Live albums are always a challenge. They capture a spontaneous moment in the history of a band. Lacking the endless tinkering, overdubs and electronic effects that go into a studio recording, a live album is the answer to a simple question: Can the band bring it on stage?
With The Bitch Is Back…Live, Lita Ford answers that question with a resounding “Hell yeah!” Beyond that, she does so in a way that demonstrates not only can she rock, she can also have a hell of fun while doing so.
The album opens with a spirited cover of Elton John’s The Bitch Is Back. The rest of the record is a broad mix of songs from Ford’s career, with four tracks from her latest album Living Like a Runaway. That album is a very personal, very intense audio diary of Ford’s life. The autobiographical Relentless, Living Like a Runaway, and particularly the dark Devil in My Head really let the listener into her life. Those songs are powerful enough as is, but they are accentuated even more by the live performance, as if Ford is standing onstage, baring her soul to the audience.
One nice aspect to the album is that comments from Ford to the crowd have been included. “I love the roar of the guitars, they’re so badass,” and “I love those dive bombs” following an extended guitar solo between Ford and second guitarist Mitch Perry. The stage banter shows an almost giddy, girlish enthusiasm which inevitably draws the listener in. Along those lines, on the closing track, which is one of Ford’s best known songs Kiss Me Deadly, she introduces the tune by saying “I went to a party last Saturday night, and yes, I did get laid.” And, she changes “Had to borrow ten bucks from my old man” to “Had to borrow ten bucks from Marty’s old man,” a playful reference to bass player Marty O’ Brien (drummer Bobby Rock rounds out the band).
Bottom line—The Bitch Is Back…Live is a great live rock ‘n roll album. The band is tight, the songs are killer, and you feel as if you’re almost part of the family listening to Ford’s comments. But more than that, it’s a fun album to rock out to. Sure, Lita takes herself seriously, especially on the darker new songs, but she hasn’t forgot that it’s OK to laugh, too.
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