Lita Ford - Living Like a Runaway (SPV)

Better than living like a Spice Girl, clearly...
Release Date: 
18 Jun 2012 - 11:30pm

 

By my reckoning, every single artist still alive that had a record deal between the years 1986-1990 will have jumped aboard the reformation gravy train, stopping at all stations to Nostalgia Central, by this time next year... Lovable Lita Ford is the latest hair metal artist to succumb to temptation, throwing her hat into the ring with a likeable – though far from essential – slab of pop rock that’ll do enough to satisfy long time fans but won’t do much to convince those of a more cynical bent that the former Runaway (hence the album title – geddit!?) was right to curtail her semi-retirement.

Opening up with the Heart-lite of Branded, the album doesn’t cause much of a flutter initially. Branded is a limp sort of ‘attitude’ song, which given the slightly lacklustre delivery of Ford falls flat on its arse. Hate is much better, whilst the slightly more laid-back title track seems to fit Lita’s more relaxed vocal delivery. It’s the sort of hing you might have seen on Jon Bon Jovi’s mid nineties solo output, and it  ain't bad at all.

Relentless is a fair stab at the sort of glam stompage that former Runaway compadre Joan Jett made her own all those year ago, it’s chorus building a nice head of steam, coincidentally aided by the first bit of singing with any real conviction on the album. It’s got a nice solo too. 

So you’re starting to think things are on the up, right? Well, yes, after a fashion, but the ballad Mother dissipates the momentum built up by Relentless, notwithstanding the fact its actually not a bad song. Maybe in her heyday Ford would have spent a bit of time and money building this track up into the album’s centrepiece, making it the big, show-stopping production number it deserves to be. But this is not Lita’s heyday, and the song is left to survive on its (not inconsiderable) charms alone, leaving the listener wishing for more. This is frustrating.

The heavier Asylum restores one’s faith a little, as Ford and band riff up a storm on a classic late eighties angst-ridden epic, but just when you want the track to cut loose in a storm of flashy soloing at the end of the track it fades into obscurity on the back of a subdued keyboard outro, and it seems like another opportunity has gone begging. 

Talking of riffing up a storm, which you’ll remember I was there in the last paragraph, Devil in my Head offers exactly that, in the process kickstarting the album just when you were on the verge of giving up on the bugger. This is what we want. A riff reminiscent of something Zakk Wylde might have come up with in the pomp of his Ozzy tenure provides the backbone of this excellent number, that riff bleeding into a neat bridge/chorus arrangement that’ll have you nodding in approbation and singing along without a thought for any dignity you may still possess. It’s marvellous stuff, and it keeps you invested in the album right to the end.

The end is two more tracks, viz the breezy Love 2 Hate U and the Nikki Sixx-penned Song to Slit Your Wrist By. The former a breezy rocker featuring duet vocals from an unnamed (on my digital link at least) male vocalist, the latter a perfunctory ‘modern’ rocker that probably wouldn’t even have got a look in were it not for the august nature of it’s author; It ends the album with another nice little bit of guitar work and Lita’s valedictory ‘kiss this’ kiss-off, bringing the curtain down on an album that doesn’t quite hit all it’s targets but still manages to leave Ford with a couple of decent songs to throw into the (doubtless) greatest hits set she’ll be plying on the road with Def Leppard this Northern Summer. Ford's return to the fray is good in parts, then, if a little disappointing overall.