Blvds of Splendor (Blackheart)
Former Runaway Cherie Currie is enjoying a renaissance at present, and Blvds of Splendor is the most recent fruit of that welcome return. There were 35 years — three and a half full decades — between 1980’s Messin’ with the Boys (recorded with her sister Marie Currie) and 2015’s Reverie (which saw her working with Kim Fowley, and also Lita Ford, again). But then last year, she put out The Motivator with Brie Darling (formerly of Fanny).
Also last year, Currie released this latest album on gorgeous red vinyl for Record Store Day. This year, it was released digitally. We’re a little late with this review because of world events, but we don’t feel too bad because the release has been delayed multiple times. That wasn’t Currie’s fault either — preparing to release this album in 2016, she suffered a terrible 12-foot fall while chainsaw carving that left her with head trauma for 10 months. Falling any distance while operating a chainsaw sounds terrifying. But anyway, the album is finally here.
Having Currie back and regularly releasing new music is a wonderful thing, especially for fans of Los Angeles rock & roll. Her voice on punk anthems such as “Cherry Bomb” has been so vitally important to the musical evolution of so many. It was frankly strange that she went away, musically, for so long while former bandmates Joan Jett and Lita Ford enjoyed successful careers.
The great news is that Blvds of Splendor is exactly the sort of glitter-fueled, trashy (in all the rights ways), punky, big-tune record that we would want from her. A lot of the talk during the promo for the album has been about the guests involved in the recording. Former Guns N’ Roses man Matt Sorum produces and drums, while Slash and Duff McKagan also pop up on a furious “Mr. X” and Smashing Pumpkins’ Billy Corgan plays on the title track. The recent digital release includes three songs not on the vinyl and one of those, “Queens of Noise,” features Juliette Lewis, Brody Dalle and The Veronicas.
All of those make for some great fun, but the reality is that Currie didn’t need help carrying this album (with the possible exception of Sorum’s production). Her voice soars on that title track, on a fiery “Black Magic” and on a super-swagger cover of the old Sweeney Todd glam tune “Roxy Roller” (previously covered by Suzi Quatro, who appears on Currie’s video for the song alongside Sweeney Todd’s Nick Gilder).
The album feels like a real statement — a song like “Force to be Reckoned With” making it clear that she’s well and truly back. A cover of Albert Hammond’s “The Air That I Breath” initially feels like an odd choice, but it just works. Maybe the most surprising song on the record is the metallic, almost industrial-tinged “Breakout,” but she pulls that off too.
The album is an absolute scorcher. Now if she’ll just avoid chainsaw-related accidents, we can hopefully keep her around for a lot longer.
Cherie Currie’s Blvds of Splendor is out now, available here.