Vixen - 1988 Vixen

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ARTIST: Vixen
ALBUM: Vixen
LABEL: EMI/Manhattan
SERIAL: CDP-7-46991-2
YEAR: 1988
CD REISSUE: 2006, Toshiba EMI (Japan), TOCP-67841

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: image

LINEUP: Janet Gardner - vocals * Jan Kuehnemund - guitars * Share Pedersen - bass * Roxy Petrucci - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Edge Of A Broken Heart * 02 I Want You To Rock Me * 03 Cryin' * 04 American Dream * 05 Desperate * 06 One Night Alone * 07 Hell Raisers * 08 Love Made Me * 09 Waiting * 10 Cruisin' * 11 Charmed Life

WEBLINKS: Site Link

Background

By the time Vixen's debut was released in 1988, the group had endured numerous line up changes and a slime ball scheme by EMI to give The Bangles a run for their money.

Vixen's origins actually go back as far as 1980 when Jan Kuehnemund formed the group while still in high school. Vixen managed to churn out an EP on Word Records in 1983 and appear on screen the following year as 'Diaper Rash' in the teen sex flick 'Hardbodies'.

Eventually Vixen became a fixture on the LA rock scene playing such haunts as the Troubadour as female counterparts to bands like Poison and Odin.

A revolving door of leather clad members filled the band's boots until the final line-up for recording was solidified. Share Pedersen and Roxy Petrucci joined the fold in 1987 and caught a small break in the film 'The Decline Of Western Civilization II: The Metal Years'.

In 1988, the band were signed to EMI and began recording their debut. EMI originally planned to have Richard Marx to take the gals under his wing and turn them out as pop/metal Bangles.

EMI's plan failed as the group looked and sounded nothing like the latter, eventually unintentionally competing with the pop/metal pretty boy bands who were in vogue at the time on MTV. Marx still managed to write a couple songs for the gals as did a number of the AOR elite.

The Songs

'Edge of a Broken Heart' - written and produced by Marx and Fee Waybill of The Tubes. That extended opening airy synth fill, followed by decent guitar-work by Jan Kuehnemund and Janet Gardner chops makes this a stand-out cut.

'I Want You to Rock Me' - sports the same booming drum motif of Kiss' 'I Love It Loud'.. Paint by numbers and plainly generic hard rock is saved by an infectious hook and chorus.

'Cryin' - those familiar with Jeff Paris' version on 'Wired Up' must of had a hard time with this. Although a modest hit for the band, the overall sound is thin and weak. Even the keys and Gardner's half way decent voice can't save this one IMHO.

'American Dream' - A John Butcher penned track features some great fretwork by Kuehnemund here.

'Desperate' - An acoustic intro sets the tone for another stand out cut. Good female fronted AOR.

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'One Night Alone' - another Paris remake but this time things are slightly better. Decent AOR with Gardner's voice on the forefront.

'Hell Raisers' - Might've worked well as a live cut but it's lyrical bravado makes this laughable and mere filler.

'Love Made Me' - The third single and another stand-out IMO. Good AOR and perhaps Vixen's better moments although the songwriting team of John Keller, Marcy Levy, Michael Caruso were brought in.

'Waitin' - actually written by Kuehnemund and Gardner and it's evident although musically the group overcompensates for the weak lyrics.

'Cruisin' - is another cut written by the band and by far the most hard-driving song of the bunch, built around the fast-paced drumming by Roxy Petrucci of Madam X fame. A good barometer of what Vixen might of sounded like if they would of been an independent entity a la Phantom Blue.

'Charmed Life' - another burner and remake from Jeff Paris 'Wired'. Decent although I prefer the original.

In Summary

'Vixen' sold millions thanks in part to the singles 'Edge Of A Broken Heart', 'Cryin', and 'Love Made Me' (which enjoyed heavy exposure on MTV).

Vixen spent the next year supporting acts such as Ozzy Osbourne, The Scorpions and Bon Jovi as well as headlining their own shows.

Vixen returned to the studio in late 1989 to record their follow up 'Rev It Up'. Vixen's second album had its share of catchy, infectious material but wasn't the big seller EMI was hoping for.

It wasn't until 1998's grunge addled 'Tangerine' on CMC International that Vixen recorded a third album. After the release of the latter, Roxy's sister Maxine Petrucci was brought in to play bass but Vixen were eventually sued by Kuehnemund who had left the group.

In 2001, Vixen was reformed by Kuehnemund with a line-up consisting of herself, Janet Gardner, Roxy Petrucci and new bassist Pat Holloway.

Unfortunately half way through a US tour disagreements caused the band to split up with only Kuehnemund remaining. Kuehnemund quickly recruited vocalist Jenna Sanz-Agero, bassist Lynn Louise Lowrey and drummer Kat Kraft to complete the tour.

In 2004, VH1 approached the four members of the 'classic' line up to appear on the show 'Bands Reunited'. Following the broadcast of the show EMI re-released the first two Vixen albums.

Both are worth investigating however 1998's 'Tangerine' and 2006's 'Live and Learn' are absolute rubbish!!!


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