Various Artists – Now That’s What I Call Power Ballads Hits (review)

Various Artists – Now That’s What I Call Power Ballads Hits (Legacy Recordings) review

Your lighter may run out of fuel – the best single disc collection of metal ballads ever assembled.

Let’s travel back in time to the late Eighties / early Nineties – when your hair had to be big and your metal had to be melodic. No matter how bad the boys were or how hard they rocked, they were always obligated to show off their sensitive side, in the form of a power ballad. Legacy collects 18 of the biggest of the short-lived genre in Now That’s What I Call Power Ballads Hits.

Although there have been other attempts to compile these songs (most notably, the 2-disc Monster Ballads set), this is the best, single-disc of metal ballads ever assembled. Song for song, it’s a pretty bullet-proof list of (pardon the pun) heavy hitters. Bon Jovi had lots of hits, but “I’ll Be There For You” is perfect for this collection, with its sing-a-long chorus. Metal lunks like Skid Row (“I Remember You”), and Warrant (“Heaven”), rub shoulders with brainier fare like Extreme (“More Than Words”), and Queensryche (“Silent Lucidity”). Not everything is obvious, either. Kiss invented the power ballad with “Beth” back in 1976, but is represented by the Michael Bolton-penned, seldom heard, “Forever.” There are also a couple of “non hair” entries like Boston’s “Amanda” and Cheap Trick’s “The Flame,” which still fit the mold.

For every Bon Jovi, who were able to have a long career, there’s a Slaughter or Kix, who are only remembered for their lone power ballad (“Fly to the Angels,” and “Don’t Close Your Eyes” respectively). Several musicians are actually featured more than once – Jack Blades sings and plays bass on both Night Ranger’s “Sister Christian” and Damn Yankees’ “High Enough,” while Neal Schon handles guitar on Bad English’s “When I See You Smile” and Journey’s “Open Arms.”

About the only glaring omission is anything from Poison – “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” would have been the obvious choice. Still, with 18 tracks, there’s plenty of songs to get your hands in the air, lighters flicked, pulling that special someone close to you. —Tony Peters