Sunday Old School: Lillian Axe
More groovy (SEE: melodic) versus glam (SEE: dramatic), Lillian Axe managed to recruit a loyal following without an abundance of commercial success. Often regarded as an underrated and unknown gem, the group continues to perform and record in obscurity. Their look (big hair and tight leather) grouped this band in with the glam bands of the eighties (and early nineties); however, the music of Lillian Axe still holds up, a major difference between Lillian Axe and other bands during this time. They are sort of the “indie” Edward Norton of metal that is if Edward Norton’s career had never blown up (at least for a few years), and if Norton was from The Big Easy.
Forming in New Orleans in 1983, it wouldn't be until 1987 when Stevie Blaze (guitar) and Danny King (drums) of Lillian Axe joined up with Ron Taylor (vocals), Jon Ster (guitar) and Rob Stratton of Stiff to form the new band. This new line-up managed to catch the attention of Ratt's manager and label MCA, which quickly led to a record deal and a self-titled debut with Robbin Crosby producing.
With both the self-titled debut and the ‘Love + War’ albums failing to chart; MCA quickly parted ways. Luckily, before parting, “Show a Little Love”, a single off ‘Love + War’, got a video that featured a woman with a bouncy ball and showcased the band in tight leather strutting across a stage. Between the sultry looks (from the band, not the girl), microphone twirling, and the big hair I’ve always found it difficult to follow the story line of the girl (who has a whistle) and the guy (who is wearing pedophile style glasses). I’m assuming that since the glasses are smashed (in the end) the message is that when there are hot girls around the world is a safer place.
Forward to 1991, which found Lillian Axe with a new label and new members in Darrin DeLatte (bass) and Gene Barnett (drums, ex-Dirty Looks). ‘Poetic Justice’ would prove to be the band's biggest commercial success backed by the singles "True Believer” and Badfinger cover, “No Matter What.” The latter, also gave us a video with a grandma delivering milk and cookies AND chasing eighties looking girls with an axe (FYI: grandma can also be found on the album cover for ‘Poetic Justice’). Their next album, ‘Psychoschizophrenia’ (with another new drummer, Tommy Scott) failed to capitalize on their previous success and after the promotional tour the band decided to lay Lillian Axe to rest . The year was 1995 and the only constant in the lineup was change.
Taylor formed The Bridge while Blaze went on to form Near Life Experience and Scott resurfaced in the popular Godsmack. Then in 1999 the band reformed at the request of overseas record labels and resulted in the album ‘Fields Of Yesterday.’ A revamped version of the band later emerged for 2007's new studio album ‘Waters Rising’, with Blaze, and new members Sam Poitevent(guitar), Eric Morris (bass), Ken Koudelka (drums) and Derrick LeFevre (vocals). Just prior the the release of 2010's ‘Deep Red Shadows’ it was announced that former Metal Chruch singer, Ronny Munroe would be replacing LeFevre who was no longer able to commit to the band's rigorous touring schedule. Also in 2010, the band became the first hard rock act to be inducted into the Louisiana Hall of Fame (take that Edward Norton).
In 2012, Lillian Axe released the band's ninth studio LP titled, ‘XI: The Days Before Tomorrow.’ The album features new vocalist Brian C. Jones, harder tracks, and was accompanied by a video for the first single, “Caged In.” As with listening to this song, watching this video takes you on a journey to see how much this group has changed. Old school fans of this band may not take to their new material, and vice versa, I’m sure new fans were born with the heavier sound.
Lillian Axe has represented the underdog and their revolving door of members has not made their fight easy. Still, they are heralded by many die-hard fans as one of the best of the genre. For non die-hard fans, Lillian Axe is a perfect band to go back to and give another listen. SUGGESTION: Try not to picture the hair and tight leather!
SHOW A LITTLE LOVE (VIDEO)
TRUE BELIEVER (LIVE)
TRUE BELIEVER (STRIPPED DOWN)
NO MATTER WHAT (VIDEO)
SHOW A LITTLE LOVE (LIVE)
CAGED IN (VIDEO)
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