Megadeth. With Odin returning to the Strip for their first performance in three years, we felt this would be a good time to revisit The Decline Of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years and share our top five moments from this time capsule of 1988.
5. Lemmy being a cool motherfucker
A lot has changed since 1988. One thing that has not is the fact that Lemmy is a cool motherfucker. Gene Simmons did his interview at a lingerie shop surrounded by scantily-dressed models. Numerous bands teased their hair, and put on full make-up to tell tales of rock and roll excess. Lemmy does not have time for any of that shit, and brings everyone back down to earth by hanging out at the top of a hill, smoking a cigarette, and wearing a jean jacket. His segments throughout the movie are a stark contrast to the outlandish antics/wardrobe of those around him. From 3:55-4:02 in the above clip, Lemmy boils down the essence of rock n' roll and heavy metal better than anyone has before or since. And immediately following that is Paul Stanley lying in a bed drowning in groupies.
4. London burns the Soviet flag on-stage.
London's segment during The Decline...Part II is awesome for several reasons. Highlights include vocalist Nadir D'Priest bragging about an altercation with a cop, a breakdown of the hard rock royalty that passed through the band's revolving door (including Nikki Sixx, Slash, and Izzy Stradlin), and failed attempts at banter with the crowd during a live set. The above clip is the peak of this segment, as D'Priest introduces the song "Russian Winter" by participating in the hollow gesture of burning the Soviet flag on-stage. This is initially funny when the flag does not burn at first. This is then made funnier by the performance of the song itself, which has lyrics that appear to be apolitical and not about anything in particular.
3. The '80s rock version of the Aristocrats joke
The 2005 documentary The Aristocrats explores a dirty joke told by comedians in private circles, depicting a shockingly deviant audition by one or more persons for a talent show. The beginning and end are usually the same, with the comedian telling the joke filling in his/her own tawdry details of the middle. From 4:05-5:02, Bret Michaels & Bobby Dall of Poison, Gene Simmons, and Ozzy Osbourne each tell sordid tales of groupie interaction, all of it cut together in a manner that makes it seem like they could be talking about the same exact experience. It's like a perverted version of the "Finish The Story" improv game.
2. ODIN! ODIN! ODIN!
Assless jeans, a hot tub party with more girls than members of the band, and the endorsement of legendary club owner Bill Gazzarri, who exclaimed that "they're going to be bigger than David Lee Roth!" Odin had all of this going on before even getting signed to a major-label. A rising force in the L.A. rock scene at the time, Odin goes on to let people know that they are going to make it, that they are going to go down in history, and that having their talent is like "having a million-dollar check without having a bank to cash it." Odin did not end up having mainstream success and broke up in 1991. In the years that have passed since the release of The Decline...Part II, the band has been mocked by many for this interview. On the other hand, we here at West Coast Sound praise Odin. We believe that this is the attitude that every up-and-coming band should have. If you do not think your band is awesome, why the hell should anyone else?
1. Chris Holmes is a piece of crap (his words, NOT ours).
Really, was anything else going to be in the number one position? Whether it was real vodka or simply water being chugged by WASP guitarist Chris Holmes, it is obvious that he was very inebriated at the time this was being shot. The most compelling interview of the movie, Holmes drunkenly reveals that even at the peak of the band's fame, he has some serious self-esteem issues to cope with. Made even more compelling by the presence of his worried mother, this interview is a jarring break from the overall fun and good-time vibes of the rest of the movie.
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.