FMQB Retro-Active: Ken Sharp Talks to Cherie Currie, and Reviews Live Releases From The Who and The Rolling Stones
July 30, 2015
LONG LIVE ROCK... New York's Shea Stadium is holy ground for rock and roll concerts with The Beatles famously playing the massive outdoor venue in 1965 and '66 followed five years later by Grand Funk Railroad. In 1982, The Who were embarking on a farewell tour, Pete Townshend tiring of decades of excess in the rock and roll circus and ready to bring their career to a full stop. The band was at the peak of their popularity having sold out two nights at Shea Stadium. Touring behind their latest album, It's Hard, a collection derided by critics as a half baked effort devoid of the band’s trademark firepower, one thing is for sure: The Who did not disappoint on the concert stage. This is amply evidenced by the magnificent and vital performance they delivered to the crowd on the new DVD, The Who - Live at Shea Stadium 1982 (Eagle Rock Entertainment). Opening with the trademark 1-2 punch of "Substitute" and "I Can't Explain," the set mined perennial favorites ("Behind Blue Eyes," "Baba O'Riley," "Pinball Wizard," "See Me, Feel Me," “Love Reign O’er Me,” “Who Are You,” “Won’t Get Fooled Again” with lesser played fare like the clutch of Quadrophenia gems (“The Punk Meets the Godfather,” “I’m One” and “Drowned”), “Tattoo” from 1968’s Sell Out, the Live at Leeds powerhouse “Young Man Blues” plus several cuts from It’s Hard that white out their studio counterparts: "Eminence Front," "Cry If You Want," "Dangerous" and the title track. Roger Daltrey is in particularly fine voice while Messrs. Pete Townshend and John Entwistle play with passion and power framed by drummer Kenney Jones’ punchy, razor sharp drumming. The band closed the two-hour show with sloppy but spirited renditions of The Beatles’ “I Saw Her Standing There,” “Twist and Shout” and Eddie Cochran’s “Summertime Blues.” The Who proved once again that this band is the gold standard by which all will be compared. Bonus tracks on the DVD include “Substitute,” “I Can’t Explain,” “My Generation,” “A Man Is A Man” and “5:15.”
SATISFACTION GUARANTEED… Another seminal venue in rock and roll history is London’s Marquee club, home to a host of rock legends in their formative years including the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Small Faces, The Who, Pink Floyd, Cream and countless others. The Rolling Stones were one of those bands that used the Marquee as a launching pad for their eventual commercial breakthrough. Returning to the club on March 26, 1971, the band played an intimate show to a packed audience of 150 people numbering fans, industry insiders and luminaries like Jimmy Page and Eric Clapton. Originally filmed for a U.K. TV show, The Rolling Stones: The Marquee Club Live in 1971 (Eagle Rock Entertainment), a new DVD/CD, is the latest installment in the band’s ongoing vault series. It’s a remarkably exciting document of a band at the peak of their powers as a live act, thanks to the incendiary six-string styling of new lead guitarist Mick Taylor. The band plows through a tight eight-song set, cherry picking songs from the soon to be releases Sticky Fingers album: "Brown Sugar," "Wild Horses," "Bitch,” “I Got The Blues” and “Dead Flowers” along with jewels “Live With Me,” Chuck Berry’s “Let It Rock” “Midnight Rambler” and “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.” Bonus features include two alternate takes of “I Got the Blues,” take one and two of “Bitch,” and a performance of “Brown Sugar” culled from Top of the Pops.
RETURN OF THE QUEEN OF NOISE… Through signature classics like “Cherry Bomb,” “American Nights” and “Neon Angels on the Road to Ruin,” a feathered peroxide haired teenager named Cherie Currie served as the voice of a generation of disenfranchised youth with The Runaways. Flash forward a few decades later and the original “cherry bomb” has mellowed and matured. Witness Reverie, her first solo album in 35 years, finds her reunited with Runaways band mate Lita Ford who sings background vocals on new renditions of Runaways gems, “Is It Day Or Night” and “American Nights.” However, it’s Cherie’s son, Jake Hays, who earns honors as the record's MVP, co-penning many of the tracks and lending muscular instrumentation to the entire record.
It’s been a long 35 years between solo albums, why the protracted delay?
I wrote music for years and even during my marriage with Bob (Hays) I wrote quite a few songs with a great writer named Tony Artino. We wrote music for soundtracks and movies and things like that. So I continued to write and to sing. But I did make a full album right after the Runaways movie came out with Joan (Jett). I made that record with Matt Sorum. We made that for Blackheart Records. It’s a really good record. It’s got Billy Corgan from the Smashing Pumpkins; he wrote a duet for us to do. We have the Veronicas on the record, Brody Dale and even the actress Juliette Lewis who came and sang on a Runaways song. We also had Matt Sorum, Duff (McKagan) and Slash playing on it as well. We do a song that was written by them. But the album was shelved, which was unfortunate.
Why was it shelved?
I’m not exactly sure. It took a back seat to everything for three years; I didn’t even get a record contract from Blackheart. After opening for Joan at the Pacific Amphitheater it just set everything off. I was offered a deal immediately. But I went with Blackheart Records and my album never came out. When it finally came time for Blackheart to sign me to a record contract years later, I had sat around for almost three years not playing and they didn’t want me to play. I just felt it was best that I part ways with them at that time.
Reverie is a family affair. Your son Jake plays a major part in the creation and recording of the record. Sharing music making, songwriting and recording with your son must be very rewarding.
He did a beautiful job. We moved form the studio where we had started to Jake’s studio in Malibu Lake. Jake was also writing for his band, Maudlin Strangers. Jake got a very lucrative record deal shortly after he had started my record. Poor kid, he was trying to balance doing his record and writing songs. Jake writes the songs, he produces them and he plays all the instruments. That’s a lot for one person and then to also have to do my record and finish it - that’s why it took a year to finish. I’m so proud of him. Jake toured with me on four separate tours. He worked on the record with Matt Sorum and he played with me when I opened for Joan Jett in front of 9,000 people. That was our very first show as a band with Nick Maybury, Grant Fitzpatrick and Matt Sorum on drums Jake’s been with me the whole time. Now that he’s got a record deal and he’s touring himself, I’m gonna have to replace him which is a sad thing. But this record was a true labor of love for Jake too. It was great to go to the studio and work with Jake and I wish we could have done it a little faster but he’s just one man. I think he just did a fantastic job.
Your former Runaways band mate Lita Ford also has a role on your new solo CD.
I was on tour when she reached out to me and asked if I wanted to do a duet with her on a Christmas single she had written with Mitch Perry. Of course, not only did it take me by surprise but I was thrilled that she would ask me to sing on a song that she had written. I flew in while I was on tour and drove directly to the studio form the airport. I heard this great song called “Rock This Christmas Down” and did a duet with her on this Christmas single. So actually it was Lita who reached out to me first to work with her and it was terrific. It was so exciting. I’d never sang with Lita before; Lita never sang in the Runaways. So that was a blast.
And you connected as real friends, as opposed to decades back being bickering teenagers stuck in a band together.
That was hard in the Runaways. We never really had a mediator. Had we had somebody, some adult woman that would at least help us work out some of our differences; you know we wound up clamming up and we never spoke about things. Kim (Fowley) would also pit us against each other. He thought it would give us an edge on stage not realizing that kind of stuff in the end causes great damage. Lita and I are really good friends now. It was great to be able to get to know her. She brought me out to do the M3 concert with her. Anything she asks me to do, I’ll always say yes. Then when I asked her if she would sing with me on the two Runaways songs I do on the album, she was happy to come in. To me it would have been preposterous to not ask her. She was in the band with me; I just would have felt weird. We had a blast.
Why did you choose to cut those two Runaways songs on the album, “Is It Day or Night” and “American Nights?"
Well, “American Nights” is one of my favorite Runaways songs. Also, I had asked the fans on Facebook before I went out on tour what their favorite Runaways songs were and I was quite surprised to find that “Is It Day or Night” was really a standout for a lot of the fans, so I put that into my show. It was really easy for us to record those tunes. Grant Fitzpatrick who played bass in my band, Nick Maybury who’s just an amazing guitar player and Jake played drums and we carved these songs out very quickly. It was very easy and they sound great. When Lita came in, though she’d never sang those songs in the Runaways, she just took to it and we got it down really fast. It was great.
Is there a song on Reverie that best represents Cherie Currie in 2015?
I’d choose the song “Believe,” which I wrote 19 years ago. I wrote that song at a time in my life where I felt everything was possible. I almost call it kind of an ode to Glen Campbell in a way with the French horns on it. Every time I hear that song it gives me hope. We all need hope in life. We have our ups and down, our peaks and our valleys. Sometimes in our business those valleys can be dark. So “Believe” is the one song that I think truly represents who I am. It’s a song that I’ll always love and always be proud of.