The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

Lita Ford

Wicked Wonderland

What do you do after 15 years without a record out? Maybe a few festival dates? Hook up for a tour to test the waters? Lita has already done that and her performance at Rocklahoma in 2008, albeit a little rusty proved she still had it. But what next? And what is your motivation after such a long break?

There are only so many ‘hair metal’ bands that cab still make a living; and most of them seem to accept that it is by retreading the past on the 80’s nostalgia trail. There are a few exceptions of course, but generally the rule is that even the biggest bands of old have to accept some sort of reduction on returns.

Over the time Lita has been away we’ve seen a number of rock musical movements some good some bad but most reasonably short-lived. We’ve had ‘acoustic’ albums; ‘package tours’; ‘covers’ albums and now with varying results (even for the biggest bands) we have the ‘classic album in its entirety’ gig.

Most new product from the ‘hair bands’; with a few notable exceptions has just been a retread of ideas and sounds from the 80’s with perhaps expected results.

So now Lita has a new album out. Does she try to capture the classic sound to please the audience that remains from the 80’s or try something new? How much of a gamble will she take?

Well she tried something that doesn’t sound like the old Lita we love but that doesn’t necessarily make it ‘new’ or indeed original. Lita and Jim (Gillette – ex Nitro and Mr Ford) have taken a sound they obviously love and written an album around it. The sound is ‘industrial’.

This record feels like as much a Jim Gillette record as a Lita one, which makes sense as they wrote all of the tracks together. However it of course doesn’t sound like 80’s Lita or Nitro. I suppose that the years under the bridge between releases is a long time to distance yourself from ‘hair’ and listen to some new sounds (well years of new sounds). Overall the album leaves you thinking ‘if only’.

There are some artists from the 80’s who have now sadly left the business and who I would pay to get them back into the studio, just to see what they would come up with. So you could say that this album is the sound of Lita and Jim sat in the studio thinking. Some of the ideas are great but the great shame is that they then go and paint over the album with a pseudo-industrial finish.

‘Crave’ is a pretty heavy opener, there’s the industrial feel, studio effects and Jim’s vocals. Jim’s vocals are disappointing; and the song ends up a pastiche of various sounds from the missing years. Saying that, it’s not the worst.

In fact Jim’s backing vocals get even more annoying as the songs go by, as do the studio effects that on occasion seem to have just been thrown at the songs to see what sticks, and with very little effect. Some of the ideas here to be honest are pretty good but suffer badly from both of the above.

‘Piece’ and ‘Patriotic SOB’ all quiver under unnecessary effects and shoddy vocals. Thankfully we get no Jim on ‘scream’ and that is an improvement; but as he takes co-lead on the next track it’s a brief respite.

‘Wicked Wonderland’ is a bit more interesting, a modern rock song, a little more interesting and actually quite cool. Of the rest ‘Love’ and ‘Betrayal’ show glimmers of promise before the sounds-the-same-as-the-last-one curse of the backing vocals strike. Bands like lacuna Coil do this male-female vocal interplay a hundred times better than this.

‘Truth’ rocks OK; and I love the slow burn of ‘Sacred’ but the song never really catches alight. By the time you get to ‘Everything’ you know that you have pretty much heard all there is on offer. ‘Garden’ is passable, and the closer ‘Push’ are probably two of the better songs here. ‘Push’ especially is a little different, a more flowing bluesier rocker devoid of studio ‘spice’ and scary vocals.

How would I summarise? The album seems to deliberately distance itself from the Lita we love and in that it succeeds. The album is very industrial in attitude and outlook with a heap of sexy lyrics thrown in. If you want to call it modern you can if you like. Wicked Wonderland is nothing to shout about in the end. What on earth have this pair been listening to for the last 15 years?