LABEL: Pavement Entertainment
REVIEW BY: Alan Holloway
Remember when Lita Ford made an album with her husband? If you're lucky the answer is 'no', because it was a bit of a car crash, so I wasn't jumping for joy when I learned another 80's rock legend was making an album with her husband. Luckily, Vixen's Janet Gardner has made it with her own husband Justin James, and not Lita Ford's.
Fans of Vixen, and there are still many, may be disappointed that this self titled effort doesn't make any attempt to be 'Rev It Up Part 2', and if love is still a killer then it's now a psycho killer with severed heads in the fridge. This is obvious from the first two tracks, 'Rat Hole' and 'Hippycrite', which substitute sugary AOR for hard edged riffage and a metal edge. By rights they should sound a bit tired, but after a few spins they really do grow on you, the raw power complimenting vocals that still shine all these years later. 'If You Want Me' is a track that will be more enjoyable for those frightened by big guitars, whilst 'Candle' sits nicely between the two styles. Throughout, Justin James provides some excellent guitarwork that lifts each track without taking over, and it's clear that this marriage may just be a match made in musical heaven. For example, the middle of the album sees a 'What have we done to the world' type track called 'Let It be Over', that just manages to sit on the right side of preachy/cheesy, mainly due to a scorching solo from Mr James. The song itself has a very different arrangement that works well, and it's nice to see the duo gambling a little and winning.
After reading some very negative comments based on the preview samples, I wasn't expecting to like this this very much, but it only took a few listens to really start enjoying it and appreciating the talent involved. It's more on the heavy side than some may have wanted, but is no less of an album for it. Gardner sound great throughout, displaying real power and attitude combined with the expected melody, and if you're a fan there's no reason not to check it out.