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Wicked Wonderland

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Album Review

Though former Runaways guitarist Lita Ford has been absent from the recording industry since 1997, she hasn't exactly been idle. After releasing Kiss Me Deadly, her final album after a string of them in the '80s and '90s, the music scene — and the industry with it — changed, and alternative ruled the airwaves. Ford got married to Jim Gillette, former vocalist with hair metal rockers Nitro, and started a family. In addition, she relocated to the Caribbean. Wicked Wonderland is uncharacteristic of the pop-metal she released a decade ago. It's an in-your-face metal record, but ultimately it's a very studied and calculated 21st century pop-metal record. It's an album with explicit sexual content, examining S&M, bondage, power exchanges, and all manner of kink and crave in lyrics, words, and sleeve images. Ford wrote all of these songs with her co-producers Greg Hampton and Gillette. Gillette is also either a duet partner or backing vocalist on every track here. Hampton handles bass, keyboard, and other sonic duties, and there are a pair of drummers who alternate in Chris Collier and Stet Howland. The album's first single (and longest track), "Bed," was released exclusively to, one of the leading suppliers of S&M and bondage gear on the internet. Ford claims that she and her husband have carved out a path to a happy family life, and it does seem that they detail it on this recording. Musically, while Wicked Wonderland is harder, edgier, darker, and more visceral than anything she's released in the past, this is still a very pop-oriented heavy music recording. The songs have hooks as well as blazing guitars and triple-time drumbeats, and they're saturated in keyboards and samplers. Metal has morphed and changed so radically in the last decade, this record sounds more like a late White Zombie tribute album than it does a contemporary metal recording. Check out the hooks in tracks like "Indulge," or the post-'80s metallic musical architecture of "Scream 4 Me," or even the industrial keyboard sounds combined with growling death metal vocals, and Ford's own almost-nostalgic balladic style, all of which make for something that feels not quite of the moment and something not quite dated, either. It also provides a link, however thinly disguised, of the persona she displayed on her earlier recordings. With the proper marketing strategy it will get some play and push in certain quarters of the music world, and perhaps in some markets not even normally associated with music.

Customer Reviews

Not exactly an UPgrade from her classic material...

Don't get me wrong; every artist changes up his or her material as the years go by. Unfortunately, while many artists produce work later in life that equals or exceeds their overall product from years past, Lita Ford doesn't strike me as being one of those artists--quite the opposite, in fact. Not only do so many of these songs touch upon the same topics that her albums from the 1980s and '90s did (i.e., sex, love, and rebellion), but their collective sound is much less appealing to my ear as a whole. Gone are the innocence and quiet reflection that resonated in and gave so much meaning to such songs as "Only Women Bleed," "Lisa," and even "Playin' With Fire," and in their place is little more than sheer innuendo--not that her earlier work couldn't have been raunchy in its own right, but in many of these songs, it reaches new levels that made my listening experience that much more of a chore than anything else. Honestly, this album made Lita come off more like a middle-aged woman who's clinging desperately onto her hard-rocking youth and trying too hard to relive it than as a seasoned rock veteran whose giving the music she loves one more shot before giving both her fans and the music industry as a whole her final goodbye. Believe it or not, though, I hope this isn't the last we hear from Lita, because this just doesn't seem to me to be the best way to conclude an otherwise stellar music career.

I Like it

Can't believe Lita hates this work. I think it sounds killer. Too bad. It doesnt sound like something she would particulatly do but thats what's good about it. Its different and she sounds great doing it.

I Think this is WICKED FRESH

Lita came back with this and I think she put out an AMAZING album, I think its fresh and clever and great that she can work well with her husband, I think he added a lot to the experience!!


Born: September 19, 1958 in London, England

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

One of two solo stars to spring from the ashes of the '70s all-girl hard rock band the Runaways, Lita Ford has long been a more frustrating, contradictory proposition for critics than former colleague Joan Jett. Ford is subtly feminist in her musical approach, displaying guitar heroics on the level of any male metal hero; the mere fact of her existence in the otherwise testosterone-driven heavy metal genre has made her a hero to some, but her persona has often been criticized as calculated to appeal...
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