- - - - - -

Lita Ford - The Bitch is Back…Live

Lita Ford – CD Review
The Bitch is Back…Live

Lita Ford

CD Info
Steamhammer / SPV
12 Tracks
English Lyrics

When the opportunity to review Lita Ford’s The Bitch is Back….Live presented itself, I couldn't help but to reflect back to the 80’s, when MTV dominated the industry and big hair and posing was all the rage. It was during this time that Lita hit pay dirt with releases such as Lita and Stiletto. Who can forget her duet with Ozzy on “Close My Eyes Forever?” And while this live LP borrows heavily from Lita’s distant past, there are some strong tracks from her more recent catalog, and she performs them all with skill and precision.

The Bitch is Back…Live is a follow-up to Lita’s long awaited comeback CD Living Like a Runaway, and was recorded in early October of 2012 in front of what seems to be a small yet enthusiastic audience. Lita sounds quite at ease interacting with the audience, and both her vocals and guitar runs are crisp and dynamic. Lita certainly hasn't missed a step and has strong support from her band mates throughout the performance. The set list borrows primarily from her 1988 classic Lita and her comeback 2012 release Living Like a Runaway, the exceptions being the title track, a Classic Rock hit single from Elton John and “Hungry” from the 1990 CD Stiletto. While some have suggested the performance could have drawn from a more diverse collection, it seems quite reasonable considering most of her hits came from Lita and like any live CD should, considerable emphasis was placed on the artist’s most recent studio release.

The performance begins with the title track which may seem curious to some, particularly since Lita has often cited guitar hero Ritchie Blackmore’s work with Deep Purple as her primary influence. Yet the band delivers a strong rendition with Lita’s vocals adding color and texture and the rest of the band lending solid support. The track is delivered with high energy and performed almost effortlessly. The next track is “Hungry” from the 1990 CD Stiletto which begins with a tightly layered bass line followed by some standard bar room guitar riffage which later transitions into a slow, plodding verse that lacks the dynamic of the other tracks on the CD and failed to hold my attention. It’s perhaps the weakest of the tracks in my opinion and seemed quite dated both instrumentally and especially lyrically with clichéd verses like “cut you like that with a pussy cat scratch.” This is my least favorite track of the set.

The next couple of tracks come from Lita’s most recent release. “Relentless” begins with an “Old School” Wah Wah riff followed by some straight forward but catchy Rockabilly guitar hooks ala James Burton. While not awe inspiring on a technical level, the tune packs a solid punch and has an “Average Joe” appeal that creates a fun ambiance. “Living Like a Runaway,” the title track from Lita’s most recent studio release follows and begins with a nice catchy guitar riff performed with skill and accuracy. The song transitions smoothly into the opening verse and later loops nicely into a somewhat dark but rather nice chorus that’s quite pleasing to the ear. “The Devil in My Head” follows, which begins with a vocal verse, and again some standard Heavy Rock fare with some good old fashioned Minor Pentatonic guitar riffs that lead into an ambient bridge that delivers a cool melodic augmentation then loops into a nice bright and catchy chorus. Lita showcases her strong songwriting skills here: simple but soulful verses that transition smoothly and cleverly, conceived with depth yet understated.

The set then shifts gears and features a heavy dose of Lita, Starting with “Back to the Cave.” The song begins with a somewhat uninspired guitar introduction which seems to lack the energy of the previous three tracks. However the songs does pick up some speed as it breaks into a solo that’s highlighted by some nice guitar interplay between Lita and Mitch which eventually winds down into an outro that fades nicely. Next up is “Can’t Catch Me,” a tune co-written with the infamous Lemmy from Motorhead. The track opens with a rapid fire drum salvo followed by an alternate picking guitar flurry that effortlessly blends with the drums. The opening verse brings lots of energy as one would expect from a song involving Lemmy. However, there’s a cool tonal shift that comes without warning transitioning the tempo down with a rather dark and gloomy guitar hook that has a strong Tony Iommi aesthetic.

“Dancing on the Edge” follows, coming out of the gate with a full head of steam. A heavy guitar riff underpinned nicely by the drums but is somewhat stagnant and unspectacular, although the song is punctuated nicely at the end with an aggressive outro solo. The next track from Living like a Runaway is “Hate.” The song begins with a heavy bass line followed by a guitar run that has a subtle burlesque vibe to it and yet again, as Lita does so well, the song grabs the listener’s attention by transitioning nicely into a bright and catchy chorus. Lita is fully aware of the old Nashville slogan: “Don’t bore us give us the chorus” because this seems pinpoint her strength as a Songwriter.

The set then winds down with Lita’s two most popular hits to date: “Close my Eyes Forever” and “Kiss me Deadly,” both from the Lita CD. Lita’s duet with Ozzy on “Close my Eyes Forever” remains epic to this day. However, even Ozzy’s absence couldn't prevent Lita and her band mates from delivering a soulful and electrifying rendition of this ballad, which in my opinion is the strongest track of the concert. Lita’s tonal control is solid and she emotes with great depth and conviction while the rest of the band holds it all together. The concert concludes with ‘Kiss me Deadly,” and the band comes out roaring with energy rising to a fever pitch. Things get a bit out of control with a wild second solo that seems to come unraveled a bit and ends with a long, drawn out ending reminiscent of the “Arena Rock” of years gone by. Nevertheless it’s a fitting close to a very strong performance.

The Bitch is Back…Live is an exceptionally strong follow up to Living Like a Runaway. Lita sounds better than ever. While many of her contemporaries have worn out their voices over the years, either through over use or personal excess, yet Lita’s vocals remain stellar. Although never known for her vocal range, Lita avoids the entrapments younger artists often fall into by remaining in her vocal comfort zone. And while her guitar playing is by no means virtuoso, she again stays within her limitations and has a knack for songwriting that that is unpretentious and cleverly crafted. She also seems to have grown as an artist, interacting congenially with the audience while having thrown aside the hyper sexual smoke and mirrors commercialism common to the MTV generation of artists of the 80’s. This is a definite must by for fans of ‘Old School” Heavy Rock!

Rating: 9 / 10