"Live & Learn" (Demolition; 2007)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton


Founding member guitarist Jan Kuehnemund returns to the Vixen brand name with this entertaining hard rock album.

With all the line-up changes and the fact it was nine years between the band's last CD ("Tangerine") and this one, it's really unfair to compare "Live & Learn" with previous Vixen albums. Suffice to say that, once again, Jan's guitar work is a highlight and that new vocalist Jenna Sanz-Agero, whose style of singing is very different than the better known Janet Gardner, delivers a more soulful and less attitude-ridden performance here.

The tracks on "Live & Learn" would never be called heavy metal by today's standards, but they are solid hard rock. The album's single ballad, "I Try," slows things down a bit but Jenna's true emotion doesn't let the track throw off the flow of the entire album. The cover of David Bowie's "Suffragette City" is entertaining but not as different as one might hope.

The crisp production here is also a highlight, with the guitars soaring and slicing through at the appropriate times.

Fans of Vixen's earlier work may find "Live & Learn" slightly different but just as satisfying.

Vixen: Jan Kuehnemund - guitars; Jenna Sanz-Agero - vocals; Kathrin Kraft - drums; Lynn Louise Lowrey - bass.

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"Rev It Up" (EMI; Records; 1990)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton


There was a time in the late 1980s and early 1990s that metal sounded exactly like this. It was designed to have a rough edge that other music didn't have and it was supposed to be fun party music. 

Of course, this is a little different. This is an all female band. But, like Girlschool before them, Vixen knew how to rock hard.

This re-issue of the 1990 "Rev It Up" has both good and bad sides. First, it's nothing but a pure example of the "heavy metal" of that era. The music on "Rev It Up" has the same wallop and the same radio-friendliness of any Quiet Riot release. It's all crunchy guitars, irresistible melodies and a ballad or two thrown in to enhance airplay. Other than the fact it's an all grrrl band, however, the music on "Rev It Up" could have come from any other popular artist of the era.

Thankfully, despite the fact that it's occasionally a little cheesy and familiar, "Rev It Up" is never annoyingly bad. In fact, I was surprised at how well a couple of songs have held up over the years.

Fans of 80s and early 90s metal will find a lot to like on "Rev It Up." Those looking for something a little edgier should probably look elsewhere.

Vixen: Roxy Petrucci - drums; Janet Gardner - lead vocals; Jan Kuehnemund - guitars; Share Pedersen - bass.

Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Copyright 2008 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
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