When you think of 1980s rock, you’ll probably think of Motley Crue, KISS or Bon Jovi (or, thanks to Glee, maybe Journey). From sweeping power ballads written specifically to get lighters waved to down ‘n’ dirty party anthems that put many rappers to shame, glam is an exceptionally fun form of music. Yet alongside the likes of Whitesnake or WASP, there was one band who never got their chance to shine. That band was Tyketto.
Put together in 1987 by vocalist Danny Vaughn, the quartet released their debut album, Don’t Come Easy, in 1990. Classics like Motley Crue’s Shout at the Devil (1983), Bon Jovi’s Slippery When Wet (1986) and Guns ‘N Rose’s Appetite for Destruction (1987) had been and gone. Tyketto’s attempts to break through came too late since glam was already on its last legs, soon to be finished off by the rise of grunge. Don’t Come Easy might knock the socks off anything produced by Poison or Skid Row, but it’s such an overlooked album.
Still, that doesn’t stop it being a fantastic collection of ten songs. It’s entirely possible you’ve heard Forever Young but just didn’t know it was Tyketto. It’s probably the band’s own Livin’ On A Prayer, but with the advantage of not having been murdered at karaoke nights the world over for the past 25 years. Sail Away could have been their Don’t Stop Believin’. (Ironically, Steve Augeri joined Tyketto as their lead vocalist in 1995 for their Shine album, and Augeri went on to front Journey in the 1990s). Standing Alone is the kind of soaring power ballad that American Idol singers would sell body parts for – and subsequently ruin. Walk on Fire is my own personal favourite because it’s just so damned catchy.
I think the key to Tyketto’s brilliance is not necessarily their technical musical ability (after all, just wrap your ears around anything by Extreme’s Nuno Bettencourt if you want to hear true guitar virtuosity), but rather Vaughn’s vocals. By Jove, the man can sing! Only Paul Stanley exceeds him in terms of range, but what Vaughn lacks in falsetto, he more than makes up for with gusto. He’s got a deeper voice than most glam singers and he eschews the nasal stylings of Bret Michaels and Sebastian Bach. He’s just a stunning vocalist – it’s hardly surprising that Tyketto’s weakest album should be the one that doesn’t feature his vocals. Seriously, if I could marry a voice, it would be his.
It’s shocking that they’re not better known, especially since they always go down so well during my glam set when I’m out DJing. Now you know who they are – get listening.