LITA FORD – Time Capsule

lita-ford-time-capsule-8793Lita Ford’s career have been a somewhat stormy one, a bit of a roller-coaster, really. I guess everybody knows by now that Lita was once part of the world’s first all-girl hard rock band, The Runaways. Not only were they the first all-girl band, they were also very successful. The Runaways started back in 1975, released their debut album in 1976 and split in 1979 after only four albums, drugs and internal fighting broke the band up. Out of the five members, only Lita Ford and Joan Jett have had a successful career after The Runaways split. For Lita, her solo career started back in 1983 with the album Out For Blood, a more heavy metal oriented album than The Runaways played, but very uneven and seemed to focus more on Lita’s big hair, tight leather and big cleavage outfit than the music. A pretty harsh thing to write, maybe, but the record sure leaves a whole lot to desire and the promo pictures that went with the album spoke volumes. The follow-up, 1984’s Dancin’ On The Edge, that featured future Ozzy and Mötley Crüe drummer Randy Castillo, was better, but hardly good enough. This might also be pretty harsh to write, but Lita just didn’t seem to be a good enough song writer by herself, a thing that her record company and managers found a cure for for her third album, Lita (1988). The album was a true sign of the times, the music had gone from metal to the more radio friendly and AOR sound that was hip in 1988 and with song writing help from people like Mike Chapman (The Sweet), Lemmy (Motörhead) and Nikki Sixx (Mötley Crüe), she had an album that fired on all cylinders and the duet with Ozzy Osbourne on the ballad “Close My Eyes Forever”, gave her a big hit and the record went gold right on the spot. A special guest spot on Bon Jovi’s New Jersey tour helped to ship the record platinum and all of a sudden, people talked more about Lita’s music than her days in The Runaways and her famous ex-boyfriends like Sixx and Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath. But the success story was short. The follow-up Stiletto (1990) – she had married W.A.S.P. guitarist Chris Holmes by then – flopped and everything went back to go again. Stiletto wasn’t all that bad, but it was nowhere near the quality of its predecessor and even though she released a really good album in 1991, the Tom Werman (Cheap Trick, Ted Nugent, Mötley Crüe, Twisted Sister) produced Dangerous Curves, the interest was gone. Then came grunge and Lita’s desperate try to fit in with the new musical climate with the darker and alternative sounding Black in 1995 failed terribly. So Lita quit music, married glass breaking vocalist Jim Gillette, had kids and moved out of sight for everyone.

But back in 2008, Lita decided enough was enough and made plans for a big come back to the music industry. I remember looking forward to her come back gig at Sweden Rock Festival, playing an afternoon gig at the festival’s biggest stage only for the whole thing turning into one of the biggest failures in SRF’s history. The concert was a full on catastrophe, the band sounded untight and unrehearsed and the big crowd turned extremely small faster than you could say gotta let go. What a disappointment. But she had one card left in her sleeve, her new album Wicked Wonderland was about to be released in 2009, that album could show everyone that she had a lot left of life in her. But it was not to be. The album was a complete disaster and bombed hard. The album – as much a Jim Gillette album (he sang on nearly every song and co-produced it) as a Lita Ford album – was a mishmash of sampled industrial sounds, nu-metal beats and without any real songs or hooks at all – easily one of the worst rock albums I have ever heard in my life. I thought that was it for Lita, how could any artist survive this? Well, to make matter worse, Lita and Jim decided to get divorced and fought like cat and dog with Lita accusing Jim for being a home tyrant, beating her senseless and Jim accused Lita for being a bad mother and tried to take her kids away. How that ended, I’m unsure of, but hopefully it have turned out for the best, especially for the children. I thought Lita was done – for real and when she announced that she had yet another record in the works, Living Like A Runaway in 2012, I didn’t even care. But much to my surprise, the album was really good and Lita had gone back to her roots musically. The album turned out to be pretty successful and with a pretty successful live album, The Bitch Is Back, out in 2013, Lita Ford seemed to have gotten back on track for real. For the release of her new record, I really had my hopes up for a high quality continuation of her last record, but I became a bit sceptic when I heard the title of the record. Titles like this usually means going back and going back usually means that what we’re about to be given is old shelved stuff. And this is exactly what this record is – unreleased stuff that never made it on record.

But that is not the whole truth – the first three songs were all on Lita’s Black album, freshened up here. The “Intro” thing is a pretty funny thing where ex-hubby Holmes speaks as he is her father. “Where Will I Find My Heart Tonight” is guested by Jeff Scott Soto  (Yngwie Malmsteen, Talisman, Soto, W.E.T.) on vocals and this version is way superior to the original. On here it has evolved into a really catchy pop-metal pearl and in my book, this could very well be a hit – very good, indeed. “Killing Kind” has tuned from a dark, alternative ballad into a more bluesy melodic rock ballad with a very catchy melody. Ex – Red Hot Chili Peppers / Jane’s Addiction guitarist Dave Navarro plays mandolin, Billy Sheehan (Mr Big, Winery Dogs) plays bass and Cheap Trick dudes Robin Zander and Rick Nielsen sings backing vocals. Again, very good. The third Black song is called “War Of The Angels” and is a dark and heavy rock ballad and the one that bears most resemblance to the original, however this one is also more alive and fresh and really damn good. Sheehan is on this one as well. “Black Leather Heart” is a more aggressive hard rocker, but pretty standard, to be honest. It comes from the Dancin’ On The Edge sessions and just like that record, it’s ok, but nothing more. “Rotten To The Core” has Kiss’ Gene Simmons (bass) and Bruce Kulick (second guitar) guesting and that is just about the only interesting thing about the song. It’s a standard and forgettable hard rocker and it’s not hard to get why it was shelved – despite the Kiss guys’ contributions. “Little Wing” is, of course, a cover of the old Jimi Hendrix classic, but they went instrumental with this one. It’s ok, but I have heard better versions of it, this one feels half-hearted. “On The Fast Track” is also instrumental, but this hard rocker sounds more like an unfinished demo. It’s a jam, really, but it goes nowhere and is probably more fun for the musicians involved than for the listener. The ballad “King Of The Wild Wind” however, is much better. It’s catchy and very melodic, but it should have been better produced. It sounds like a demo, which it probably is, but it could have been a real hit. The same with “Mr Corruption”. It has a really good groove and with the right production, it has the potential of being a great tune, but on here my interest fades pretty fast. Closing track “Anything For The Thrill” is a fast, raunchy hard rocker that sounds as if it’s from the Out For Blood or Dancin’ On The Edge sessions. It’s an ok song but very forgettable and as I write this, I can’t even remember a thing from it. Taking notes while listening to music is sometimes really the shit, folks.

If I was a hardcore Lita Ford fan, I would probably love this little trip back in time. For nostalgic reasons, the album really does its job. Still, I can’t help but think that there is a very good reason for why these songs got shelved in the first place – they didn’t cut it then and they don’t cut it now. I’m not a hardcore Lita Ford fan, but I have followed her throughout her solo career, I got all her records, maybe not all of them as physical albums, but I have them and I do like much of her stuff, but this album doesn’t do squat for me. Also, I’m a bit puzzled why she has decided to release it now. It was four years since her last album, so why not make a real album, wait six months or so and then release this, as a gift to her fans or whatever. So, except for the three first songs, there’s not much here to get excited about, I’m afraid and those three songs won’t save this album. I’m gonna look at this album as an intermission and wait for Lita to make a proper record instead. But it sure will be interesting to see if she will take her revenge at Sweden Rock in June.


Other Lita Ford reviews:
Living Like A Runaway


1. Intro
2. Where Will I Find My Heart Tonight
3. Killing Kind
4. War Of The Angels
5. Black Leather Heart
6. Rotten To The Core
7. Little Wing
8. On The Fast Track
9. King Of The Wild Wind
10. Mr. Corruption
11. Anything For The Thrill