Album Review: Debbie Gibson – The Body Remembers (Stargirl)

By: Jesse Striewski

I wasn’t exactly a Debbie Gibson “fan” during her ’80s hey day. I was certainly aware of her presence thanks to MTV, but in my young mind, she was just something for my older sisters to listen to, not me. But with age comes wisdom, and my appreciation for all genres of music has grown exponentially over the years. Not to mention the moment I first saw Gibson scantly slinking around in her recent video for “One Step Closer,” I knew she had me hooked.

The Body Remembers contains fifteen cutesy pop tracks that often sound comparable to many of the current hits heard on modern radio today. Along the way, there’s contributions from the likes of Sixx: A.M./former Guns N’ Roses guitarist DJ Ashba and Cinderella drummer Fred Coury. There’s even a duet with Joey Mcintyre of New Kids on the Block, appropriately titled “Lost in Your Eyes, the Duet,” though said track is not as strong a ballad as probably hoped for. But the main overall highlights here are definitely the title track, and “Dance 4U,” the latter a seemingly perfect strip club anthem.

Okay, so I probably won’t go out of my way to listen to The Body Remembers on a regular basis any time soon. But you know what? I’d rather have my kid listening to something like this than the garbage that passes for music these days that was on full display at the V.M.A’s the other night. It’s a shame that someone with actual class such as Gibson’s doesn’t get the type of attention that the masses so blindly hand over to far less talented artists; if for no other reason, give her new disc at least one spin.

Rating: 3/5 Stars

Book Review: Nothin’ But a Good Time: The Uncensored History of the ’80s Hard Rock Explosion By Tom Beaujour and Richard Bienstock (St. Martins Press)

By: Jesse Striewski

With renewed interest in the decade of decadence continually growing each year, there’s no shortage of various media information on ’80s hard rock (a.k.a. ‘hair’ or ‘glam’ rock) and heavy metal out there these days. But this new book by rock journalists Tom Beaujour and Richard Bienstock (with a brief forward by Slipknot frontman Corey Taylor) is truly the new bible on ’80s hard rock and heavy metal.

Largely tracing it’s roots back to the influence Van Halen had on the movement in the mid to late ’70s, here the two authors put together a collection of interviews that includes numerous musicians, producers, promoters, magazine editors, and the like, to help tell the tale of arguably one of rock’s greatest eras. Various key members of such staple acts as Motley Crue, Ratt, Guns N’ Roses, Quiet Riot, Dokken, L.A. Guns, W.A.S.P., Poison, Cinderella, and Warrant, – as well as numerous Rewind It Magazine interviewees from over the years – including Jay Jay French of Twisted Sister, Jack Russell of Great White, Brian Forsthye of Kix, and Rachel Bolan of Skid Row (among many others), are just some who help recall the foundation of the genre that changed it all in great detail.

The perspective is unique and fresh, despite some of the stories already found in other published works (many of those involved have previously published their own individual biographies). There’s even a brief but brilliant collection of many never-before-seen photos included as well. In short, Nothin’ But a Good Time is a rollercoaster ride of literature from start to finish, and one of the best of it’s kind currently available on the subject. It simply ‘don’t get better than this.’

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

Album Review: Tom Keifer – Rise (Cleopatra Records)

Tom Keifer

By: Jesse Striewski

From the moment he first arrived on the scene with Cinderella in the mid-80s, Tom Keifer has defined what it means to be the “cool” rock star front man. Now on his second full-length solo effort (with his new backing band), he’s still kicking just as much ass as he was back in his heyday.

I wasn’t really sure what to expect at first with Rise, but once I was finally able to give it my full attention, I knew Keifer still had “it”. Songs like “Untitled,” “Touching the Divine,” and “The Death of Me” (my personal favorite off the record) are all enough to get crowds moving. Conversely, numbers like “Waiting on the Demons” and the title track are more somber efforts (the latter of which Keifer even seems to be channeling his inner John Lennon on).

I’ve made no secrets over the years regarding how huge of a Cinderella/Tom Keifer fan I am; with this new release, my respect for both has only grown further.

Rating: 4 Stars

Bret Michaels and Lita Ford Live in Orlando on 11/3/18 Words By Jesse Striewski/Photos By Brooke & Jesse Striewski

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Back in 2013, two kids who had been dating for a few months went to Orlando to quench their mutual thirst for ’80s rock by seeing Poison front man Bret Michaels live in concert. It was at that very show they realized they had finally found something special, and by the next weekend, they were engaged. Now married, the two make up not only a great husband and wife couple, but also a writer/photographer duo that occasionally team up to cover local concerts, such as the recent Bret Michaels show in Orlando this past November 3. This time around the two were there with a purpose, covering the show (which this time featured not one, but two ’80s icons as Lita Ford opened) with photo passes in hand. The result was truly a night to remember for all who were there.

Lita Ford has been on my personal list of artists to see live for some time now, and after several missed chances over the years, that wish was finally realized (and with the best seat in the house -the photo pit – nonetheless).

Immediately packing a punch with fan favorite “Gotta Let Go,” Lita indeed got the staged primed for a night full of great old school rock. And with only so much time to spare, Ms. Ford didn’t waste any of it, belting out classics like “Playing with fire,” “Hungry,” and “Back to the Cave,” before rounding things out with her monster hits “Close my Eyes Forever,” and of course, “Kiss Me Deadly.”

And finally, Poison frontman Bret Michaels took over the stage, getting the party started appropriately with the classic “Talk Dirty to Me.” Michaels wasted no time, and quickly followed up with “Ride the Wind” before going into a cover of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama” that the crowd ate up completely. And joined by Cinderella bassist Eric Brittingham by his side, there was no denying the ’80s hard rock energy coming from the stage.

From there on out, it was one Poison hit after another; their version of “Your Mama Don’t Dance,” followed by “Something to Believe In,” “Unskinny Bop,” “Every Rose Has Its Thorn,” and of course, the party anthem “Nothin’ But a Good Time.” Although his set may have been cut slightly shorter this time due to a shared bill, the energy was still undeniable. It’s hard to imagine anyone in attendance that night went home unsatisfied.

Lita Ford opening the show (photo by Jesse Striewski).