CRUELLA D’VILLE – Showdown In Tinsel Town [Suncity Records]

CRUELLA D'VILLE - Showdown In Tinsel Town [Suncity Records] - full

Despite the common elements, CRUELLA D’VILLE were not just another L.A. style late 80’s, early 90’s band that were left behind in Kurt’s grunge shuffle. These guys had it all – the looks, the talent, the killer hooks; basically these guys had the X factor. Cruella’s sound was classic melodic hard rock with a tinge of Sunset Strip sleazy for good measure. Cruella have a sound combining all the best L.A. 1987 flavor but ultimately have a sound of their own. We usually like to give the fans a couple of comparisons to other bands but this one is tough. Perhaps a cross between Shotgun Messiah and Skid Row.
The album “Showdown In Tinsel Town” takes recordings from 1986 only appeared on cassette, fully re-mastered. These first 4 tracks were produced by Keith Collins of Savatage. The other songs were pre-produced in 1990 for CRUELLA D’VILLE’s debut LP with Big Time Records, but unfortunately there was a falling out with the record company and the album never got released.

The band started under the name Valentine, formed in 1986 in Tampa, Florida, with Rick Bales on Vocals and Guitar, Jon Bales on Guitar,Rick Howard on Drums and Marc Togie on Keyboards. Frankie Baker joined soon after on Bass. Rick & Jon Bales and Togie had previously been members of Next Exit, and Rick Howard last band was called Cruella D’ville.
Valentine played their first big show at the Florida Fairgrounds in 1986, to a few thousand people, after an appearance on V32 television, Tampa Bays local version of MTV. The band played the local rock clubs from 1986 to 1988… The Stadium Lounge, Squires, The Sunset, The Yankee Rose, the London Victory Club and many other local venues.

In 1987 Valentine met up with Keith Kollins, the bass player from Savatage. Kollins produced a 4-song EP at American Music Works Studios in St Petersburg Florida. The EP featured “Room without a View”, “Lace and Leather”, “Lover’s Hell”, and “Your Eyes”.
At the time of the recording, a signed band called Valentine was recording and touring. Due to this, the guys changed their name to Rick Howard’s former band name, Cruella D’ville, to avoid confusion with the other Valentine. The EP was completed in 1988.

The EP got some airplay on 98ROCK, and the band continued to play the local clubs, doing covers and original concerts. Things were going well in Tampa, so the band decided to move to LA to be a part of the huge metal scene that was exploding there in the late 80s.
Rick and Jon Bales moved to LA in August of 1989 and attended the Guitar Institue of Technology (GIT). Howard moved out shortly afterward, and Baker left the band.

Juan Croucier, the bass player from Ratt, heard the Cruella EP and expressed interest in producing new songs. Finding the right bass player was not easy and before the replacement for Baker was found, Croucier moved on to produce another project.
Ray Caron joined the band in 1990 after many bass player auditions. Cruella started gigging in LA at the Troubadour, the Whisky, Gazzarri’s, FM Station and many other venues. The band got a weekly gig at the Troubadour playing every Wednessday night for over a year in 1990 at the Jon E Jam.
Cruella was featured in all the local magazines, such as Rock City News and Screamer.

In 1990, Cruella added a couple of female backup singers who stayed with them for about a year. However, that same year in 1990 also saw the departure of Jon Bales. Over 100 guitarist auditioned for the chance to replace Bales, but in the end it was Bruce Hunt from St. Louis who got the spot.

Cruella D’ville became a big draw on the ‘Strip’ packing the Whisky and Gazarris. A distribution deal was signed with Big Time Records to distribute the EP through magazine orders, while the band sold tapes at the shows, and local record stores.
The band was approached by a record company and signed a deal to record an album. They continued to gig and write songs for the album, and collaborated with songwriter Steven Rosen. When all the pre-production was complete they recorded 11 songs for the album. But Big Time Records broke and the album never got released.
Caron left the band in 1993 and was replaced on bass by Jon Bales who returned to the band. Cruella D’ville gigged for a few more months after that and then disbanded.

“Showdown In Tinsel Town” cool slice of US melodic hard from the late ’80s. Some tracks were released in the recent FnA Records compilation, but others are exclusive to this CD, hard to find now.
Highly Recommended


01 – Room Without A View
02 – Lace And Leather
03 – Lover’s Hell
04 – Your Eyes
05 – Engines Burning
06 – Can’t Go On This Way
07 – Stealin’
08 – Change
09 – Can’t Take it
10 – I Want You Back Again
11 – The Storm

Rick Bales – lead vocals, guitars
John Bales – guitar
Bruce Hunt – guitar
Frankie Baker – bass
Ray Caron – bass
Mark Togie – keyboards
Rick Howard – drums


Out of Print

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