Bebe Buell “Hard Love”

(-Sugarbuzz Magazine Review By Geordie Pleathur)

I had some bad years of having to sell-off all my autographed memorabilia and irreplaceable rock ephemera, just to keep on, barely gettin’ by. I’d collected quite a cool smattering of vintage Bebe Buell swag, over the years-the “Gargoyle” forty-five with Mister Ratboy, “Covergirl”, “Jacuzzi Jungle”, “Retrosexual“, all these swanky, “must-own” collectibles, but it’s all gone now, lost to a smirking string of smug record-store owners, who snidely, paid me pennies for my treasures. I even had a big, pink, Bebe Buell with Piss Factory poster, on my walls, for years and years. ‘Still pains me to recall, being told I looked, “like a homeless person”, one snowy day, while on my way to the local record store, to sell off my last sellable possession-the hardback copy of Bebe’s illuminating autobiography. I lost everything I had, in my many miserable, “midnight moves”. Ha! Whatever I thought I knew about Bebe has expanded vastly, by getting to hear her new disc (due Sept. 27th on Niji Entertainment). “Hard Love” is easily, as essential as the Cars Comeback album, or Michael Monroe’s “Sensory Overload”. It’s as good as anything any of her more famous friends have delivered, in recent years. I think it’s, by far, the best thing she’s ever done. I hope Axl, and Tyla, and Courtney Love, and Aerosmith, can all take some fresh inspiration from this impressive record. Some people, sadly, still view music like sports-exculsively, in terms of success as defined by corporate fame, or “units shifted”, but Bebe has succeeded here, at crafting an intensely beautiful thing of intimate beauty, on her own terms, and that’s something to be emulated by everyone in these tragically, soulless days. There’s something here for every fan of real rock’n'roll.
Bebe has written some really lovely songs, full of lyrical sophistication, and gutsy, meaningful, heart on her sleeve, story telling. This is what records from major artists are supposed to be like-it takes you on a ride to different places, even different eras. Her pop stand-out, “Sugar”, absolutely shimmers–like Echo And The Bunnymen, or Siouxsie And The Banshees! “I Will Wait” is transcendent, luminous, and anthemic, like a Patti Smith epic. Just amazing. “Normal Girl” reminds me of the N.Y. Loose, the Donnas, and the Runaways. Album opener, “Mother Of Rock’n’Roll” is the thoroughly kickass sound you’ve always, always wanted to hear, coming out of the speakers, on a new Bebe Buell Band platter! Giant, crunchy, Love-Reaction style guitars, Mott The Hoople piano-tinklings, soaring pop vocals, her down and dirty growl, upfront. “Devil You Know” is immediately seductive, in an eighties-ambient, goth and new wave, sort of way. This is my favorite kind of melodic, keyboard-based, post-punk-it’s very reminiscent of the Lords Of The New Church, the Divinyls, and Jim Carroll’s “Dry Dreams”. In fact, this album is pretty much Bebe’s crowning-achievement, roughly equivalent to Jim Carroll’s “Catholic Boy”. It’s an autobiographical masterpiece, backed by a remarkably talented band, of U-Melt, Samhain, Guns N Roses, D-Generation, and Das Damen alumni. I’ve been a fan of Bebe Buell’s, since I first got my black fingernail polished hands on that “Covergirl” vinyl, as a teen, punk, record-store clerk, in the mid-eighties, but even I, have clearly, underestimated her. This album floored me. I mean, honestly. It’s just hit after hit. 

Bebe has already been a “Playboy” centerfold, covered Motorcycle Boy and the Smithereens, raised a movie star, been a creative muse for everyone from Stiv, and E.C., to you and me, but who was expecting her to record and release an album that renews your faith in rock’n'roll, and vividly showcases significant songwriting abilities, and her still throbbingly defiant, rebel heart? Bebe should be really proud of this remarkable triumph. I dunno why so many of her former peers seemingly forgot the key to good music is just a little bit o’ soul, you gotta mean it, mannn. Bebe brings a hardcore, purist, gutsy, sentimental, rock’nroll authority to this album. She has sincerity. “Black Angel”, her tribute to Joey Ramone, might be my favorite, but her cover of the Vibrators “Baby Baby”, is the one most destined to end up on everybody’s make-out compilation, or back to school, cross-country, cruise-tape. While all the big-time, 70′s dinosaur rockers are busy trying to make tedious, Kenney Loggins yacht-rock, or lousy, Black Eyed Peas, plastic, tween techno-pop, Bebe Buell just found herself a band of real talented, empathetic players, and looks you in the eye, while she sings from the heart. This does not sound  anything like that too rich to be good, shitty, “millionaire-rock” our narcissistic former idols from the eighties cock-rock bands, have all been boring us with, in recent years. This is really honest, beautiful, emotional music, down to Earth, relatable, real. There are dreamy parts, loads of punk attitude, some sneering Psychedelic Furs tension, futurama-fa-fa-fa. Her singing has become more nuanced, full of vulnerability and warmth. I was not expecting her to deliver anything this vital, essential, and undeniable, but this l.p. has moments that really touched me, like the NY Dolls and Patti Smith. I suspect the second half of her career is going to be even more exciting than the first. The production is superb, throughout, and aptly underscores Bebe’s varied spectrum of influences. “Baby, Baby” is breathtakingly cool. “Timeline” is pretty, and soulful. “Heartbeat” has a liquid-neon, eighties-metal, guitar sound. “Hard Love” is probably one of the best records you’re likely to hear this year. Startlingly good. Get it now. Bebe, you keep glistening, and we’ll keep listening!

Bebe’s exciting new CD will be available to all you Sugarbuzzin’ hungry hordes
September 27th, on Niji Entertainment….