Under The Influence
If I told you there was a band that was signed by Capitol Records in 1990 and the deal was bigger than what a band like W.A.S.P. got in 1984 would you know who I was referring too? Probably not. Although a few who know their history just might. If I mention that the first album released under that deal was Under the Influence you might know who I refer too. The band I refer to is known as Wildside, formerly known as Young Gunns. That was until Lions Gate Studios and Artisan Entertainment sent out the cease and desist letter because of the forthcoming movie. This caused the band to decide on another name, and Wildside reflected the band’s thoughts and lifestyle.
Young Gunns with a Wildside
The band literally rocked up and down the Sunset Strip earning a following all along the way, and gained the attention of entertainment lawyer Dennis Ryder. Before becoming Wildside, the band consisted of Benny Rhynedance (guitarist/songwriter) & vocalist Drew Hannah. Both were from the pre-grunge Seattle music scene. They came to Los Angeles in 1986. Paying their musical dues on the club scene as a glam band known as Rogue, the boys disbanded their Seattle band and formed The Boys, which turned into Young Gunns. They enlisted a second guitar Brent Woods from a band titled Alrisha, and bassist Marc Simon from the glam band St. Valentine. Next was a permanent drummer, and they soon found Jimmy D.
The Glory Years
The assault on the Sunset Strip begins. With sold-out shows from The Roxy, The Troubadour, and The Whiskey A-Go-Go, the local rock press and record labels began to sit up and take notice. In 1990 Capitol Records got ahold of Dennis, and a bidding war for the band began between Capitol and Polygram. Capitol won out with a 2 Million dollar and 7 album deal, and this became the biggest signing of a band since W.A.S.P. in 1984.
In 1994, Under The Influence was released, without much fanfare, until they toured with Roxy Blue, and Babylon A.D. After sales picked up the band did their own headlining tour from the end of ’92 until spring of ’93. Unfortunately, this marked the peak of their career. In 1993, the grunge had begun. Regardless of the contract, and a management shakeup at Capitol Records, the band was released, and the contract void. This also caused a bit of a shakeup within the band. The band did, however, continue to tour into ’94 and write songs for a new album to be released in the future. Brent Woods left the band to join Vince Neil’s band as a hired gun, and Benny left soon after. The band did release a self-titled album in 1995. The fans rejected it claiming that it was just another band jumping on the grunge bandwagon. That’s ironic since they were originally from Seattle and a grunge band back in the day.
Wildside Still Under The Influence
Fast forward to 2020. Finally, the album that should have come out back then. Available now from FNA Records is Wildside – Formerly Known as Young Gunns. Fifteen new tracks that reflect the attitude, and music that we Wildside fans know. Now, remember these are actually written BEFORE the Under the Influence album. Honestly, I have to ask myself, if the band had these in the vault (so to speak) why did we get that self-titled grungy album in 1995? It doesn’t matter now because this album is absolutely a great album and takes me right back to the Sunset Strip Heyday.
So, Let’s get into the album…
“I’m Gonna Get You” has a bluesy vibe and attitude that just drips out of your speakers. After that fun little romp with that tune, we are into track two called “Easy As 1-2-3”. This could have easily been a RATT tune. It really has that swagger and sound. However, Wildside…Correction… Young Gunns rock the hell out of this track. A guitar breakdown in the middle and the pounding percussions take you back to a better time.
“Little Piece of Heaven” is next and I dare you to not immediately start air-drumming along with this one. Again, I cannot believe they had quality tunes like this and Capitol didn’t use them as another album before tearing up the contracts, but I guess the grunge movement had massive dollar signs attached that appealed more to the musically challenged top brass that took over the new seats at Capitol.
A song that could have challenged any of the top power ballads is “Cold December Morning”. Images come to mind of a person grasping a hot drink and just seeing the other sitting quietly without knowing that they are being stared at, and memories flash by of good times. Hmm…This might make a good video pitch! Probably one of this listener’s favourite tracks on the album.
Bad Girls & Little Sinners
Right back into the muck of things. “Bad Bad Girl” should speak for itself as far as the style of the tune. However, this track has a demo-like quality to it. Maybe it’s just something about the production on this one. That is however not the case with “Sweet Little Sinner”. With a guitar that sounds eerily like another tune that I just cannot place at the moment, it has pounding bass and drums that drive the track, and some very well played guitar and vocals that come right at ya. You have a track that could have been a live gem back in the day…. hell even now it would be a stellar live track!
“City of Love” holds the 7th spot on the album and kicks off with a guitar/drum force that just gets your ass up outta the chair. This is another one that slightly has that demo-ish feel to it. This time it’s in the vocals. This doesn’t distract you from the fact that the song kicks ass and takes no names. “One Touch” has that classic feel straight from the gutters of L.A. The star of this one is the guitar.
Hot Love on the Dance Swing
Halfway in we get “Dance-Swing”. Sung in a lower register, the music is just straight forward with a subtle undertone of sleaze. Scattered in are those bad words your mother all warned us about, but once you hear the lyrics, you can be sure to know what the song is about. “Hot Love” slides into the tenth slot. Guitars open with an almost record sounding vibe with that slight hiss, then the drums kicks in and the quality changes. I’d have to say the lyrics on this one, just didn’t grab me at all, but the vibe is really cool, and it’s got some great playing here saving the tune from the skip button.
Without giving the whole record away, I’m gonna leave this after describing one more track for ya. “Here In The Dark” is another one of those great “Strip” era tunes that you can just see them performing on the stage at the Whiskey A-Go-Go, and see the sweating crowd jumping up & down enjoying the hell out of the tune and giving the reputation that Young Gunns, aka Wildside, deserved, and earned.
This is a perfect example of a band that had the looks, talent, and fanbase to succeed to the levels of GNR, Ratt, Motley Crue etc. That the band, had they been around even five years earlier might have reached the levels that they deserved to reach. With that in mind, at least we got a great album from them, and now another great album. Any fan of Wildside can truly grab a hold of and remember the days when music like this ruled the Strip, and the world.
Rock On! Keep Rock & Roll Alive!
Furthermore, check out all my reviews: Trevor’s Archives
Trevor “Psychoone” McDougall
Email Me at: Trevor “Psychoone” McD
- Benny Rhynedance – Rhythm/Lead Guitars, All Duet/Harmony Vocals
- Drew Rosenfeld – Lead Vocals
- Marc Simon – Bass
- Jimmy D – Drums
- Brent Woods – Guitars
- I’m Gonna Get You
- Easy As 1-2-3
- Little Piece Of Heaven
- Cold December Morning
- Bad Bad Girl
- Sweet Little Sinner
- City Of Love
- One Touch
- Hot Love
- All Over You
- Can’t Stop
- Here In The Dark
- Do You Want Love