This is something I've wanted to do for awhile. As an extra during my break, I've decided to take a look back at female rock, and where it stood 20 years, and 10 years ago. A restrospective, sort-to-speak. For the first of the annual topics, this is for the years 1988, and 1998, respectively.
Going through my cd library, I notice right away that 1988 was the first year when Female Rock starts to really find their way into the music scene. The late 80's was cluttered with hard rock, big hair, glam, hair metal, whatever you choose to call it. Yet, the ladies out there not named Lita Ford were often overlooked by radio, or underpromoted by their record labels. For this reason I'm unsure, as hair bands contained men (particularily the glam scene) who dressed and singed like girls...why not promote the real thing? Real ladies, singing like ladies, with all the sex appeal to-boot? (or is that, to-stiletto heel?)
Outside of the obvious (Lita Ford's 'Lita', featuring her smash hits, 'Close My Eyes Forever' and 'Kiss Me Deadly.) Here are a few other standout albums from 1988:
Annica 'Badly Dreaming'
Charted in her homeland Finland, this was an excellent slice of hard rock and AOR. The opinions on this one are mixed, and are based on vocals. Some like the gruff voice, others don't. The original sold for more than $70 on eBay, but was reissued by MTM Classix in 2004, not only with a superior remaster production from the original, but with bonus tracks taken from her unreleased Pink Flamingo sessions.
Lisa Hartman 'Til My Heart Stops'
Yes, the actress Lisa Hartman, who later married country singer Clint Black. Her album isn't rock per se, it's more of a mature pop/AOR album. But that's what makes her standout from the average recycled pop music. It was well-crafted, and she has a voice as well, no artificial stuff. You will hear it from track 1 'Tempt Me If You Want To', and her great vocals never let up. With no reissue, this is a fluctuating eBay seller (once over $80, but sometimes no more than $30,) but worth every penny.
Private Life 'Shadows'
I almost didn't purchase this album, because I bought their second album first and it left me disappointed. However, Private Life's debut was much stronger, had catchier hooks, and it was just better all-around.
Romeo's Daughter 'S/T'
I didn't particually care about this album, even though it was produced by Mutt Lange. I think it's because it was too poppy and less AOR. I had expected more of a Def Leppard-feel (which I experienced somewhat with their second album.) But a lot of people still think this is a good one, and I think it's been reissued in the past year.
Rough 'First Cutt'
I can sum this one up plain and simple: If you like Doro Pesch and Warlock, then this album's for you. This could've been labeled as a lost Warlock album and nobody would've noticed the difference.
Tindrum 'Drums of War'
The holy grail for female rock collector's: The most expensive female rock album on eBay (at one time, clocked for as much as $300+!!!!!) This was a side-project of ex-TNT drummer Diesel Dahl. It doesn't stand out like a lot of female rock albums, possibly not remotely worth what it sells for, but still a good album none-the-less. Rumor had it that it was to be reissued by MTM Music, but that record label went defunct last year.
This is my holy grail of female rock from 1988. Featuring the great Debbie Davis on vocals, this album was a perfect blend of hard rockers, and keyboard-driven AOR. It sells for about $50 on eBay, but this is one case where it's worth the price. What went wrong? As far as I know, the band didn't stay together that long, not even for a tour. It wasn't promoted well, as their record label, Arista Records, was primarily a pop-oriented record label, and they usually don't give out their albums for reissue. A shame. One of the few 'rare' albums that doesn't have a filler track. Pick one: 'Jump Into the Fire' 'Show Me What You got' 'If You Were A Woman' 'Am I Wrong' 'Let Me Be the One,' all awesome tracks through and through.
From my cd library, I've collected and kept only 4 albums (one of which was a reissue.) At this point, the grunge years were firmly in control of the music scene, the underground melodic rock scene had yet to establish itself, and gothic metal was more ambient and less mainstream. However, the four I've kept are real standout albums, absolutely worth seeking out.
For a short while, I had been in contact with Josette. I still hear from her maybe once a year, but this former Star Search contestant just doesn't like computers. Her debut album, superb post-80's AOR. She has a set of lungs; every note heart-felt and massive in sound. The songs, wonderfully crafted. What happened since then? One e-mail, to quote her, 'Bad Record Label Syndrome.' Apparently, the label who signed her also changed some of the songs before its release. I would've liked to have heard the original tapes, or even some unreleased demos intended for album #2...she never sent them. I only wish she had cut more music.
Rock Goddess 'S/T and Hell Hath No Fury' (Reissue)
This was the reissue I was talking about. A couple of vinyl-only early-80's releases from the band that was Rock Goddess. The debut is pretty similar to Girlschool. The second album closer to Warlock. Straight-up no-gimmicks rock 'n roll. Though I don't spin this reissue very often, it's still fresh-sounding every time I listen to it (difficult for me to give such praise for early female rock.)
Lana Lane 'Garden of the Moon'
I always thought Lana Lane's best years were always her earliest years as a rocker. 'Garden of the Moon', no doubt, my favorite album of hers. I think it's because it's not quite as symphonic as her other albums, and had a catchy almost-80's feel on some tracks, (Destination Roswell, Evolution Revolution, to name a couple.) Overall, I'd have to say it's still my favorite album, although her new album, 'Red Planet Boulevard' came darn near close to being my new favorite.
I didn't discover Nightwish until 2003. Evanescence hit the scene, and I was suddenly looking for more similar-sounding mainstream gothic metal. While as Evanescence gave me something new to listen to, it wasn't until Nightwish entered my life before my tastes for music had truly changed. There's some irony to share: Stratovarius 'Destiny' was my first power metal album. It was the first finnish album to get recognition outside of Finland. However, while Stratovarius was dominating finnish radio, the underground of Finland's music scene created a sickeningly stunning sophomore-effort from a band called Nightwish. Tarja's vocals...an acquired taste, back in the day, but I tell you what, looking back at this album, I will go out and say that this is one band that outdid Stratovarius at their own game, even when said band was at their peak! Nightwish was faster, more bombastic, more in-your-face...and virtually nobody knew who they were! ...Nowadays, there are plenty of gothic bands to choose from, but I feel Nightwish has been the most consistent. There is no one album I dislike (except maybe 'Once' outside of the album's singles.) I've listened to their discography more than any other band this decade. But as far as ranking their albums go, 'Oceanborn' is my bonafide #1 favorite Nightwish album, (yes, even slightly better than Dark Passion Play. Despite what my reviews say, my opinion often changes over time, and after many spins, DPP has fillers that I skip, but Oceanborn has no fillers. 10 years later, it's still solid start-to-finish, easily withstanding the test of time.) ....My only gripe: Wishing I could understand the lyrics without consenting the booklet.
There you have it, 1988, and 1998, in restrospective. If you know of a female rock album from these two years that you'd like to share your opinion with, you're welcome to post it here.
'All these years you spoke me, to my heart, to my sanity. Revealed to me all my deepest fears, and brought me down, soaked in tears.' -- Sirenia