Thursday, April 15, 2021

"Kiss Me Deadly" by Lita Ford

Song#:  3464
Date:  04/02/1988
Debut:  90
Peak:  12
Weeks:  23
Genre:  Hard Rock, Glam Rock

Pop Bits:  Ford initially made a name for herself as the lead guitarist of the all-female rock band The Runaways. Although the group only stayed together for a 4-year period, they were highly popular and influential. Following The Runaway's breakup in 1979, Ford chose to seek a solo career. By '82, she had signed with Mercury Records and had issued out her first solo LP Out for Blood. It failed to sell, but Mercury gave her another chance and she released Dancin' on the Edge in '84. It did much better reaching #66 on the chart thanks in part to exposure on MTV and the #51 Rock track "Gotta Let Go." The album also earned her a Grammy nomination for Best Rock Vocal Performance, Female. It seems Ford then began to record a third album tentatively titled The Bride Wore Black, but it went unfinished. Ford then got new management (Sharon Osbourne) and moved over to RCA Records. For her third album, Lita, she chose to update her sound to be more in line with other glam metal artists who were getting songs on the Pop chart. Hit making producer Mike Chapman would help shape Ford's new sound and it was on display with this first single. While it would only get to #40 at Rock, the song took off at Pop and nearly cracked the Top 10. It helped the album sell well, but it would be the LP's third single that would provide Ford with her peak moment.

ReduxReview:  While the opening lyric seems a tad PG now, I remember it being kind of a big thing back in the day. "I didn't get laid, I got in a fight." Just the word "laid" had connotations in itself, but the fact that this was coming from a woman was nearly shocking. It really shouldn't have been, but the double-standard was highly in play. It was like, "oh, well obviously she's a nasty tramp." Yet had Poison released the song, it would not have been a big deal - "oh, they are just boys having fun." What a bunch of crap. I thought the same back then. I was like "yeah! you go, girl!" There has definitely been some progress made since then, but the double standard still exists. Just prior to me writing this post Megan Thee Stallion was being called out for her duet with Cardi B, "WAP," and its sexual lyrics. Besides conservatives, who basically condemn everything, a good chunk of the backlash came from - surprise - men. Even some male rap artists who have certainly waxed poetic on their tracks about their body parts and what they do with women in explicit fashion balked at Megan's lyrics. Hypocrites. It just goes to show that the double standard is still sadly out there. But I digress. I think Ford's bold initial declaration was awesome and the song was a chewy piece of glam rock candy. It was well-written, produced, and performed, and it should have made the Top 10. I didn't bother with buying the single; I got the album. It is still a fun track and ranks among the best glam rock singles of the late 80s. I also remember that when this song came out, I was a DJ at the local skating rink and I was not allowed to play the song because of the opening line. Everyone was requesting the song, but I couldn't play it. I finally convinced the management to let me skip over the opening and just start it from when the band enters. Yeesh.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  The Runaways began to form after producer Kim Fowley put drummer Sandy West in touch with guitarist Joan Jett. The pair decided to get a band together and with Fowley's help three more members were found including guitarist Lita Ford. After cutting their teeth on the club circuit, the band got signed to Mercury Records. By this point, the band consisted of the classic lineup of West, Jett, Ford, Jackie Fox on bass, and Cherie Currie on lead vocals. The band would release a self-titled album in '76 that barely scraped the chart in the US. A second LP, Queens of Noise, would do about the same the following year. However, both did really well in other countries like Japan and Australia where their debut album went gold. While their albums were not big sellers in the US, the Runaways were a popular live act. A couple of personnel changes would follow along with two more albums, but tensions in the band about direction would eventually tear them apart and by '79 they were done. Each member would go on to solo work and other projects, but Joan Jett and Lita Ford would have the most success on their own. Early in the band's formation, West and Jett brought on board bassist Micki Steele. Her time in the band was brief as she was either pushed out or fired and replaced with Fox prior to the recording of the debut album. Steele would later have big success under her given name Michael Steele as a member of another all-female band, The Bangles.


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