Flash Metal Suicide: Leather Angel

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“We came to rock you like nobody will” - We Came to Kill

Leather Angel were supposed to be the “female Motley Crue”. That was the idea. That’s a great idea, actually. But what was Motley Crue, really? Were they a band? Like, a musical outfit? Not really. The first two records are pearl, but it’s just Sex Pistols meets Sweet in a garage, and the rest of their career was generic arena metal. I apologise up front if you’re a hardcore Girls Girls Girls fan, but let’s put our cards on the table, for chrissakes. Motley Crue was really about bad behavior. Motley Crue is what would’ve happened if you gave any random gang of fourteen year olds unlimited access to money, women, booze, and drugs.

You can pretty much sum up their career with a line I read from Nikki Sixx in some magazine – Hit Parader, Circus, one of those – around the Shout era: “I fucked a chick in a coffin last night. It was cool.” That’s what everybody was really into, the unbridled suburban decadence of it all. That’s the Motley legacy. That’s why they rarely, if ever, mentioned the music in their autobiography, The Dirt. And that’s definitely why Vince Neil still doesn’t know the words to his own songs.

So it would take more than leather bustiers and professional grade mascara to make a female Motley Crue. Personally, I would love to see four women that dangerously reckless take on the male-dominated world of heavy metal. I mean, holy smokes, what a sight that would be. Leather Angel, unfortunately, figured the looks and the riffs were enough. Not in the early 80’s, man. Dudes were biting the heads off of bats and lighting their legs on fire. Still, it was a noble effort.

In the beginning, there was Obsession. Obsession kick-started to life in 1981 in Los Angeles. Four chicks with ratted-out hair, skin-tight leather pants, mascara, and enough spikes n’ chains to make Betsy Bitch look like a school girl. The original line-up consisted of Terry O’Leary (vocals), Cathy Amanti (Bass), Debbie Wolf (guitar), and Krissi North (drums), and by all accounts the Obsession era sound was raw and lethal mix of razor-saw metal and a punky punch. Kinda like early Motley Crue.

They built a solid and loyal local following in LA and Southern California, partly because they were chicks that could actually play rock n’ roll, and partly because they were chicks who looked good in leather. Either way was ok with them, and they took to calling themselves “The Queens of Leather Rock”. And everything was all right. Until a year of so later, when the lawyers showed up to point out that there was already a speed metal band in Connecticut with that name. The band dropped Obsession, and took to calling themselves Leather Angel, a much more descriptive and fitting moniker. Who wouldn’t want to check out a band called Leather Angel, right? Right. Crue bassist Nikki Sixx, a fan/friend of the band, contributed a laughably primitive Leather Angel logo, complete with an obscure, semi-occult symbol, (he was obviously saving the pentagram for his own band), and the band rocked on.

In 1983, Leather Angel released their debut-and-only record, We Came to Kill. Smartly, it features the girls on the cover in their best biker-chick gear. If you look long enough, you will notice just how much they look like Motley Crue, right down to the 3 brunettes and one blonde hair color scheme, the handcuffs-as-belts, and the kinda scary, Frankenstein-y guitar player, but such a doorway only leads to madness.

Musically, well, they sounded like Motley as well, only with a darker, more dramatic edge. The songs on We Came to Kill are mid-tempo and crunchy, but only the title track, fueled by North’s pounding war drums, offering much in the way of heavy metal menace. We Came has the best riff, too, a snarly, mangy dog’s bark that neatly offsets O’Leary’s pseudo-operatic vocals.

However, the thin production (by their soon-to-be-fired manager, Keith Dyson) hampers the heavy-devy aspects of all the songs, and leaves tracks like Heartbreaker and Under Your Spell in a wavering no-man’s land between Sunset Strip metal swagger and bloozy bar rock, without taking root in either camp. It ends with a hilariously woeful cover of Whole Lotta Love. Of course, Leather Angel never thought this would be there last-ever record, so what the hell, why not massacre Zep? There would be many, many chances to atone for such a rock n’ roll sin, right? Nope.

We Came to Kill did decent business as 1983 rolled on, but in a year when major labels had set up camp in Los Angeles and were signing every group of long-haired, Flying Vee abusing jackasses on the Strip, Leather Angel had failed to snag the Big Deal, which is, frankly, ridiculous. They wore black leather halter tops, man. They were at least as good as Rock Goddesss, and if a ridiculous trainwreck like Odin could score a deal in Hollywood, why not Leather Angel? I don’t get it.

They fired their manager and drummer and regrouped, working on new material with famed metal producer Michael Wagner (Scorps, Accept, etc.), but suffered another blow when Debbie Wolf quit the band, leaving only two remaining members. The last Angels standing decided to change the band’s name once again, to the regrettable “Jaded Lady”, a rather desperate name that pretty much shrieks “doomed from the get-go”. And it was. The end.

Leather Angel had one of the best handles in all of rock n’ roll, but ultimately, they failed to live up to to all the Motley-esque sleaze and sin and stink that the name suggested. Still though, the female Crue? Still a great idea. Let’s get that going. Somebody send some Warlock bass guitars to the LA women’s prison.

**Next: the elegant decadence of Waysted **