Steel Panther: ‘On The Prowl’
ON THE PROWL
Released on February 24, 2023 (Steel Panther)
Review by Terry Martinson:
I LOVE STEEL PANTHER!
Ahem, I uhm, well, I, I mean I really really really really care about (them) Steel Panther…
For those un-inclined to the wealth of brilliance and information out on the ole’ interwebs with regards to the hard rockin’, glam metal band that is now Steel Panther, here is a little trip down memory lane. Steel Panther began a long long time ago, circa 2000, calling themselves Metal Shop and the band self-released Hole Patrol, a dandy of an album. They appeared as a fictitious band called Danger Kitty performing and releasing a nifty little single entitled “Love Rocket” for a Discover Card advert in the theme of a then quite popular VH1 standard “Where are they now” skit. The band members then changed their name to Metal Skool, re-releasing their debut and dropping the epic “Metal Shop” title track for the cover of the Ian Hunter anthem “Cleveland Rocks”.
Fast forward a couple years and literally a million live performances, the guys have been THE band to see and be seen with in La La Land. Their live performances are epic and the band members are so ridiculously talented. They can literally play any ’80s song you can name and do, so dare I say, better than the song’s creators. The band members turned the page, re-invented themselves with another name to change to Steel Panther, dropped their “debut” long play Feel The Steel and then took over the known free world. Steel Panther went on to release five more long plays and now an appropriately titled record number six On The Prowl, which does not deviate from the standard that is Steel Panther. It is absolutely noteworthy and very important to say that no matter what the band members call themselves, Steel Panther have held true to their very limited morals and have released — hands down, bar none, beyond a shadow of a doubt the most filthy, filter free, non-PC, make a sailor blush — music, videos, etc, the world will ever know. I, for one, am as giddy as a school girl for that and I can’t snatch (he he) it all up lickity split, like the eternal 15 year old that I am.
The band members have consisted of the same four beautiful minds — singer Michael Starr, guitarist Satchel, drummer Stix Zadinia and bassist Lexxi Foxxx — the latter who was recently replaced by newest member / bassist Spyder whose debut is impressively on the On The Prowl release. It is certainly noteworthy that these fellas are musicians that ooze talent. Also, they have been studio caliper musicians for decades, not always using their current Steel Panther monikers (but that is a rabbit hole for you the reader to go burrowing into). And I’m not gonna lie as I invoke and paraphrase (on the 32 years of his passing) the late great “Godfather of Rock n Roll” Bill Gazzarri in saying, “They are sexy sexy guys’ ‘.
On The Prowl starts off with an absolute pair of barn burning hard rock numbers in “Never Too Late (To Get Pussy Tonight)” and “Friends With Benefits” which shouldn’t be too difficult to decipher the hidden messages within… “Never Too Late” is a near perfect album opener that will have you air guitaring, head bobbing and being floored by the number of differing terms of endearment the boys in Steel Panther have included herein when referring to that vertical smile Blackfoot sang about all those years ago. “Friends With Benefits” is a Dokken hard rock banger that is so dastardly amazing it should be criminal (and the video, oh dear). “On Your Instagram'” details the woes of online dating and how some may not be as they seem in the filtered world of social media. Catfish just isn’t the best fish on a po’boy.
“Put My Money Where Your Mouth Is” keeps on keeping on with the hard rock tongue in cheek humorous sexual innuendo detailing all the uses of Mr. Starr’s companions, his “money” and what said companions can do with it. “1987” is an arena rockin’ anthem for Gen X’ers and is as close to playing it straight as Steel Panther have ventured. This song should take you back to that time when (and still is in our minds) greatness abounded. The line “1987, I never want to leave you. When you told me I was in my prime, why didn’t I believe you” hits hard. “1987” is a damn good song. ‘Teleporter’ is another up tempo rocker that details all those not so memorable moments where one gets caught with their hand in the cookie jar and the ode is asking for a rapid fire way out of the situation.
“Is My Dick Enough” shouldn’t necessitate a Davinci Code to decipher the intent. It is another hard rocking anthem with an opening very akin to the epic Van Halen number “Jamie’s Cryin’”, which makes the utmost of sense considering some members’ origins and since this song includes the guitarist extraordinaire, the maestro and the aficionado of the frets — Mr. Dweezil Zappa. The song includes arguably one of my favorite lines on the album, “You tell me I’m the only one on planet earth. But I’ve seen baby carrots with a lot more circumference”. I know right, caught you sleeping didn’t it. “Magical Vagina” begins rather quietly with some keys and an almost modern trilling vibe, BUT lyrical content that pays the utmost homage throughout to the place we spent nine months exiting and our entire life trying to get right back in. “All That And More” is another hard rocker with a tasty little sleaze overlay that details the author’s Richard and how truly enlightening and amazing, or “All That And More”, it is. The ending is certainly noteworthy.
Although “One Pump Chump” is a little cryptic, you should be able to decipher the intent, but in case you are a little lost, here is a snippet from the chorus, “I’m a one pump chump”. “Pornstar” is a lovely cigarette lighter love song where the band details their love of their damaged gal pal and how they see her as the “Pornstar” she could have been, maybe not in the most flattering of terms one doesn’t have to assume. Another line of lines showcasing Steel Panther‘s obsolete lack of wokeness is herein and is as follows, “If Harvey Weinstein was still free, he wouldn’t care if you resisted. If the Pope could watch you pray, I’m pretty sure that he would jack. I’ve done that while you sleep at night and dropped a load right on your baaaaack!”… I don’t care who you are, that’s funny right there.
“Ain’t Dead Yet” is number two in my current favorites from On The Prowl. It is a low key, acoustic guitar and vocal driven ballad of sorts detailing the long hard life of the rock star, his escapades and his current still worthwhile status even though he is getting long in the tooth. Like “1987”, this one although ridiculously humorous and well written, tugs on the ole heartstrings, if we had a heart that is. “Sleeping On The Rollaway” closes the album with a hard rockin’ tale of straying and how one’s actions will get you banished to “Sleeping On The Rollaway”. Just remember, “Eatin’ Ain’t Cheatin’”.
There should be no disputing — stop your internal dialogue, you’re wrong, get over it — that Steel Panther and everything they create is pure gold. The band is talent personified. Every note, lyric, key change, fill, trill and reference is more powerful than you can ever imagine. I tried (and failed) throughout my review not to detail or give away too many of the countless easter eggs and amazingly humorous lyrical content that is prevalent throughout On The Prowl. You will and should buy it, and spin it a zillion times over and over on an endless repeat while gathering your wits about you, recognizing the sheer magnitude of the genius that is Steel Panther. You should also recognize how they take what seems to be a schlocky ,“no brained”, vulgar, uninspired hair metal aesthetic and absolutely laid waste to the listeners’ preconceived mindset, inhibitions and moral fiber. On The Prowl is that good and shouldn’t be trifled with or denied its place in your frontal cortex with every spin of this delicious silver platter providing another and another and another, ad nauseam, aural discoveries you’ve never experienced.
As the album’s hype sticker details perfectly and prophetically, it is “13 Bitchin’ new songs guaranteed* to get you laid, supercharge your party & make you laugh. *totally not guaranteed, but it might help!”
Review by Olivier:
Funny enough, I was just about to start writing my review of Steel Panther‘s latest album On The Prowl when I noticed that my Sleaze Roxx colleague Terry Martinson beat me to the punch! “Fuck it” I thought. “I’m going to write a review in any case!” Why you may ask? Just like Terry, I love Steel Panther! They are undoubtedly one of the best — if not the best — band to emanate from the last quarter century. It is pretty incredible to think that Steel Panther have been around for almost 25 years but if you include their previous incarnations as outlined above, these guys have been creating their undeniable legacy for a long time!
I had a feeling that Steel Panther would rebound nicely with On The Prowl after their rather disappointing last record Heavy Metal Rules (2019). Sure, Heavy Metal Rules had some good and fun songs on it such as “All I Wanna Do Is Fuck (Everybody Tonight)” and “Fuck Everybody” but also quite a bit of filler including the title track, “Always Gonna Be A Ho” and “Gods of Pussy.” But enough about the lacklustre Heavy Metal Rules, it’s time to delve into On The Prowl.
The sticker on my purchased CD summed up quite nicely what I was expecting and hoping for: “13 Bitchin’ New Songs guaranteed* to get you laid, supercharge your party & make you laugh” with the fine print clarifying “*totally not guaranteed, but it might help!”. That’s exactly what I want from Steel Panther — a fun album that will rock and put me in a great mood. It’s always very odd to me when certain people suggest that Steel Panther should put out a “serious” album, which I interpret meaning one without the silly over the top lyrics. Ummm, no! There’s a reason why Steel Panther have lasted so long in the first place, released six full-length studio albums in 15 years and probably played more shows than any other group at their level. There’s a reason why there are so many bands such as John Diva & The Rockets of Love, Pussies On The Dancefloor, Turbosnake and Turbo Shokk blatantly copying the Steel Panther “formula” but falling quite short thus far. Let’s put it this way, when you are the leader in whatever that you are doing, why would you change, conform, join the pack and become like everybody else? It makes zero sense. So to Steel Panther, don’t change, keep leading the pack, and keep doing what you are doing, which is entertain and make people laugh while coming up with some of the best songs of the last two decades.
On The Prowl starts with a synthesizer intro that would be quite worrisome to me (i.e., Reckless Love) if I had not heard some of the lead up singles — “Never Too Late (To Get Some Pussy Tonight)”, “1987” and “Friends With Benefits” — prior to the album’s release. In any case, the synthesizer intro doesn’t last long (about 10 to 15 seconds) before Steel Panther launch into one of their best songs since “Gloryhole” (from 2014’s All You Can Eat) made its way into their setlist. Putting aside the ridiculously long song title, “Never Too Late (To Get Some Pussy Tonight)” rocks from start to finish and should be a live staple for years to come. “Friends With Benefits” is next with a cool guilt riff upon which the track tends to be focused on. The verses could have used a little bit more work but there is no denying that the chorus section is easy (and enticing) to sing along to and Satchel‘s guitar solo is a definite highlight.
The lyrics for the songs on On The Prowl are — as to be expected — super witty and hit home quite nicely such as on “1987” where Michael Starr sings, “Appetite For Destruction blown us all away / Poison looking so damn good, I wondered if I was gay” which is simply brilliant. Alright, the first line about the Guns N’ Roses‘ debut full-length album isn’t that great but I do remember how blown away I was when I first heard “Welcome To The Jungle” and Steel Panther‘s track “1987” conjured those memories up. And what about Poison‘s cover for Look What The Cat Dragged In? Had you ever seen such pretty looking boys when that record first came out? How many people thought the Poison band members were actually girls when they first saw that cover? The witty lyrics just don’t stop on “1987” with ones such as “I couldn’t understand that Loudness dude but man, he could scream” and “There never was a doubt in any of our minds that pretty soon Dave [Lee Roth] and Eddie [Van Halen] are getting back together.”
What became readily apparent early on while I was listening to On The Prowl is that the songs are quite catchy, the guitar solos have a real ’80s vibe — especially the solo for “Put My Money Where Your Mouth Is” which sounds a lot like a solo that Steve Vai might have come up with on Skyscraper — and I would be singing along to any track within one or two listens. At the end of the day, isn’t that the hallmark of a great album? That is exactly what I have concluded. On The Prowl is a real return to form for Steel Panther. I will admit that when I first listened to the album, I was a tad concerned about the amount of slower tracks such as “On Your Instagram”, “1987”, “Magical Vagina”, “Pornstar” and “Ain’t Dead Yet” but when you think about it, Balls Out had a bunch of slower tracks on it such as “If You Really Really Love Me” and “Weenie Ride”, and those have turned out to be Steel Panther classics even though I wasn’t too fond of them at first.
Overall, Steel Panther have put out an album with On The Prowl that I think can hold up quite nicely to their first two brilliant albums Feel The Steel (2009) and Balls Out (2011) and that is head and shoulders above their last one Heavy Metal Rules (2019). I think the only real issue on whether On The Prowl gets the recognition that it deserves is that Steel Panther — just like any ’80s legacy act — now have to contend with their fans’ emotional attachment to their older tracks. When you’ve heard a song such as “Community Property” 10 to 15 times in a live setting (I lose count of how many times that I have seen Steel Panther play live) plus countless times on the album Feel The Steel and various live YouTube videos, that song likely achieves a certain magnitude in the mind of many of the group’s fans that is tough to beat with a new song. That being said, I am confident that if people give On The Prowl a real chance, it will eventually be looked upon as one of the best albums that Steel Panther have ever come up with.
01. Never Too Late (To Get Some Pussy Tonight)
02. Friends With Benefits
03. On Your Instagram
04. Put My Money Where Your Mouth Is
07. Is My Dick Enough (feat. Dweezil Zappa)
08. Magical Vagina
09. All That And More
10. One Pump Chump
12. Ain’t Dead Yet
13. Sleeping On The Rollaway
Michael Starr – lead vocals
Satchel – guitars
Stix Zadinia – drums
Spyder – bass
Produced by Steel Panther
Reviewed by Terry Martinson and Olivier for Sleaze Roxx, March 2023
Steel Panther‘s “1987” video:
Steel Panther‘s “Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is” visualizer video:
Steel Panther‘s “One Pump Chump” visualizer video: