Sea Hags - Sea Hags (re-issue) (Rock Candy Records) – Keith Boyd – 12.14.7 (editors note: a previous band I worked in had the pleasure of a few death dealing sessions with the Hags guitarist after they imploded. It was a very bright SDSU neighborhood we walked out of and into the darkness of scorching guitar blackness, never to be forgotten. It was so over the top it was elegant and blinding at the same time.)
Once upon a time Good Old Fashioned Hard Rock had lost its edge. Somewhere between the late 1970’s through the mid 1980’s Rock went flaccid and most of the edgier offerings were coming from the realms of Punk, Hip-Hop and even New Wave. Gone were the days of Led Zeppelin’s “Heartbreaker” and Deep Purple’s “Space Truckin”. Now all the Rock Children had to listen to were the more corporate sounds of Def Leppard, Bon Jovi and Journey. Okay there were a few stand-outs. The mighty Motorhead and the eternal AC/DC both put out stone(d) cold classics (check out “Ace of Spades” and of course “Back in Black”) during the period but they were the exception rather than the rule. Your other alternative were the “Hair-Bands”. God-awful messes and monstrosities such as Cinderella, Poison, Ratt, and Motley Crue were all pedaling various forms of derivative Glam come Pop that simply DID NOT satisfy. Look, I don’t care if they were million dollar sellers. I don’t care if you spent your entire trust fund on Aqua-Net and spandex during the period. I don’t even care if you copped your first feel while “Every Rose Has its Thorn” played on your crappy car radio. IT JUST WASN’T HEAVY-DUTY HARD ROCK!! Stepping into this mix and laying waste to it all in 1987 came Guns-n-Roses with their amazing debut, “Appetite for Destruction”. In one fell swoop (just as they would be fell swoop a few years later by Nirvana’s, “Nevermind”) the book was re-written. That album had its Stones’ swagger. It had its punky edge. It pushed up the ante with relentless songs, screamed vocals and amazing guitar playing. Instantly the scene was divided. A darker, leather pants clad drunken sexuality stumbled in and in the wake of it came a group of other bands determined to sleaze it up even more. Some of these were interesting (Faster Pussycat), some were uneven (LA Guns) and some were downright terrible (Skid Row) but they all shared a scrappy, underdog vibe and they were all aiming towards at least trying to bring back the “Hard” in “Hard Rock”.
One of the best bands to come out during this period blazed through so quickly most people don’t even remember them was, “Sea Hags”. Hailing from San Francisco they were around long enough to record one album, tour a bit and they dissolve in a blaze of drugged excess and bad timing. It was on one of these all too few tours that I saw the band play at San Diego’s legendary dive, “The Spirit Club”. With their bikery swagger and killer Aerosmith meets New York Dolls meets a punked up Guns-n-Roses they really put on a show. The band seemed poised on the brink of whatever that next great step might be. I’m sure that with another album and tour under their belt it would have blown up huge. They might have even had just enough ragged glory to bridge the up-coming Grunge divide. Alas it wasn’t meant to be. In 1991 bassist Chris Schlosshardt died from a heroin overdose and in the fallout no stable lineup could ever be assembled. The one album they put out was a rip-snorting Bluesy-Rock monster with some bonefide classics, “Doghouse” and “Half the Way Valley” and the obvious potential of great things to come. Originally put out on Chrysalis the set was produced by Mike Clink who had done the honors on G-nR’s “Appetite”. Under his tutelage the band tightened up its sound and found a way to translate their wild live energy into a studio. The result was an excellent rock album you wouldn't be embarrassed to have sitting in your stacks next to The Clash’s, “London Calling” or The Rolling Stones, “Exile on Main Street”. I’m not trying to imply an equal status or similar tonality between these records. It’s more that they came from a genuine, heartfelt place and as such carried the same aura of authenticity. The Sea Hags even had the taste to have Bay Area 60’s album/poster artist Rick Griffin do the album cover.
We can all play the “what might have been” game and we can usually play it ad nauseum. Sea Hags could’ve been one of the greats. They should have recorded more. They should’ve cleaned up and gotten sober. The fact still remains that this is the one document we have of this band and it’s all we’ll ever have. As such we can all be thankful to Rock Candy Records for re-discovering a gem. They’ve re-mastered it, added two outtake demos and interviewed most of the guilty parties for the liner notes. All in all its’ a great package and manages to still blow out some serious rock 20 years later.