April 27, 2020 Cherie Currie – Blvds of Splendor (Album Review)
Beginning her Rock-n-Roll career very young, nearly nothing has been predictable for Cherie Currie. Famously recognized as the lead singer of legendary all-female band The Runaways, Currie zigged and zagged – acting in film, becoming a successful solo artist, but most importantly, finding herself. Like many, the story of Currie has not been all sunshine and rainbows. Outlining her struggles and triumphs in the 2010 autobiography, Neon Angel: A Memoir of a Runaway, Currie has been in a good place for many years, leaving the past in the past, and moving forward into the future.
Hitting the road and touring in the 2010s, Currie surprised many with the release of her 2015 album, Reverie. An exciting time, in the years since, many have wondered if Currie would return with even more music or was Reverie merely a swan song? Answering that very question, Currie is loudly and proudly back with her latest album, Blvds of Splendor, due out digital on Tuesday, April 28th.
For those who are not aware, much of the work put into Blvds of Splendor was actually developed much earlier than you would expect. In fact, in a 2015 interview, when asked about songwriting, Currie told Cryptic Rock: “Right after I opened for Joan Jett in 2010 at the The Pacific Amphitheatre, Matt Sorum and I went and made a record for Blackheart Records. Billy Corgan wrote a duet that we do on the record. Slash, Duff McKagan, The Veronicas, Brody Dalle, and even Juliette Lewis were involved. That has been shelved by Blackheart Records for the last five years. So, I have made a record, but I am not sure when it will come out, or if it will.”
An interesting tidbit of information to digest, it is also important to note the album was actually given the green light for release a year after Reverie in 2016. Unfortunately, there was another setback – Currie was seriously injured while chainsaw carving, falling over 12 feet to the ground off of a hilltop scaffolding. Recovering from the accident, she then went to work with Fanny Drummer/Vocalist Brie Darling, putting out the album Motivator in August of 2019.
Which leads us back to Blvds of Splendor, an album shelved and shelved again before finally seeing the light of day for a limited run 180 Gram Translucent Red Vinyl release on Record Store Day in 2019. Clearly the result of seeing something all the way through, even with the vinyl release, only a limited number of listeners had a chance to hear the album. Fortunately, it is now getting a digital release through, you guessed it, Blackheart Records.
Produced by Matt Sorum (Guns N’ Roses, Velvet Revolver), who also gifts his talents from behind the kit, the album is an awesome collection of mature, heartfelt Rock tunes more than skin deep. Complete with 12 tracks, 15 for the digital release, it launches with a smack to the face with retro Punk-laden Rock on “Mr. X,” which also features stellar guitar work from Gun N’ Roses’ own Slash and Duff McKagan along with Nick Maybury. A rebellious piece, the album then settles in with the blues-ish “Roxy Roller,” featuring Currie’s son Jake Hays, anthemic “You Wreck Me,” and irresistible synth-accented “Black Magic.”
Strong enough at this juncture, Blvds of Splendor only gets better from here with the beautiful, well-composed title-track, featuring Smashing Pumpkins’ Billy Corgan. If that were not enough, “Force To Be Reckoned With” comes in as perhaps the most lyrically potent and musically energetic cut of all. From here, “Bad and Broken” continues to carry the torch of guitar-driven Rock and “Rock & Roll Oblivion” shows the range of Currie as a singer. This is while “Shades” offers a heartwarming acoustic reprieve, “Draggin’ the Line” does justice to Tommy James & the Shondells’ original, “Breakout” kills it with an sharp riff, and “The Air That I Breathe” sends you off with a formidable cover of The Hollies’ classic.
With plenty to enjoy, there is still room for the bonus digital tracks which include “What Do All the People Know?,” a raucous adventure with “Gimme,” before you are left screaming for more with “Queens of Noise.” The last of the bunch, “Queens of Noise” is a cover of The Runaways’ tune that should be heard by any aspiring female musician because it reiterates that ladies can rock just as hard, if not harder, than men. Featuring Juliette Lewis, Brody Dalle, as well as The Veronicas, joining Currie and Sorum, it is a soulful Rock anthem for the ladies.
To say Blvds of Splendor is a fun Rock album is just the tip of the iceberg. It is one of those albums that start out good, but somehow get better as it plays on. The collaborations are interesting, the production is on par with more Classic Rock sounding records, and the energy is plausible. Cherie Currie is a compelling individual to study, and with this new album, more people should be enticed to give her a much deserved longer look. An album well worth devoting the time to, Cryptic Rock gives Blvds of Splendor 4.5 out of 5 stars.