This was the first album I heard or owned of Lita Ford. I had vague knowledge of her time with The Runaways at the time, and that she had been mixed in with Joan Jett in those days. Everyone in the world knew Joan Jett from her “I Love Rock and Roll” hit a few years before, but Lita hadn’t had as much publicity in that time. Aside from the factors already mentioned, I had also read that Lita had collaborated in a failed project with Tony Iommi, so there were enough ties to the music I was listening to at the time to back up my purchasing of Lita. There was a fascination with hearing what a female guitar player and singer could produce, given that most of the music that I had been exposed to at that time was long haired male bands.
From the outset, the album settles into the genre that was making waves at the time, the hair metal sugar rock that was being proliferated by bands such as Bon Jovi, Poison, Ratt and others. It would probably border on soft metal, but Lita’s guitar and vocals keep it above that, showing off a flair that keeps the energy high and the momentum flowing. There is the usual proliferation of soft metal ballads of course, but for the most part they are done in a way that makes them enjoyable more than cringe worthy. This all comes as a matter of taste of course. If you come into this album thinking it is going to be highbrow lyrically and bombastic musically then you are in the wrong frame of mind. If you come into it openly realising that you are getting a genre that is forever going to be stuck in its era then you are a much better chance of enjoying it.
Most of the songs here are still able to swing their thing. The groove of “Back to the Cave” still drags you in from the outset, while the Lemmy Kilminster-penned “Can’t Catch Me” might be repetitive lyrically but it has the higher velocity tempo that picks up the pace of the album nicely. “Kiss Me Deadly” is the song that for me is synonymous with Lita’s career. It is upbeat, fun and allows Lita to show the best of her wares, singing at high volume and giving us a taste of her guitar skills over the top of the probably-too-prevalent keyboards in the mix. “Falling In and Out of Love” is surprisingly catchy given its obvious motivation. I still surprise myself when I find myself singing along to the song. The second side starts with the hard drumming and emotive “Fatal Passion” which again sets the right tone. “Broken Dreams” sets the template for the band Vixen that appeared at this time. It could have come straight from their debut album.
On the other side, “Blueberry” feels far too melodramatic both musically and vocally to get behind. I understand the motivation behind it and like the fact that it tries to get darker but overall I think it holds up the album. So too “Under the Gun”, which drops the tempo back a couple of notches and goes for the serious side of the music. Again both these songs are ok but not on the top shelf of the album.
The final song is the duet with Lita and Ozzy Osbourne. “Close My Eyes Forever” is no doubt the crossover song that encouraged many to at least give this album a try. It is very much a power ballad, and both Lita and Ozzy combine well within the song, topped off by a good solo from Lita as well. The video, along with the one for “Kiss Me Deadly”, got heavy rotation on music video programs at the time and no doubt drove the sales of the album. I wonder how many of those that bought the album on the back of this song actually listened to the album more than half a dozen times?
I have no problem in admitting that most of the reasons I still like this album is because I bought it upon its release, and it reminds me of those times and all the good things that happened then. And yes, I had the poster of Lita on the wall of my bedroom. Having had a couple of days of this album on constant rotation, I still find it so easy to listen to, and I find that I enjoy it now more than I really expected to. While Lita’s other albums of those days are ok without being great, this one still has the hooks that the commercially-friendly writing and recording afforded it. The Osbourne touch, both managerially and musically, is a helpful asset. I still enjoy this as much as any hair metal album of the era, which is the key. If you don’t enjoy that era of music, then this isn’t for you.
Rating: “Late for my job and the traffic is bad, had to borrow ten bucks from my old man”. 4/5