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The Bitch Is Back… Live

Steamhammer (2013)
Rating: 6.5/10

The arguable queen of rock ’n’ roll returns with The Bitch Is Back… Live. After attempting to revive her career with the laughable Wicked Wonderland (2009), Lita Ford delivered the goods on her last record Living Like A Runaway (2012), and this live show features all of her hits as well as a few from the latter. And, obviously, a cover of Elton John’s ‘The Bitch Is Back’. For this show, recorded at the Canyon Club in Agoura Hills, California during October 2012, Lita is accompanied by Mitch Perry (guitar), Marty O’Brien (bass) and Bobby Rock (drums).

The show opens with ‘The Bitch Is Back’, raucously declaring that she is the queen bee. The sound is great here and I was surprised at how tight the band seems. Mitch Perry and Lita are a solid match; each one’s playing really compliments the other. The mega-hit ‘Kiss Me Deadly’, the groovy nu-metal-ish ‘Hate’, and the new-found heaviness that finds its way into ‘Can’t Catch Me’ (a song Lita co-wrote with Motörhead’s Lemmy during a drinking binge at his apartment) is solid proof that the two are a force to be reckoned with.

The songs that come off the best are the older ones though. ‘Out For Blood’ is a fury of neo-punk rock that is similar to The Runaways material but here it comes off as distinctly more rock ’n’ roll. It’s coupled with ‘Dancin’ On the Edge’ which gets a more melodic facelift and features an old school “face-melting” guitar solo.

This was the beginning of the platinum selling Lita years and you can hear that sound coming to the forefront. ‘Close My Eyes Forever’ is the highlight though, ending up with probably the best version of this song to date, with Lita handling the vocals all herself. I’ve seen her play this song before and it’s usually clunky at best, but here she nails it.

Surprisingly, a few songs I expected to hear are absent. The Dangerous Curves album (1991) is completely skipped over, without even a pinch of ‘Shot Of Poison’. ‘Hungry’ is the lone representative from the great Stiletto album (1990), meanwhile. I would have loved to have heard ‘Aces & Eights’ or the title track here, and ‘Lisa’ coupled with ‘Mother’ from Living Like A Runaway would likely have been awesome. Not surprisingly Wicked Wonderland is entirely skipped, but Black (1995) is as well and it had some truly excellent songs. That really is my main complaint here; Lita has a solid catalogue of material and very little of it is represented on The Bitch Is Back… Live.

In the end this is a good live album. The band are tight, the recording is solid (the drums are kinda weak truth be told), and there is a good bit of new material put forth. I just found myself wanting much, much more than the album delivered. This could have reintroduced fans to Lita’s catalog but instead it focuses solely on the early albums.

Mark Fisher