John Diva & The Rockets Of Love – Mama Said Rock Is Dead (SPV)
Is it possible to out-spoof Steel Panther? On this evidence it’s even easier than a Sunset Strip groupie offered a bourbon by a hair metal has-been.
As the joke wears pretty thin where the previously peerless Panther is concerned, poster boy Diva and his appropriately named Rockets reignite a genre with its roots in pink spandex and red hot choruses.
And this is one rollercoaster ride of retro cool from start to finish.
Whiplash kicks off with an appropriately crass crack of the whip before Lolita channels Van Halen and Poison with joyous abandon. It’s fair to say Diva doesn’t try to push the envelope here but he does pull out all of the stops to produce a truly memorable pastiche on 80s excess.
Rock N Roll Heaven sums up what this ripper of a record is all about: what should have been the title track to an unashamedly unoriginal album is a heady fusion of Kid Rock and Tesla with simple acoustica driving a belting tune.
And there’s more. Much, much more.
Bon Jovi is writ large across Blinded and there’s more than a hint of Def Leppard at the heart of Dance Dirty: if you haven’t got the picture by now then you never had posters of Cinderella and Ratt all over your bedroom walls in the late 80s.
On dreamy ballad Just A Night Away the doleful Diva brings a flavour of AOR heavyweights Bad English to the table and that’s no bad thing.
It might have been Gene Simmons who insisted Rock Is Dead but Diva’s mother clearly touched a nerve when she echoed the Kiss founder’s utterly depressing declaration. Like all rebellious offspring, Mrs Diva’s son is having none of it and this is a one-fingered salute to Simmons, his mam and anyone else who dares to put a dampener on the pure, unadulterated joy associated with cheesy pop rock at its bone-headed best.