Warrant ‘Cherry Pie’

Released on September 11, 1990 (Columbia Records)

Review by Tyson Briden:
As I look back on the ’90s, I think the beginning of that decade was the beginning of the end for hair rock and the music that accompanied that persona. When Warrant released the first single for their upcoming release Cherry Pie in late summer of 1990, I was instantly captured. This was possibly the catchiest song I had heard in some time. Of course, the year before, Aerosmith released “Love In An Elevator” and from how the story goes from the mouth of the late Jani Lane, Columbia Records wanted something in the same vein for Warrant’s sophomore release. Apparently, the track “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”, a great song in itself but that lacked the same appeal as “Cherry Pie”, was slated to be the first single and the title of the album. The question I pose, is how well received would the album had been if the track “Cherry Pie” never existed? Well of course, we may never know the answer to that question.

In terms of albums released in the early ’90s, where does Warrant’s Cherry Pie stack up? Let’s put it this way, if a track like “Thin Disguise” ends up as the b-side to “Cherry Pie” and is not included on the release, to me, that is a very solid piece of work. As I dive into the material itself, it is hard to deny the fact that Jani Lane may be the most talented songwriter of the whole era. Take a song like “I Saw Red” for instance. I believe the first time I ever heard this track, I was almost pushed to tears. The emotion conveyed by Lane is undeniably eerie. It’s as if you can hear his sorrow and pain with each breath spoken and the way he builds up the vocal line. At first, you think it is a typical love song and then it takes a drastic turn for the worse with Lane walking in on his girlfriend with another man. Brilliant. Now, this is not the only heartfelt ballad on the album. It is hard to fathom that the band could top “I Saw Red”, but with that said, “Blind Faith” again captures and invokes such a mood that makes you want to cry like a baby. How does he do that?

“Mr. Rainmaker”, which to this day may very well be my favorite cut on the album, is a catchy song, but lyrically and emotionally, Lane is able to convey his point through his approach and vocal melody. “Mr. Rainmaker, don’t waste my time. I’ve found a girl that is permanent sunshine. She is the little queen of all dreams carry on and find someone else to rain on!” Even the opening verse, “It could have rained for 40 weeks dear, and I’d never know the difference. When your life is one long downpour. You’re not sure you’ll go the distance!” At such a young age who writes such epic stories? The use of how the vocal flows with such thought out beautiful words. It seems simplistic, but is it really?

If you thought that was pure brilliance, the story in the previously mentioned “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” surely takes the album to new heights. For all the brilliantly calculated cheesiness of “Cherry Pie”, “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” takes it to the next level. This is an epic story that allows the listener to realize that Jani Lane is not your run of the mill songwriter as the story is from the point of view of a young boy and his uncle watching the local sheriff and his deputy dumping a body down by the water’s edge. What really is captured here is through the vocal, Lane paints a picture from the perspective of the young boy and it is so believable.

Of course, not all topics on this album are serious. Take “Love In Stereo” for instance. From my perspective, “Love in Stereo” is about a ‘manage a trois’ and perfectly states that. Of course, this is the story of a small town boy from Luckenback, Texas who somehow gets himself in a situation with two ladies who have one thing on their minds. “Sure Feels Good To Me” is full of sexual innuendos and the suggestion is that after a hard week of work, it’s time to have some fun. And a hair rock album would not be the same without an adolescently geared song titled “You’re the Only Hell Your Mama Ever Raised.” Now the icing on the cake is Warrant’s choice of a cover song — Blackfoot’s amazing “Train Train”. If you didn’t know it, Warrant did such a fine job on this song that you would never imagine it wasn’t theirs!

Of course on Cherry Pie, there would be many guest appearances and songwriting partnerships with many other prominent hair rock figures. Poison’s C.C. Deville contributes the solo to the “Cherry Pie” track with Danger Danger’s Bruno Ravel and Steve West singing background vocals on the track as well. Kingdom Come’s Johnny B. Frank and Danny Stag would contribute on the writing of the track “Sure Feels Good To Me.” Jani Lane’s brother Eric Oswald would also make the album, playing the intro to “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.” In the era, all the bands seemed to route and help each other out. It was a time like no other and I firmly believe it will never happen again.

In closing, there are so many variables in terms of Cherry Pie that make it possibly one of the greatest hair rock albums of all time. Unfortunately, the times would change and this form of good time rock n roll would go by the wayside. When it came time for Warrant’s next release, the subject matter would really take a turn and the band would go a little heavier. With that in mind, that album may be the band’s best work, but that is a story for another time. Cherry Pie showcases so many aspects of what Warrant had to offer in 1990. This was a good looking L.A. band that could do no wrong. Years later, nothing they did would be right, but in 1990, they were the sweethearts of the era. It was as if the time and place fit into what the public wanted musically. Compound that with Jani Lane’s incredible talent for singing and songwriting, the intense guitar playing of well, Mike Slamer, who posed as Joey Allen and Erik Turner at the time, the terrific background harmonies of drummer Steven Sweet and of course Jerry Dixon’s swagger and bottom-end, it was if 1990 was geared for a band like Warrant. Hey, if you don’t own this album, it is time to get a slice of your Cherry Pie!!!

Review by Lance Lumley:
When reviewing their debut release for this site, I mentioned how excited I was to get the first Warrant cassette. Not only was I pumped up about the songs, which didn’t disappoint me (and I have praised every song on the album in my writings elsewhere), I loved the fact that lead singer Jani Lane was from nearby Akron, Ohio (about an hour from my hometown of Columbiana, Ohio). The second album from the band, Cherry Pie, gave the band more hits and cemented their place in the 1980s-1990s glam music scene. I remember listening to the cassette just as much as the first one, and when I got the CD, I was shocked that it had a ‘Parental Warning’ sticker on it, however looking back now, with its lyrical content, I could maybe see why it was placed on there, but at the time, I didn’t think anything of some of the lyrics.

Starting off with the title track, this is the song that had the double-edged sword attached to the band. Although I dug the fun, comical music video, I was not a fan of the overall song, even during its release. Although many at my high school loved the song, and was played constantly on the local radio stations and on MTV, I felt people were placing the band into a novelty act and missing the actual musicianship that the members of the band had. This first single of the album starts off with an ode to the title of the last album (and song) “Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinkin’ Rich,” before starting the chorus of “Cherry Pie.” Of course, all of us males wanted to know more about the model Bobbie Brown in the video , and the song ended up being one of their signature songs for the rest of their career. It made the band tons of money, and helped keep the success going, but us true fans of the band knew that this song wasn’t their best work. A fun song, yes, but Warrant had more great songs in their catalog, no matter how fun this song was to many that weren’t into the band except from the hits from the debut.

“Uncle Tom’s Cabin” proved the point right after the first single. A great guitar opening by Lane‘s brother, this song combined a mystery / crime theme to the lyrics on top of a hard edge rhythm. This is one of the songs where just reading the lyrics alone, without any music, one could see how underrated Jani was as a lyric writer. The video told a story, with the creepy swamp like feel to the production. Being a comic book reader,  I was just waiting for Marvel‘s “Swamp Thing ” to come out and attack that evil sheriff for dumping bodies into his residence. I also liked the addition of a banjo being played in the song by Beau Hill, which still lets the song rock out. The acoustic introduction adds a great feel to the tone of the song.  If one believes the rumors, this song was to be the major marketing of the album before the label made Lane write an rock anthem, which became “Cherry Pie.” If this is true, it proves how great the song is, where the major push was going to be on this song.

Besides “Cherry Pie”, Warrant had success with the power ballads, where “Heaven” rocketed the band to the female crowd on the last album. I loved the song, but one of the best Warrant ballads, for me, is “I Saw Red,” a song that has two basic parts in the lyrics; the verses where the narrator (we’ll assume it’s Lane) discusses how deep the love is for the girl until the chorus breaks in where he walks in on her with someone else. The piano shows a different style to the band’s past ballads “Heaven” and “Sometimes She Cries”) , and also added a maturity to the songwriting of Lane from the last release. He walks in to see the couple, and almost humorously states “I Don’t Think I’m Gonna Love You Anymore.” The bridge of the song (leading into the solo), until the end , where Lane‘s vocals goes up a notch, gives more emotion to the song, without it sounded like an angry hard rock song. This one of my favorite Warrant songs, period.

“Bed of Roses” starts off mellow  almost similar to Rod Stewart’s “Maggie May,” before kicking in to a early ’90s style of rock. Once again, Lane‘s storytelling about life at a small motel, where people are hanging on to their dreams shows his writing talent, taking a common theme from the bands of the ’80s and gives a fresh style. The backing vocals from the band is more relevant than on the previous songs. This is the first time I ever heard of the name Desiree (the girl in the song), which I thought was a different name than other names used in songs. I can picture this motel being on the outskirts of L.A. where models and musicians left their hometowns to chase their dreams, only to find out that everyone doesn’t make it big. The guitar playing and the drums add power to the song. I also love the fact that the song seems to end and then kicks back up again for more of the groove and some ad-libbing, repeating part of the opening lines. This is a song I constantly played on the album, even drumming along to it on my drum set. This track is another one of my favorite songs by the band.

“Sure Feels Good To Me” displays a harder, faster rhythm , compared to the mid tempo songs before it. This song is under three minutes, but spotlights the guitar work of Joey Allen and Erik Turner. Let me state that there are rumors that other guitarists worked on this album, adding solos and actually playing on some songs. I don’t mention them unless they are actually credited on the songs, so I’m assuming that the two played here. Regardless, this is a harder song than the ones on the album so far, and is full of power. Those that thought Warrant was just ballads and didn’t rock, this is where I’d point them to prove them wrong.

In similar fashion, “Love In Stereo” comes next. This song adds piano to it, which separates it from the last song. This is like a hard rock Jerry Lee Lewis song, with rock, and a boogie mix to it. There are few vocal parts with the added effects on it that enhances the song. This song keeps the more rocking style of the album kicking. This song could have been a single, but maybe with the references of being with two women may have put off stations at the time, but production wise, this is as good as anything else that was being played at the time.

Another ballad “Blind Faith,” which became the final single on the release, slows the mood down. I do not remember this song getting any play in my area. The video has similarities to a famous Poison ballad video when I watched it for research. Although personally I don’t think it’s as good as “I Saw Red,” it’s not a throwaway and has its bright spots. Drummer Steven Sweet is great throughout the album, mixing his skills on both fast and slower songs. He puts on a solid effort on this song, as well as bass player Jerry Dixon. Even though I put it a little below “I Saw Red,” I do not know why this song did not get more success. Was it over saturation of power ballads? I’m not sure, but this should get another listen. Lyrically, Lane is proving wrong that he was just a good looking front man.

Again, a mellower introduction starts “Song And Dance Man”, like some of the other songs on the album. I remember skipping this song when I had the cassette, and then the CD. I’m not a fan of the lyrics so much, compared to the other songs on the release, but listening to this song decades later, the musicianship is wonderful, with its different dynamics, building throughout, and some time changes. I have been liking this song since I started listening to this for the review. This is a hidden gem, being under three minutes, there is no filler or added stuff to it. “You’re The Only Hell Your Mama Ever Raised” has strong backing vocals, and a reference to The Exorcist‘s Linda Blair in the lyrics. This is another song I passed on when I first got the cassette as a teen. Some people still love the song (hey, reviews are personal opinions), but there’s not much for me to be excited about here. Not every song on an album was an A-side gem. It has a mid tempo beat to it, with Dixon‘s bass being heard more on the track. I think the verse to the chorus lacks a solid connection on this, but it is a song that has it’s fans.

“Mr. Rainmaker” is a song that Dixon‘s bass can be heard more than on some of the earlier tracks. It has a similar opening to the band’s “Down Boys” but is more up front, where the song off the first album came from the distance, before cranking into the song. If I was going to skip a song, this may be the one. The music is great, but the lyrics are just off to me with its structure. This is not a song I enjoy overall, besides the instruments. “Train Train” is the last song on the album, besides “Ode To Tipper Gore,” which just a bunch of swearing in response to the warning labels on records. “Train” is a cover of the Southern rock band Blackfoot. I am not a fan of Southern Rock, and never have been. I will say that Warrant do a nice job giving it a harder edge to the song. The harmonica skills of Juke Logan are featured on the song. Lane‘s vocals on the song is different than on the other songs on the release, with a lower range, which is interesting.

I was fortunate to see the band in concert in 2001 on the Poison tour. They put on a great set, and I still enjoy the work of the band today. Even though most fans remember the title song as a song that people either loved or hated, there are plenty to enjoy on this second release, which shows a maturity in the song writing of Lane, along with several deeper cuts that are overlooked when it comes to the band’s overall musical talents. Although I would skip two songs still today, don’t let the more well known song deter from seeing the overall picture of a solid sophomore release.

Review by Sam Burgh:
As a person who was born well after the heyday of ’80s metal, most bands from that era that I became a fan of were introduced through TV shows, movies, and other forms of media. I remember hearing Warrant’s “Cherry Pie” on Guitar Hero as a youngster, and at the time, I thought it was the heaviest thing I’ve heard. Keep in mind that I was only a kid who listened to my parents’ favorite oldies station that frequently played The Doors and Three Dog Night. Years later, I have come to appreciate Cherry Pie as an album. What stood out to me was Jani Lane’s unique voice that combined hard rock and blues, along with great riffs and songs that transferred acoustic and electric guitar riffs so naturally. Cherry Pie was Warrant’s second studio album and ended up being the group’s best selling release. The album had hits such as “I Saw Red”, “Blind Faith” and the hard rocking “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” and, of course, “Cherry Pie.”

The album begins with the title track, “Cherry Pie.” The iconic song is an obvious rocker. It has great riffs and a chorus you can’t help but sing along with. It is said that this wasn’t even going to be put on the album, but the label insisted on a “rock anthem.” So, in about 15 minutes, Jani Lane scribbled out the lyrics on a pizza box. To be honest, this doesn’t seem like the appropriate opening to this album. I think it would have been more appropriate to begin with “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” to ease us into Cherry Pie. The song is a simple song lyrically, mainly about a woman’s private parts. Interestingly, C.C. DeVille plays the solo instead of Joey Allen. Even though it’s not a very deep composition, there is no doubt that it’s a radio staple on classic rock stations.

“Uncle Tom’s Cabin” begins with a bluesy acoustic guitar intro played by Jani Lane’s brother, then builds into a nice rocker about a story of police involvement in a double murder. Personally, I think this is far and away the best song on the album. It is fantastic lyrically, the acoustic guitar is an awesome touch and the cadence of the vocals keep the song chugging along in an intense manner. You can say what you want about Warrant’s stance among other bands in their genre, but Lane showed his talent in songwriting in this composition. I would listen to this song above “Cherry Pie” any day.

The next track is “I Saw Red”, which starts out with a pleasant piano part accompanied with Lane’s vocals. “I Saw Red” is a song about his reaction after catching his girlfriend in bed with — drumroll please — Richie Sambora. This charted number at #10 on Billboard’s Hot 100 in 1991, and rightfully so. So far, this album is off to a strong start. “Bed of Roses” follows “I Saw Red”, and it is really just a song about wanting a girl next door to hear him telling her that she deserves everything. There’s nothing special about this song, but it is still pleasant to the ear. Not great, not terrible.  “Sure Feels Good to Me” is next up on Cherry Pie and it brings back that “chugging” blues rock sound. Lyrically, it’s a dirty song about just wanting to get some tonight, which is common content coming from Warrant songs. There is a ripping solo that really adds to the energy. “Love In Stereo” is a cleverly written song about having a threesome. When I listen to this track, the way Lane sings is almost reminiscent of Sammy Hagar, and the piano tapping is a very nice touch.

“Blind Faith”, another hit off the album, is the band’s fourth ballad. I have never been a big ballad fan, but this isn’t too bad. It’s what you would expect from a power ballad, a song about love and having faith in someone. I get why it was as successful as it was, but it never stood out much to me. After “Blind Faith” is “Song And Dance Man”, which starts slow but builds into booming chorus with very nice backing vocals. Again, nothing stands out too much here except the chorus, which is very easy to sing along to. The next track, which seems like a mouthful, is “You’re The Only Hell Your Mama Ever Raised.” It’s a song you would hear on a Poison record, but that’s not exactly a good thing. A good point is that it features a pretty heavy riff, so that can constitute as redemption.

“Mr. Rainmaker” is an awesome rocker, and I am a sucker for guitar squeals. It’s hard for me to figure out why this song didn’t experience more success. Up next is “Train, Train”, a Blackfoot cover. Now THIS is what I’m talking about. Some bands can pull off covers and some can’t, but Warrant slay this one. When you think of a glam metal band covering a southern rock staple, you may be hesitant, but you will not be disappointed in this one. From the opening “All a-f*cking board” from Jani Lane, we are off and running. Besides “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”, I will have to give my other favorite track to “Train, Train.” It’s just a solid tune. The 55 second “Ode To Tipper Gore” is basically just a collection of expletives belted out by Lane at live shows. Interesting to say the least, but it seems appropriate for a balls-to-the-wall band like Warrant to round out the album with.

Cherry Pie is overall an impressive album, which was released right before the time that grunge came along, which pretty much killed glam metal. Regardless of the genre’s approaching doom, this album was a strong representation of how good a “hair band” could be. Warrant definitely brought it, and even after Jani Lane’s death, the band is still touring with a different line-up and they bring it even today.

Track List:
01. Cherry Pie
02. Uncle Tom’s Cabin
03. I Saw Red
04. Bed of Roses
05. Sure Feels Good To Me
06. Love In Stereo
07. Blind Faith
08. Song And Dance Man
09. You’re The Only Hell Your Mama Ever Raised
10. Mr. Rainmaker
11. Train Train
12. Ode To Tipper Gore (Live)

Band Members:
Jani Lane – vocals, acoustic guitar
Joey Allen – guitar
Erik Turner – guitar
Jerry Dixon – bass
Steven Sweet – drums

Produced by Beau Hill

Band Websites:
Official Website

Reviewed by Tyson BridenLance Lumley and Sam Burgh for Sleaze Roxx, September 2020

Warrant‘s “Cherry Pie” video:

Warrant‘s “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” video:

Warrant‘s “I Saw Red” video: