Vixen Vixen  (EMI) 1988

1.      Edge of a Broken Heart (4:25)
2.      I Want You to Rock Me (3:31)
3.      Cryin' (3:32)
4.      American Dream (4:20)
5.      Desparate (4:17)
6.      One Night Alone (3:50)
7.      Hell Raisers (4:27)
8.      Love Made Me (3:18)
9.      Waiting (3:12)
10.     Cruisin'  (4:24)
11.     Charmed Life (4:06)

Vixen is an all-female, hard rock band from California, USA. They are often referred to as a hair metal band, moreso from their look than from their sound. For the most part Vixen were slickly produced, lightweight 80's rock. They never really cross over into heavy metal terrain. Rather, Vixen's debut was perfectly formulated for the hordes of MTV darlings in the late 80's. The look combined with the slick production and a whole lot of promotion paid off as the Richard Marx-penned album opener "Edge of a Broken Heart" climbed up the singles charts. The album ended up producing several hit singles including "Edge of a Broken Heart", "Cryin'" and "Love Made Me".

Vixen's debut is definitely a product of the times. Their sound is a combination of 80's Heart with equal parts Bon Jovi and mid-80's Def Leppard. The songs are all fairly catchy, guitarist Jan Kuehnemund can crank out a nasty guitar lick and vocalist Janet Gardner has a sexy, smooth as silk voice that compliments the music. That sex appeal is a big part of their allure. Otherwise, it's fairly formulaic and predictable; happy, sing-along party rockers, melodic, mid-paced hard rock and the mandatory power ballads. Of course, Vixen aren't really a band anyone is going to listen to for musical experimentation or for macho heavy metal. The point was to create some enjoyable, sexy, radio-friendly hard rock, and that's exactly what Vixen deliver.

Tales of Ordinary Madness Vixen - Rev it Up (EMI) 1990

1.      Rev it Up (5:00)
2.      How Much Love (4:40)
3.      Love is a Killer (4:43)
4.      Not a Minute Too Soon (4:26)
5.      Streets in Paradise (4:32)
6.      Hard 16  (4:05)
7.      Bad Reputation (4:09)
8.      Fallen Hero  (5:17)
9.      Only a Heartbeat Away (5:07)
10.    It Wouldn't Be Love (4:42)
11.    Wrecking Ball (5:10)

"Rev It Up" is the second album by American all-female rockers Vixen. It was actually my first real exposure to Vixen back in the day. (Pretty sure I remember seeing these gals on "Decline of the Western Civilization 2" first.) I heard this album when it was a fairly new release and my reaction was basically that they sounded a lot like Heart did in the 80's. A friend once described them to me as a cross between Heart and Bon Jovi. That's actually a fairly accurate description. Vixen were basically an 80's hair band, but they never quite rocked as hard or as heavy as many of their contemporaries. Rather, they went towards a more corporate/pop oriented sound. Laced with those1980's keyboards and a squeaky clean production that robbed the band of what could have been a much heavier sound. However, that's not to slight their talent. The girls of Vixen could play their instruments, but it's just all a bit too "nice". Holding this up against hard rockers like Joan Jett, Girlschool or even early Lita Ford and Vixen are clearly more clean and pop oriented. The two tracks that really stood out to me is the rock and roll anthem "Rev It Up" and the melodic semi-ballad "Love is A Killer". I would imagine that if Heart has recorded "Love is A Killer" it would have been a huge hit in 1990. "Fallen Hero" and "Wrecking Ball" are two of the heavier songs on the album. "Bad Reputation" is not the Thin Lizzy song of the same name, though that would have been cool to hear.

Tangerine Vixen - Tangerine (CMC International) 1998

1.   Page (4:36)
2.   Tangerine (4:32)
3.   Never Say Never (3:39)
4.   Peace (4:59)
5.   Barely Breathin' (4:13)
6.   Bleed (4:00)
7.   Stay (5:35)
8.   Shut Up (4:05)
9.   Machine (3:43)
10. Air Balloon (3:53)
11. Can't Control Myself (4:35)
12. Outro [instrumental] (1:59)

Tangerine is the third album by American pop metal band Vixen. "Tangerine" was the band's first recording in eight years and featured original members Janet Gardner (vocals) and Roxy Petrucci (drums) along with Gina Stile and bass player Mike Pisculli. With "Tangerine" the band went for a different sound from the music of their two previous albums. Whereas those albums were glossy, 1980's pop rock, "Tangerine" is definitely an attempt at a more 1990's sound. I've read some reviews that describe it as a grunge record. While that sound is certainly an influence on Vixen, it's not pure grunge as it sounds nothing like the big grunge bands on the 1990's. Rather, "Tangerine" is more straight-forward hard rock with a 1990's production and a slight alternative bend. Album opener "Page" definitely has a big grunge influence. Actually this song at it's opening moment reminded me of Kiss "Carnival of Souls" album. Other songs sound less grunge-influences. "Stay" is a jazzy track and with some nice harmony vocals. The album ends with a jazzy instrumental. Overall, however, "Tangerine" is definitely an attempt at staying relevant in a time when Vixen's former brand of pop rock was considered a joke by the masses. However, for an updated sound, Vixen do it surprisingly well. Compared to attempts by contemporaries such as Dokken, Def Leppard and Guardian who released albums with an 'updated sound', Vixen do it so much better.

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