Sunday, October 17, 2021

"Edge of a Broken Heart" by Vixen

Song#:  3646
Date:  09/17/1988
Debut:  96
Peak:  26
Weeks:  21
Genre:  Hard Rock, Glam Rock

Pop Bits:  The roots of this band go back to guitarist Jan Kuehnemund's high school days in the early 70s in St. Paul, Minnesota. Her first band was called Lemon Pepper. They turned into Genesis, but then later became Vixen to avoid any issues with the successful UK band Genesis. Vixen didn't stick together long and broke up in '74. As the 80s rolled in, Kuehnemund decided to revive the Vixen name and set out to create an all-female rock band. Janet Gardner would come in as lead singer sometime in '83 while three other women filled out the other roles. As the quintet started to hone their skills, they got the opportunity to be in a movie. Vixen got cast as a band called Diaper Rash in the '84 sex comedy Hardbodies. It wasn't long after that the group moved to L.A. and began working the clubs. A couple years later, Vixen would become a quartet with the steady lineup of Kuehnemund, Gardner, Roxy Petrucci, and Share Pedersen. They worked the Sunset Strip clubs and were one of the bands interviewed in Penelope Spheeris' documentary The Decline of Western Civilization II: The Metal Years. In '88, they finally landed a record deal with EMI Manhattan and work began on a self-titled debut album. When completed, this first single was issued out. It would do fairly well getting to #24 Rock while making the Pop Top 30. Some good MTV coverage helped the song along with some press about the track's writer/producer (see below).

ReduxReview:  With the glam/metal scene basically a boys club, an all-female hard rock band seemed more like a novelty than something legit, but Vixen certainly made their mark and proved they had the skills to hang with any other band on the circuit. However, I think this single was a bit polarizing. While it was a terrific song that featured some high flying vocals from Gardner, it really was a pop song at heart dressed up in glam metal clothes and hair. Then the fact that it was a Richard Marx tune seemed to take away some of the band's cred. I remember some folks sort of ripping on the band basically saying that they were not the real deal because they got this pop guy to help mold them into something commercially viable for the sake of publicity and record sales - basically selling out. That wasn't necessarily true, but Marx was brought in to supply a breakthrough tune, which he did and did well. If a band of guys had done this, I doubt they would have gotten the same flack and that really sucks. Regardless, Vixen got their deserved break and I think this song went on to become more popular and well-known over time than what its chart peak would indicate. It really should have been a Top 10 hit.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  After Vixen had recorded most of the tracks for their EMI debut album, their manager Allen Kovac liked what they had come up with, but thought they lacked a surefire hit. Kovac then reached out to one of his other clients who also happened to be signed to EMI, Richard Marx. Marx had been a successful songwriter for hire before his '87 debut album became a major hit and made him a star. While out on tour to support the LP, Marx got a call from Kovac who asked him to supply a potential hit song for Vixen. Kovac sent a couple of tracks from the album to Marx, who liked what the band was doing. He particularly liked Janet Gardner's lead vocals. While on a two-day break from his tour, Marx sat down and quickly came up with the music for "Edge of a Broken Heart." However, all he had for lyrics was the opening line of the chorus. Needing help to fill out the rest of the song, he called up Fee Waybill, the lead singer of The Tubes, who took the song and was able to quickly come up with the balance of the lyrics. Kovac loved what he heard and then asked Marx if he could produce the song during another tour break. Marx did and the end result was this Top 30 hit.


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