Lita Ford: Lita + Dangerous Curves

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Review by Brian McGowan

BGO Records

Lita Ford – Lita

One Runaway, two producers, two albums. BGO Records continues to unearth classic melodic rock albums. These two Lita Ford (The Runaways) albums, from 1988 and 1991 respectively, have been digitally remastered and paired in one reissue package. And okay, while it might be a stretch to call these classic albums, you can immediately hear Lita trying hard to steer clear of the banality inherent in so much of the music of the time. Not an easy thing to do when short sighted record company execs expect the recordings to conform to formula. Lita had 2 things in its favour. First, producer Mike Chapman was a vastly experienced songwriter, and although he contributed only 2 songs, he had an ear for a good ‘un, picking out ‘Kiss Me Deadly’ (written by Billy Idol’s bassman, Mick Smiley) and bringing in David (son of Bob) Ezrin and Nikki Sixx to write with Ford. And secondly, Ford was an underrated guitarist whose solos frequently added colour and sparkle to Chapman’s big, slick, polished but often characterless production.

Sometimes it falls short – ‘Can’t Catch Me’ and ‘Broken Dreams’ are anonymously formulaic – at others it rises above the crowd, sucking in the rarified air of originality. ‘Blueberry’ (written by Chapman) is a dark, ominous piece of melodic rock music that cuts against the grain of the surrounding material, and is all the more welcome for it. The “big hit”, ‘Kiss Me Deadly’ borrows heavily from Roddy Frame’s magnum opus, ‘Somewhere In My Heart’, seemingly grafting his beautifully descending verse melody onto a much weaker hook. But still it works. The single went Top Ten on the US Charts. And despite his dalek drone, Ozzy’s duet with Ford propelled ballad ‘Close Your Eyes Forever’ into the upper reaches of the Billboard Top Forty.

Lita Ford 20137 out of 10

Track Listing:

  1. Back To The Cave
  2. Can’t Catch Me
  3. Blueberry
  4. Kiss Me Deadly
  5. Falling In And Out Of Love
  6. Fatal Passion
  7. Under The Gun
  8. Broken Dreams
  9. Close My Eyes Forever

 

Lita Ford – Dangerous Curves

Dangerous Curves came 3 years later, producer this time was respected A&R man, Tom Werman. Between them, Ford and Werman harnessed the talents of proven songwriters Jim Vallance, who’d written for Bryan Adams and a zillion others; Michael Ehmig, who’d contributed material to Meat Loaf and Kansas, and Michael Caruso, who’d written with and for Bill Champlin, Jeff Paris and Michael (Tangier) LeCompt. The album featured a starrier studio cast too, with Jeff Scott Soto and Joe Lynn Turner on backing vocals, Matt (Satriani, Springfield, Scaggs) Bissonette on bass, and Howard (Heart) Leese on guitar. All Ford’s aces were in the right places, but the album’s growth in popularity was stunted by the onset of Alternative Rock and Metal, and it finished up damned by faint sales. Shame, there’s a lot to love about this album.

The melodic power chords of ‘Shot Of Poison’ resolve in a punchy, singalong hook, forging a radio friendly anthem for the times. Despite the cliched lyrics, ‘Bad Love’ could have come from the pen of Tom (Cinderella) Keifer, gilded by a beautifully measured axe solo from Ford. Elsewhere, bombastic, melodramatic lyrics are inclined to overwhelm some good tunes (‘Playing With Fire’, ‘Hellbound Train’), placing the songs firmly at the scene of the crime, as the world moved on and into a new era of rock music. That said, the album is still something of an undiscovered gem, as good as if not better than much of the melodic rock being produced at the fag end of the Eighties. Well worth investigating.

That, plus BGO records have done an impressive job in packaging the 2 CDs, with liner notes by Neil Daniels and a full reprint of all credits and lyrics.

7 out of 10

Track Listing:

  1. Larger Than Life
  2. What Do You Know
  3. Shot Of Poison
  4. Bad Love
  5. Playing With Fire
  6. Hellbound Train
  7. Black Widow
  8. Little Too early
  9. Holy man
  10. Tambourine Dream
  11. Little Black Spider