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Rough Cutt - Reissues album review

The nearly men of hair metal – a familiar story.

Rough Cutt album cover

Paul Shortino, the singer in Rough Cutt, certainly looked the part in his brief cameo as rock superstar Duke Fame in This Is Spinal Tap, en route to his enormodome show and blanking Tap to wait in the lobby for the limo. In real life, however, he never made it big.

Rough Cutt were based in LA when the city’s metal scene was peaking in the early 80s. Mentored by Ronnie James Dio, managed by his wife Wendy and signed to Warner Brothers, they also played in various enormodomes as Dio’s opening act. But after two albums stiffed, Shortino split to join Quiet Riot.

In those two albums, now reissued by Rock Candy, the band’s strengths and limitations are clear. 1984 debut Rough Cutt (610) is a straight-up LA metal album in the style of Dokken, with Shortino a great, ballsy singer, and it boasts one outstanding song in the heavy ballad Dreamin’ Again. The remainder, though, is generic.

Ditto their 1986 follow-up Rough Cutt Wants You! (510). Even a singer of Shortino’s calibre couldn’t lift songs as routine as their titles: Rock The USA, We Like It Loud, Hot ’N’ Heavy. In a final irony, there was a limo on the album’s cover.

Freelance writer for Classic Rock since 2005, Paul Elliott has worked for leading music titles since 1985, including Sounds, Kerrang!, MOJO and Q. He is the author of several books including the first biography of Guns N’ Roses and the autobiography of bodyguard-to-the-stars Danny Francis. He has written liner notes for classic album reissues by artists such as Def Leppard, Thin Lizzy and Kiss, and currently works as content editor for Total Guitar. He lives in Bath - of which David Coverdale recently said: “How very Roman of you!”