The Steel Horse Archives: Steelheart, “I’ll Never Let You Go (Angel Eyes)” (1990)

Written by Music, The Steel Horse Archives

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Title: I’ll Never Let You Go
Album: Steelheart
Released: May 10, 1990

Why You Remember Them: Previous installments of this award-winning series have included bands with numerous hits, if not multiple albums, to their names, but we bring that streak to a screeching, flaming halt with Steelheart, whose sole contribution to the poufy-hair zeitgeist is “I’ll Never Let You Go,” a song whose fierce, animalistic coda explodes with such visceral fury that it is entirely likely that lead singer Michael Matijevic, a man with a consonant-y name so clunky and Eastern European-sounding that I’m sure we’re related, exploded his carotid artery straining for the last note and is still lying in a pool of blood and Aqua Net in a studio somewhere. It is quite simply impossible to achieve that level of valkyrie screaming without attaching a car battery to your face.

But Suck on This Little Bit of Kevin Bacon Game Madness: Matijevic in 2001 provided the voice for the Mark Wahlberg character in Rock Star, itself modeled on the story of a Judas Priest cover band singer-turned-actual-Judas-Priest frontman. The film featured a version of “We All Die Young,” which originally appeared on Steelheart’s third (!) album, Wait. So, good for Matijevic.

Boy, I’m Getting Sleepy Reading All These Words: Good, because as of Aug. 17, STEELHEART COFFEE IS HERE. Matijevic’s new line of gourmet coffees is available now throughout southern California. Grab a cup now and you’ll be saying, “I’ll never let this rich flavorful aroma go!”

Chart Position: “I’ll Never Let You Go” hit No. 14 on the U.S. Hot 100 in 1991; the album Steelheart peaked at No. 40 on the album chart. The 1992 follow-up Tangled in Reins only made it to No. 144; 1996’s Wait didn’t chart.

The Lone Key Track: “I’ll Never Let You Go” is like a mutant monster ballad from a ’50s horror movie. It is a grotesque, seething animal, a near-parody that lapped itself to become a decent-size hit. And it is a Type A behemoth of epic proportions, like McGwire in ’98. You wouldn’t like it when it’s angry.

Best Part of Their Wikipedia Entry:
They are credited as being “one of the last glam metal bands,” which I have a problem with because it implies the definition of “last” that indicates a distant coolness, like The Last Starfighter or The Last Unicorn. In this context, they mean “last” like they’re the band that shows up at 4 a.m. after the bartenders are sort-of washing the sticky glasses and the house lights are on like, “Dudes, I think this is the place!”

Why Anyone Who Has Ever Played Hair Metal Needs to Move to Japan Yesterday: We learned last week that Mr. Big are basically regarded as the second coming of a God/Buddha sandwich over there, but that is small godly potaters after learning Steelheart’s debut record sold 33K on its first day ALONE in Japan, thanks to this track and “She’s Gone,” which, according to Wikipedia, “maintains its popularity in East Asian region until today. It has been played by most of the cover bands performing in nightclubs in the region almost every night.” Bands of the Rock Never Stops Tour: GO. NOW.

Most Improbable Song Title: “Rock N’ Roll (I Just Wanna).” When 900 years old you reach, look as good, you will not.

Pre-Nirvana Song Titles: “Gimme Gimme,” “Down N’ Dirty”

Post-Nirvana Song Titles:
“Twisted Future,” “Buried Unkind”

What the Future Holds: A new album, Good 2B Alive, is available for download now from Steelheart’s official website.  A preview EP entitled Just a Taste, including three new tracks and the quickly wearing-out-its-welcome “We All Die Young,” is also available.

Arbitarily Scored Ferocity of Devil-Horns Thrust: Eh, we can do a 5. Dude’s voice is ridiculous. And I mean, come on. Mark Wahlberg approved, so who are we to be jerks?

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