Tag Archive | Lita Ford

Gail's Top Ten Favorite CDs of 2012

Tame Impala Lonerism CD Cover

Tame Impala, Lonerism

People who’ve taken a lot of psychedelics (raises hand) and listened to way too much music while lounging in a room lit only by a black light bulb will often talk about how certain albums sound like they were made while the band was on drugs. Tame Impala’s sophomore album, Lonerism, is drugs.

Read my awesome review of Lonerism at This Link.

Darkness Hot Cakes CD Cover

The Darkness, Hot Cakes

Hot Cakes is my favorite Queen album since A Night at the Opera.

Read my amazing review of Hot Cakes at This Link.

Little Barrie King of the Waves CD Cover

Little Barrie, King of the Waves

Little Barrie’s King of the Waves was Number One on the list for most of the year until The Darkness nudged it from the top spot, only to be further nudged by Tame Impala. This only means it was a pretty fucking great year for Rock & Roll.

Read more of my opinion on how Little Barrie Saved Rock in 2012 at This Link.

Sheepdogs CD Cover

The SheepDogs

It is my belief that The SheepDogs operate in this realty via  adept use of a well-oiled Time Machine.  Read more about my hypothesis at This Link.

Matt Boroff's Filling In The Cracks CD Cover

Mott Boroff, Filling In The Cracks EP

My mind was blown away last year by the discovery of Matt Boroff, an artist who refers to himself as a “Gold Medalist in the Best Kept Secret Olympics.” Read more at This Link.

Killers Battle Born CD Cover

The Killers, Battle Born

I like This Album.

Bento Diamond Days CD Cover

Bento, Diamond Days

I was in the process of reviewing Diamond Days when I was unexpectedly evacuated from my apartment due to the storm surge of Hurricane Sandy. Drama! Bento is the solo project by Ben Gillies, former drummer for Silverchair. I interviewed Ben once and he was hilarious. If you enjoyed Siverchair’s artsy fartsy 2007 Swan Song, Young Modern, you will probably dig this album.

Vaccines Come of Age CD Cover

The Vaccines, Come of Age

The first time I played this CD each song managed to distinguish itself from the next, so it gets to be on this list.

Lita Ford Living Like a Runaway CD Cover

Lita Ford, Living like a Runaway

No pain, no gain. Guitarist and Rock Godess Lita Ford bounces back from a messy divorce to make the album of her career. My indepth review of Living Like a Runaway can be found at This Link.

Mike Viola Acousto de Perfecto CD Cover

Mike Viola, Acousto De Perfecto

If real musical talent – quality songwriting, musicianship, charisma – were still rewarded with popularity and financial success in the way they were back in the ‘70s, Mike Viola would be as revered as Elton John and sell out bigger concert tours than Lady Gaga.

Read more from me about Mike Viola and Acousto De Perfecto by clicking Here.

Recommended Listening: Lita Ford, Living Like a Runaway

Lita Ford Living Like a Runaway Cover

Lita Ford doesn’t have to prove anything to anyone. She’s been playing guitar professionally since she was a teenager, and while she’s partied as hard as any Rock Star, Ford has kept her private life private, raised a family and still managed to maintain a high level of respect in the rock community for her skillful musicianship, which was never compromised by the fact that she’s also a beautiful woman. I remember reviewing her Greatest Hits Live CD when it was released in 2000 and being so blown away by what a great performer she is and how much fun she and her band seem to be having on stage. She’s never lost sight of what it means to have a Rock & Roll heart, and you have to respect that. So many performers could learn a few lessons on how to rock from Lita Ford. Maybe she’s never been a household name, but when she comes around, people take notice. Lita’s new album, the autobiographical Living Like a Runaway, signals that it’s time to start paying attention again.

These ten songs tell Lita’s life story, from achieving fame at an early age, having a successful career in the era of MTV video stars, to motherhood and her recent (apparently messy) divorce. Working with producer and respected rock guitarist Gary Hoey, Lita sticks to her roots of making an album based on strong song writing (Hoey and lyricist Michael Dan Ehmig are contributing songwriters), guitar, bass, drums and passionate vocals that don’t sound like they came from a can. The album kicks off with the high energy “Branded” and never lets up, delivering Old School heavy rock energy and hooks sharp enough to sharp blood. On the title track, a Bryan Adams-esque ballad that compels with its deeply personal lyrics and memorable melody, Lita looks back on her time in the now legendary teenage all-girl rock band The Runaways, a band that launched not only her career but also that of Joan Jett. That was a long time ago, but Ford makes the experience sound like it just happened yesterday.

In promotional material Lita reveals that after seeing a documentary about Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, she was motivated and inspired to focus on creating Living Like a Runaway as a complete journey rather just than a bunch of individual songs. The effort has paid off, in that this album recalls the experience of listening to an album from start to finish as you retreated to your teenage bedroom, gatefold cover open in front of you, pouring over every lyric and instinctively moving your body to the rhythm of the rock. There are so many great songs on this disc, but my favorites are the aforementioned “Branded,” “Hate,” “The Mask” (which rocks with a slightly industrial feel) and the passionate, frenetic “Relentless”, but if you like real rock and roll, you’ll dig every song.

Living Like a Runaway is Lita Ford’s strongest, most accomplished album to date. Like oxygen in a vacuum, this album is very highly recommended for fans of song-based, melodic hard rock featuring expert guitar work. Who would imagine that such a thing would be so hard to come by these days?

Grade: A

Living Like A Runaway will be released June 19th, 2012 in North America via SPV/Steamhammer. The album will be available in four configurations: a double LP, limited edition CD, standard CD and digital download. Living Like A Runaway is available for pre-order on Amazon Dot Com.

Recommended Listening: Take It Or Leave It, A Tribute to The Runaways

While the span of the band’s career was relatively short, The Runaways changed the landscape of rock and altered the perception of women making music forever. With The Runaways’ biopic just released last year, who would have imagined that their influence would continue to be topical several decades after their break up? I was around for the duration of their rise and fall and, the significant post-Runaways careers of Joan Jett and Lita Ford notwithstanding, I sure never thought we’d still be taking about them 30 years later. So it’s not surprising, really, that Main Man Records has compiled what can only be called the definitive Runaways tribute compilation; a two disc set called Take It Or Leave It. All you need to know is that this record fucking rocks.

If you were alive and digging rock music in the seventies, you don’t really need me – or anyone else for that matter – to sell you on this compilation/tribute. The collection sells itself by virtue of what it is: over fifty separate tracks of badass punk/metal/rock music and interview snippets that make me wish I were 15 years old again and could still get excited about a new band. Because, compared to anything that’s charted in the past 20 years, The Runways kick everyone’s ass. There a few songs here that aren’t “perfect” (really, guys; Bebe Buell may have slept with an impressive number of Rock Stars, but she can’t sing) but they all sound good, and most of the covers are amazing. It’s also fun to hear the brief sound bites from original Runaways members on how they joined the band and other memories. But the bottom line is that this record is Rock & Roll, or what it used to be before everything became emo and autotuned. Yawn city. That’s the most positive review I can give it. Here are a few more details about this faith restoring release.

Take It Or Leave It is a 2-disc collection with 36 tracks that span The Runaways entire catalog. Their best-known songs, like “Cherry Bomb” and “Queens Of Noise” are represented alongside more obscure tunes like “Hollywood” and “Born To Be Bad.” The fullness of the selection makes it evident how generations of artists, from L7 and The Go-Gos to Redd Kross and Guns n’ Roses, call back to the passion-fueled rock sensibility of The Runaways.

While the individual interpretations of each track explore the original contributions of Cherie Currie, Joan Jett, Lita Ford, Sandy West, Jackie Fox, Vicki Blue, Take It Or Leave It also includes two performances by original Runaways band members: lead vocalist Cherie Currie’s rocking remake of fan-favorite “American Nights,” and “Dirty Magazines,” the last recording made by drummer Sandy West (who passed away from lung cancer in 2006) with her band Blue Fox.

More Info, and Track/Band Listing after the Jump!

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Must Read Book: Neon Angel, A Memoir of a Runaway By Cherie Currie

“Neon Angels On The Road to Ruin…”

Few true tales have the power to compel and transport the reader quite like the life story of a bona fide Rock & Roll Survivor. Of Rock’s innumerable legends with stories worth telling, so many of them – Hendrix, Joplin, Morrison; the list is endless, really – never lived long enough to write their histories in their own words. And of those that have written autobiographies, no one ever really gets – or takes advantage of – the opportunity to go back and revisit his or her life on the written page, updating the tale or adding details that were perhaps forgotten or too painful to tell the first time around. Cherie Currie, former lead singer of the teenage all-girl rock band The Runaways is an exception to that rule. In 1989, Cherie published her autobiography, Neon Angel: The Cherie Currie Story. Admittedly unable to even read the book herself until 2000, Currie – now more than two decades on the right side of recovery from a drug and alcohol addiction (she had to get a private detox room in Sacramento) that nearly took her life – decided that her story needed to be brought up to the present, and that certain traumatic experiences she’d lived through as a young woman, but wasn’t yet ready to re-live in the book’s first installment, needed to be told. Serving as the source material for the new film The Runaways, Neon Angel has been updated and recently republished by It Books/Harper Collins as Neon Angel: A Memoir of a Runaway. For any true rock fan, and even those who read the 1989 edition of Currie’s book, I would strongly suggest checking out the updated version, because it is a pretty wild ride.

Because Currie quit The Runaways after less than two years in the band, and considering that her post-Runaways music career failed to take off like that of her band mates Joan Jett and Lita Ford, who enjoy successful musical endeavors to this day, not many people even know what happened to Cherie Currie once she left the band. What makes Neon Angel such a great read is the authenticity and vulnerability with which Currie imbues her narrative. While she engages the reader with fantastic and vivid tales of rock stardom enjoyed as a member of The Runaways, playing to hysterical audiences wherever they went, having their pictures plastered in rock magazines all over the world and meeting their own rock heroes such as David Bowie and Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, the true story of Cherie Currie’s time spent fronting this history-making band is far from all fun and games. Without parental supervision or even proper adult representation, and too naive about the music business to understand their basic legal rights, the girls were robbed blind by Kim Fowley, the producer whose vision for The Runaways was that they serve as his own personal money making-vehicle. Fowley’s verbal and emotional abuse was relentless and based on some of the stories in this book it’s difficult to understand why criminal charges were never brought against this scumbag. Beyond that, there are enough “lost weekend” style drug stories to scare anybody straight, including harrowing tales of times that Currie put herself in harm’s way while under the influence of drugs that make it difficult to believe that she even lived to share them.

Most importantly, Neon Angel takes you inside the world of a talented and driven fifteen year old girl who went to from being a high school student, listening to her favorite records in her bedroom and hanging out with her friends at the local dance club to being an international rock star all before she reached her 17th birthday. Thanks to Currie’s inviting and down to earth narrative voice, the reader can empathize with her personal triumphs and tragedies in a way that allows you to really “get” what it must have been like to walk in her shoes.

Serving as both a cautionary tale and an inspirational true-life page-turner, The Worley Gig gives Cherie Currie’s Neon Angel: A Memoir of a Runaway Five out of Five Stars.

Happy Birthday, Joan Jett!

Joan Jett B&W

Just a couple of days ago her Runaways’ band mate Lita Ford celebrated a birthday, and today guitarist / songwriter and all-around bad ass Joan Jett – an undisputed icon of feminist rockerdom, for sure – celebrates her Anniversary of Birth on September 22nd (Born 1958)! Happy Birthday Joanie!

Sandy West, Runaways Drummer and band Co-Founder, Succumbs to Lung Cancer

Sandy West Portrait On Kit
Image Source

10/21/06 – Los Angeles, CA.

Sandy West, drummer for the influential 70s band The Runaways, died Saturday, October 21, 2006 after a long battle with lung cancer.

She left an indelible mark on rock music as a founding member of The Runaways, which featured fellow rockers Joan Jett, Lita Ford and Cherie Currie, and as a leading inspiration for a number of notable musicians, both male and female. Many young musicians can trace their inspiration directly to the first time they heard “Cherry Bomb.”

The Runaways toured the world several times, often headlining with opening acts like Tom Petty and Cheap Trick. Their discography includes over 60 albums, singles, bootlegs and compilations. Their music has been included in dozens of rock and punk collections, has appeared in several feature films including Dawn: Portrait of a Teenage Runaway and Detroit Rock City, and and has been covered by numerous bands, from The Street Walkin’ Cheetahs to Guns ‘N’ Roses. They were nominated for the Hollywood Rock Walk, and bootlegs of Runaways performances are still highly prized amongst rock and roll collectors around the world.

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