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Blvds Of Splendor – Cherie Currie
I was going to call this a “long awaited” solo record from ex-Runaways singer Cherie Currie, but that’s just a ridiculous understatement. Currie had this in the can and was excited to put it out in 2010. I won’t get into the frustration, red tape, and controversy behind the reasons we didn’t get it ten years ago, but rather I will tell you that this is a brilliant and timeless rock and roll record.
Cherie Currie, aside from still having a rich vocal tone and range, remains one of the sweetest personalities that the rock game has ever seen. Even with limited commercial success, she has managed to keep an abundance of prominent musical friends that continuously rally around her. For this record she invited some of that top shelf talent to help kick these songs into overdrive. I see names like Lanny Cordola (House Of Lords), Slash (Guns N’ Roses), Billy Corgan (Smashing Pumpkins), Duff McKagan (Guns N’ Roses), and Currie’s son Jake Hays (Maudlin Strangers). But, perhaps the most important guest on this record comes by way of Matt Sorum. Sorum is, of course, known as the drummer for Guns N’ Roses from ’90-’97, but his resume is littered with all kinds of accolades beyond his Guns period. I came to know Sorum through a little known
record he did with Jeff Paris in ’87, and then I followed his career through stints with The Cult, Velvet Revolver, and Slash’s Snakepit. He’s not only a great drummer, but he’s also a talented arranger and producer. I guess you could call him the captain of this smooth sailing ship called the Blvds Of Splendor, as he plays drums on every track except one and he produced the vast majority of the record. So, the table has been set for the original Queen Of Noise to board this ship and start making waves.
In 2015, Currie released a record called Reverie. It was an excellent effort, but it wasn’t the record that she wanted to put out. From the very first track of this record you can hear the stark difference in energy from that Reverie release. This jumps out of the gate like a thoroughbred bound to run wild all over the track, except this aggressive stallion stays on course and finishes the race quite a few lengths ahead of the rest of her catalog.
The lead track on the album, a punky tune by the name of “Mr. X,” starts with a pounding drum beat and a Ramones-like vibe. The song turns into a great hard rocker with Currie adding her rich tone, and Slash adding a distinctive guitar solo. With a co-write credit going to Spacehog singer Royston Langdon on this one, the superstar parade of talent continues. When Currie does her take on the Nick Gilder classic “Roxy Roller,” you get the feeling that she’s totally in her comfort zone. The T.Rex vibe of the song gets a suave and sexy swagger when Currie struts through it with pussycat prowess. “You Wreck Me” is another hard and heavy rocker that kicks ass. Joan Jett manager Kenny Laguna can be heard on organ parts, and legendary sax and harmonica player Jimmy Z lends a horn part to the tune. All of these songs have incredible energy. The title track, which is a duet with Smashing Pumpkins mastermind Billy Corgan is the moodiest piece of work on the album, which is no surprise being that it was written by Corgan. Even this slower more vibey format maintains an energy that fits the rest of the record. I think a lot of thought went into the track listing of this record because, like the great albums of the pre-CD era, it has a great flow. All of these songs work together to carry you through the album, changing in mood and sonic structure along the way. (Make sure to listen for an intense orchestral arrangement by Sorum on the brilliant “Rock & Roll Oblivion”)
“Force To Be Reckoned With” and “Breakout” are rockers co-written by songwriting master Holly Knight. “Bad And Broken,” yet another heavy rocking tune, is co-written by former Prohibition Rose singer Emily Belgard. As the impressive guest list gets longer and longer, this album seems to just get better and better. I must also mention Currie’s band constants here as well, because they are much off the reason that these songs rock so vibrantly. Guitarist Nick Maybury who has been with Currie for so many years, lends his songwriting talents as well as his incredible guitar skills. Bassist Grant Fitzpatrick, another loyal longtime band member, plays bass on all but a few songs. And, of course, there is Currie’s son Jake Hays, who writes and plays guitar in various places.
This album was actually released on a limited vinyl edition of 3000 copies for the 2019 Record Store Day event. I was first in line to snatch it up on that day, but this digital release is giving me even more! I was really delighted to hear that this will have three bonus tracks when it’s released digitally on April 28, 2020. The bonuses include a nice cover of The Monroes 80’s semi-hit “What Do All The People Know?” to go with a couple other nice covers including the Tommy James classic “Draggin’ The Line” and The Hollies’ “The Air That I Breathe” that appear on the regular track listing. And just to throw a few more special guest names out there, Currie is joined by Brody Dalle (The Distillers), The Veronicas, and Juliette Lewis on a re-working of the Runaways’ classic “Queens Of Noise”.
It’s fitting that this record would end with an intense re-working of “Queens Of Noise,” because Cherie Currie is a woman that keeps re-inventing herself. From badass teen rock pioneer, to film actress and voiceover talent, to being an amazing chainsaw artist – Cherie Currie does it all. And, with this tasty slice of rock and roll pie, she proves that she can kick some ass whenever she damn well feels like it.