For the past month, two of the top five tracks pissing their night away on Billboard‘s Main stream Rock chart have been celebrations of alcohol consumption, both sung by clods who usually sound too bloated and full-of-themselves to mix concoctions so intoxicating.
“Whiskey in the Jar” is an ancient Irish ballad revived by Celtic soul brothers Thin Lizzy in the ’70s; in Metallica’s atypically air-conditioned revision, weak link James Hetfield for goes vocal vomit for a change as courtly-sad guitars keep the old lute and pennywhistle parts reel, soaring and curlicuing through grayness like arrows at a Renaissance festival. The lead lush traverses a mountain range, robs and kills an army officer with both barrels, then takes the money home to Molly (Metallica never mention girls in their songs!), who apparently double-crosses him, so he winds up in prison toting a real ball and chain. But he’s got bootleg booze (in a “Jarreau,” he says!?) to keep him warm, and he still gets to indulge in his other hobby as well: “Some men like to hear the cannonball roarin’/Me, I like sleepin’.”
The next round’s on hammy Sammy Hagar, who’s wide awake. “Mas Tequila” is a macho faux-Mex toga-party collage like AOR FM hasn’t stirred up since Ted Nugent’s “Wango Tango” in 1980. First 40 seconds, we flash on “Rock and Roll Part 2″(hockey-bleacher tribal beat), “La Grange” (char broiled blues riff), “Dirty Water” by the Standells, “Boom Boom (Out Go the Lights)” by Pat Travers. Then we’re shagging shoeless in Hawaiian shirts at an oyster roast. His biracial Waboritas band throwing an audibly blitzed beach bash in the background, Tony Award nominee Sam counts off shots, name-drops “Funky Cold Medina” and (duh) “Tequila,” squeals about his “lemon slice,” rolls jiggers of rrr’s into his “margarita.” Some people claim Van Halen’s to blame, but he knows it’s his own damn fault.