CIRCUS OF POWER (1988–94). Alex Mitchell (vocals), Ryan Maher (drums), Rickey Beck Maler (guitar), Gary Sunshine (guitar), Zowie (bass).
New York City’s Circus of Power played a rough and ready brand of hard rock that emulated the streetwise gutter rock of Guns N’ Roses while tapping into a particularly New York sense of the street. While both Guns N’ Roses and Circus of Power marked a departure from the “pretty boy” images of the pop/hair metal of the late eighties, it might be argued that part of GNR’s appeal was that, under the veneer of dirt, they could clean up pretty well. Circus of Power offered no such illusions. And while they offered some satisfying heavy rock (“Motor,” “Mama Tequila”), they never had the instrumental chops or songwriting skills to compete on GNR’s level.
After playing the New York club scene in the late eighties, the band signed with RCA Records, releasing their self-titled debut in 1988. The album established the band’s heavy blues-based approach to sleazy rock and roll. Still Alive followed the same format in 1989. In 1990 the band released their third album, Vices, and brought new bassist Zowie into the band while Gary Sunshine moved to second
guitar. After Vices RCA dropped the band from their roster. Columbia, however, took a chance on the group, releasing their fourth album, Magic & Madness, in 1993. Magic & Madness failed to stir much excitement, however, in part due to the fact that the band’s brand of sleaze rock was quickly going out of fashion. After Columbia dropped the band they officially disbanded, although they have occasionally reunited for one-off shows.
Discography: Circus of Power (RCA, 1988); Still Alive (RCA, 1989); Vices (RCA, 1990); Magic & Madness (Columbia, 1993).