Our top 10 XYZ songs list looks at the body of work of a hook-laden American band renowned for its hard rock/glam-pop since the late ‘80s. The band originated in the ‘80s by vocalist Terry Ilous, guitarist Uncle RV, and drummer JP Villet. Terry Ilous would later join the trio as a vocalist in 1982. Pat and Terry grew up in Lyon, France, before relocating to Los Angeles, where they established their professional music career.
During XYZ’s formative years, the band was the talk of the Los Angeles town, regarded as the house band of The Whisky a Go-Go, a Los Angeles nightclub. The nightclub is impactful in the music scene having notable musicians recording live albums there. Some of the artists who have recorded live albums at the nightclub include Metallica, The Flying Burrito Brothers, Van Halen, AC/DC, The Doors, and Linkin Park.
After Uncle RV and JP Villet left the band, Terry and Pat were joined by drummer Joey Pafumi and guitarist Bobby Pieper. While the band has seen its lineup change over time, Pat and Terry remain the only permanent members of XYZ’s lineup.
Since its inception, XYZ has sold over two million records across the world. In the early ‘90s, the band’s songs received some airplay featuring on MTV regularly. However, this band should not be confused with the progressive rock/hard rock 1981 English ensemble that went by the same name. The English-based XYZ was a supergroup formed by former Yes member Chris Squire and former Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page.
Chris and Jimmy were later joined by drummer Alan White (Yes drummer) and vocalist/keyboardist Dave Lawson (former member of the progressive rock band Greenslade). Before digging deeper into the top 10 XYZ songs, let’s have a look at the brief history and album releases of this reputable heavy metal/hard rock ensemble.
XYZ’s Career Beginnings and Breakthrough
After a long duration of its formative years, XYZ was ready to make it big in the mainstream by issuing its debut album in 1989. However, this would only come after the band changed its lineup and got signed to a record label. The band recruited guitarist Marc Diglio and drummer Paul Monroe in 1989 to replace the past member’s guitarist Bobby Pieper and drummer Joey Pafumi.
In the same year, the band signed a recording deal with the American record label Enigma Records. Enigma Records has once been home to other reputable acts/artists, including Celtic Frost, Mötley Crüe, Motörhead, Stryper, Bill Nelson, Poison, Slayer, and Red Hot Chilli Peppers. The band later issued its eponymous debut LP in October 1989 through Enigma Records.
XYZ catapulted the band to mainstream success after it appeared on the Billboard 200. The album peaked at the ninety-ninth spot on the Billboard 200 chart. “Inside Out” and “What Keeps Me Loving You” are some of the best XYZ songs from the band’s eponymous debut album. The two songs received quite some airplay on MTV for two years. XYZ’s success was partly influenced by the production work by Don Dokken, founder of the glam metal band Dokken.
XYZ’s Album Releases over the Years
The success of the band’s debut album prompted XYZ to issue a second studio album. XYZ returned to the studio to record its sophomore LP, Hungry. Hungry saw the band release an amalgam of hard rock and heavy metal sonic vibes. The band had invested in some heavy metal sounds in this album compared to XYZ, which purely saw the vibe deliver hard rock sounds exclusively.
Hungry was also issued through Capitol Records, following a fallout between XYZ and Enigma Records. The LP was produced by George Turko and Neil Kernon. Neil Kernon is a Grammy Award-winning and multi-platinum record producer who is best known for his successful work with Yes, Judas Priest, Kayak, Hall & Oates, Scorpions, Queensryche, Dokken, and Helix.
“Whiskey on a Heartache,” “Feels Good,” and “When the Night Comes Down” are some of the best XYZ songs from the band’s sophomore LP. Hungry also featured the hit “Face Down in the Gutter,” which received some airplay on MTV’s Headbangers Ball before its video was critiqued for showing erotically-dressed women.
Drummer Joey Pafumi and guitarist Marc Diglio left XYZ some months after the release of Hungry, prompting Pat and Terry to recruit guitarist Tony Burnett and drummer Joey Shapiro. However, the band disbanded some while after. XYZ would later come back with a third studio album, Letter to God, in 2003.
Letter to God was issued through Fyco Records. Some of the best XYZ songs include “Deny,” “Letter to God,” and “Rainy Day.” XYZ has released three compilation albums since the release of Letter to God. The compilation albums include Rainy Days (demos) and Forbidden Demos in 2005, and Best of XYZ in 2008.
Despite not amassing much fame over its musical career, XYZ remains a reputable hard rock and heavy metal ensemble. The band’s eponymous debut album was among the best hard rock releases in 1989. XYZ was about to enjoy greater success with the release of the hard rock/heavy metal album Hungry, issued in 1991. However, the massive popularity of glam metal music genres made this impossible.
XYZ’s hard rock/heavy metal sophomore album was at the time competing hard with music from Pearl Jam and Nirvana. This eventually forced the band out of the music scene, but the band was back in 2002 officially. To date, XYZ continues its influence in the hard rock and heavy metal scene. The band’s current lineup consists of Pat Fontaine, Terry Ilous, Tony Marcus, and Joey Shapiro. Here we present the ten best XYZ songs sampled from the band’s three studio albums.
#10 – Face Down in the Gutter
Ushering us to the top 10 XYZ songs list is the raving hit “Face Down in the Gutter.” The song is featured on the band’s sophomore LP, Hungry. “Face Down in the Gutter” is a hard rocking ballad that brings the best of XYZ’s musicianship. The song features some of the best guitar licks from guitarist Marc Diglio.
“Face Down in the Gutter” is the only song from Hungry that had an accompanying music video. However, after getting some airplay on MTV, the song video evoked mixed reactions about how the women in the video were dressed.
#9 – When the Night Comes Down
Hungry is also home to the ninth pick of our ten best XYZ songs, “When the Night Comes Down.” “When the Night Comes Down” is among the most underrated hard rock/heavy metal song by the band. Terry Ilous was a little more invested in this song’s vocals having him give a splendid performance which makes him among the best uncelebrated heavy metal vocalist of the early ‘90s.
The song’s title is a contrast to the 2006 hit “When the Sun Goes Down” by The Arctic Monkeys from the LP, Whatever People Say That I Am, That’s What I’m Not. “When the Sun Goes Down” by Arctic Monkeys topped the UK Singles Chart.
#8 – Rainy Days
Our number eight spot on the ten best XYZ songs goes to the stunning hit “Rainy Days.” “Rainy Days” is among the brightest songs from XYZ’s third LP, Letter to God. The song was later featured on the band’s 2005 compilation album of the same name.
Once more, Terry Ilous showcases his vocal prowess and versatility, thanks to his heartbreakingly beautiful vocals. “Rainy Days” is among the most alluring hits by the band delivered in a slow tempo, unlike the band’s tendency to issue fast-paced and mid-tempo hard rock/heavy metal hits.
#7 – Maggy
“Maggy” is one of the musical gems from the band’s eponymous debut album. The four minutes, forty-second long track brings the best of the hard rock vibes from the band’s LP, XYZ. Listening to the song, you might wonder why XYZ didn’t achieve immense success with its debut album. However, the answer is quite simple!
XYZ was the band’s toddler steps into the mainstream compared to other records such as Pump by Aerosmith, Dr. Feelgood by Mötley Crüe, Appetite for Destruction by Guns N’ Roses, Gutter Ballet by Savatage, and Slip of the Tongue by Whitesnake. The listed albums, among other huge hard rock/heavy metal releases in the year, almost saw the band discounted. Nevertheless, XYZ’s performance proved too good to assume. XYZ went on to peak at number ninety-nine on the Billboard 200.
#6 – Feels Good
Number six on our top 10 XYZ songs list is the striking hit “Feels Good.” The song is one of the notable hits from the band’s sophomore LP, Hungry. Marc’s guitar skills are the major highlight making him part of the reason the band achieved quite some success in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. Mentioning a thing about Terry’s vocals might feel like a cliché, but it is something we cannot discount!
XYZ introduces us to another intoxicating performance from this hard rock/heavy metal band with the hit “Souvenirs.” “Souvenirs” is yet another slow tempo delivery by the band that helps the band express its heartfelt feelings about the great memories the singer made. The song finds the singer expressing his feelings about a lost lover citing how close he holds souvenirs left behind to remind him of his great past memories. “Souvenirs” is one of the most emotive songs released by the band.
#4- Whiskey On A Heartache
We all hate being taken advantage of in love, and XYZ is not an exception. In the song “Whiskey on a Heartache,” the singer expresses his feelings about being taken for a fool in a relationship. Unlike many people who might be overwhelmed by the situation falling into depression, the singer showcases a strong character in this hard time. He showcases that he’d better take shots of whiskey rather than shed tears. “Whiskey on a Heartache” is an anthemic track you’ll find in the band’s sophomore LP, Hungry.
#3- What Keeps Me Loving You
Our third spot on the ten best XYZ songs is the melodic rock ballad “What Keeps Me Loving You.” The song is yet another track from the band’s eponymous debut LP, which features other melodic and slow tempo performances. Once more, we get to taste some of the best guitar licks from Marc Diglio, who proves to be one of the best guitarists of all time in the hard rock/heavy metal scene.
As the song approaches the third minute, Marc delivers an awe-inspiring guitar solo that brings perfection to every note and phrasing. “What Keeps Me Loving You” has its love-driven lyrics adding some glamour to the song’s overall feel. The song got some airplay in 1989 and early ‘90s on MTV.
#2- When I Find Love
“When I Find Love” is one of the best XYZ songs that brings the shine to the band’s amalgam of hard rock and heavy metal sonic vibes. The song is featured on the band’s sophomore album, Hungry. “When I Find Love” is a true depiction of the potential of true musicianship. While most of the other best XYZ songs highlight the best of the band’s guitar and vocal potentials, “When I Find Love” has all the four members give their all in their respective duties. The band members add some glamour to the some with some alluring backing vocals.
#1- Inside Out
Number one on our top 10 XYZ songs list is the thrilling hit “Inside Out.” The song is among the musical gems released by the band in 1989 and issued through the LP XYZ. “Inside Out” is among the songs that pushed the band’s fame and success in 1989 after it got some airplay on MTV, alongside “What Keeps Me Loving You.” Once more, the band’s musicianship brings some reputation to its musical pursuits. The song is among the best songs produced by Don Dokken, the founder of the hair metal band Dokken.
Top 10 XYZ Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2022
Classicrockhistory.com claims ownership of all its original content and Intellectual property under United States Copyright laws and those of all other foreign countries. No one person, business, or organization is allowed to re-publish any of our original content anywhere on the web or in print without our permission. All photos used are either public domain creative commons photos or licensed officially from Shutterstock under license with ClassicRockHistory.com. All photo credits have been placed at end of the article.