Reverie - Cherie Currie
Back in the mid-70's, Joan Jett and eccentric producer/songwriter Kim Fowley walked into an all ages club in Hollywood looking for a singer. She had to sing a little bit yeah, but if she was hot they could probably work around those smaller details. They happened upon a 15-year old blonde bombshell named Cherie Currie. Kim and Joan, and Cherie herself for that matter, didn't really know if she could sing. Having no prior experience or formal training, she auditioned for the job with the sly and sultry classic, "Fever". Kim and Joan were looking for a more balls-to-the-wall rock song, so they wrote a raw fist-pumping anthem that toyed with the name of their young candidate. They wrote "Cherry Bomb" on the spot, Cherie sunk her teeth deep into the song, and the rest as they say is history. The Runaways were born. Cherie Currie was the prettiest face that hard rock had ever seen, and all kinds of doors fell opened for female rockers.
Fast forward and we still have a stunning blonde rock star - now 55 instead of 15 - and most of her audience has not heard her sing in over 35 years. I think the older fan wants more than a pretty face at this point, so the big question is can she bring some vocal prowess to a new set of songs? This is a question that gets answered in the very first song from Reverie. It's the title track, and it sent a shiver down my spine.
Written with her son Jake Hays, "Reverie" is a soaring, vocally driven song. My first thought was, this is the best vocal performance that she's ever recorded. She was an angst-ridden dynamo in her teen years with The Runaways, but her voice has matured into one with immense depth and shockingly great tone. The ten songs on this record may not be what you expect. Currie fronted a band that was all about being aggressive, naughty, and in-your-face. This record reminisces in that spirit a little bit, but much of what's here is finely crafted art more than teen angst.
Reverie is also the final work of Kim Fowley. Two Fowley-penned Runaways songs are covered here in the form of "Is It Day Or Night" and "American Nights" (with fellow Runaways bandmate Lita Ford lending her voice to both tracks). He is also featured as a co-writer on the songs "Dark World" (another track featuring Lita Ford), "Inner You," "I'm Happy," and "Queen Of The Asphalt Jungle". With the exception of "Queen Of The Asphalt Jungle," these songs are emotionally moody and lyrically deep with an intriguing sound that tends to be closer to Pink Floyd than to The Sex Pistols. "Queen Of The Asphalt Jungle" is more of what you might expect; a simpler hard rock song that has Currie taking on more of the rocker chick persona that she's famous for. And, although it's great to hear Currie return with solid rockers like "Queen Of The Asphalt Jungle," the majesty of this record lies in its maturity.
Jake Hays is a huge part of this record, offering his talents as songwriter on seven of the ten tracks. He also plays just about every instrument here, along with being producer or co-producer on the entire record. Jake Hays is Currie's son with actor Robert Hays, and it seems the talented bloodline has continued on in good fashion. One of my favorite tracks, "Shades Of Me," puts Hays' singing talents on display. Sounding a bit like Chris Martin of Coldplay, "Shades Of Me" is a duet with tons of texture. A nice slide guitar part from Mitch Perry makes this one of the more unique pieces on the record. "Inner You," a song written by Hays and Currie with Kim Fowley, is another mature song that lives with you after a few listens. But, it's a song called "Believe" that really shows the growth of Cherie Currie and her instrument. "Believe" is a well written song with a beautifully lush orchestral arrangement and a tremendous vocal part from Currie. I must also mention the standout quality of the overall sound of the record. Hays does a fine job producing, and Brant Biles should be applauded for his re-mixing and engineering of the material. Biles has worked with everyone from Stevie Wonder and Bonnie Raitt to Lisa Loeb and Gwar, and he lays down a mix here that has every element shining as brightly as possible.
The wait to hear this return of Cherie Currie was a brutal form of torture for Runaways fans. We've had great Joan Jett songs, and Lita Ford has done her share of solo work over the years, but there has always been an emptiness to it all for the purest of Runaways fans. Cherie Currie was our Cherry Bomb, our blonde bombshell, and we wanted to hear from her. With her autobiography, Neon Angel: The Memoir Of A Runaway, inspiring the Runaways biopic, we were able to ride along with Currie on a life adventure that saw her go through Hell and back many times over. Now it's time to ride with her on the next journey. A journey that starts with a great record called Reverie.