CD Reviews

Bitch - 'Be My Slave' Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     September 07, 2011    
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A timely re-issue of the band's early material.

A timely re-issue of the band's early material, given their recent – and long overdue – success on the European festival circuit. LA quartet Bitch shot to fame at then start of the US metal boom, after vocalist Betsy's advert for "attractive female singer, unique stage presence, looking for hard rock/heavy metal band" was noticed by guitarist David Carruth and drummer Robby Settles. Grabbing more leather, studs, whips and chains than you could shake a stick at, and planting their tongues firmly in their collective cheeks, Bitch soon attracted a cult following with their pop-metal outings and S&M stageshow, and made their first vinyl appearance on Metal Blade's debut album, the 'Metal Massacre' compilation; given that the album included the likes of Ratt, Malice, Metallica and Steeler, they were in extremely good company at the time.

With great feedback about their track – the infamous 'Live For The Whip' – and a real buzz about the band's live shows, Bitch were offered a deal and the label's next release was the band's 1982 'Damnation Alley' EP, with their full-length debut 'Be My Slave' coming the following year. However, with a seemingly revolving door of bass players and an inability to tour widely Bitch hit a plateau at this point. By the time the next album 'The Bitch Is Back' was released the party was pretty much over, and the band never regained their initial popularity. Until now, that is.

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Although this CD, featuring the 'Damnation Alley' EP and the ensuing album (although presented in reverse order), was released on the cheap back at the end of the Eighties, the new version stomps all over its predecessor, both in terms of packaging and audio quality. The tracks been lovingly remastered and sound wonderful, the booklet is a much better piece of work, and this time around it comes with both a bonus track ('Let's Go', an outtake from the LP) and a DVD of old and new live footage. The 'Damnation Alley' EP is an odd handful of tracks, featuring a re-recording of 'Live For The Whip', two stormers in the title cut and opener 'Saturdays', the poppy 'Never Come Home' and the lyrically bizarre 'He's Gone' (eg "he split me, just because I wanted him to hit me") delivered in the style of a Broadway showstopper. A year later, the band's songwriting had matured considerably, and 'Be My Slave' should have received much greater acclaim than it did back in the day with songs like 'Make It Real (Make It Rock)' and 'Riding In Thunder' really stoking up the engine. 'Leatherbound' and 'In Heat' maintained the cheese factor, and 'Gimme A Kiss' upset conservatives right across America (no bad thing in itself) as the PMRC cited Bitch as a bad influence on the nation's youth – so it ticks all the boxes for me!

As a band Bitch were consummate players and great performers, and although Betsy will probably never go down in history as the world's greatest singer, but she was – and probably still is – a great frontperson. Bitch were never likely to change the world, but they are entertaining, and they do put a smile on your face. And at the end of the day, isn't that what it's all about?

John Tucker

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