Brijitte West And The Desperate Hopeful “S/T”

“I’ve been bitter, I’ve been twisted/I had my big chance and I missed it…”The exceptionally dazzling, Brijitte West, was the Undisputed Queen of the “Last Call” NYC Post-Glam, Rock’n’roll Scene, back in the early 90’s, when the Big-Three Entertainment Corporations were elbowing groups like Pillbox, Circus Of Power, the Lunachicks, the Waldos, the Throbs, and D-Generation aside, to make way for grunge, trust-funded novelty acts, and conspicuous-consumption oriented, sterilized, commercialized hip-hop.
As leader of the much exalted underground sensations, NY LOOSE, the bewitching Brijitte, had effortlessly, seduced the D.I.Y. punk’n’roll underground, with several whiz-bang 45’s, and a memorable appearance on the cover of FLIPSIDE MAGAZINE, that graced “more bedroom-walls than paint”, before promptly, going on to sign with some major-label. NY LOOSE toured with Alice Cooper and Marilyn Manson, and made a big-budget video to accompany their presence on the soundtrack to “The Crow”. I saw her absolutely tear it up, while on tour of the mid-west with the notorious, Rev. Horton Heat, about twelve years ago, and was impressed by how hard she rocked.
The Desperate Hopefuls are a totally different thing, though. Nobody’s trying to be crossover-metal, here. It’s more like a burger and fries throwback to the glorious heyday of the Ramones, or Holly And The Italians!
Like a heavenly cross between Edie Sedgwick and Joan Jett, her return to rock’n’roll seems perfectly timed to appeal to anyone who purchased a ticket to see that movie about “THE RUNAWAYS”. She was our generation’s original “Suicide Girls” pin-up kitten. I know I dragged that Flipside cover from apartment to apartment, from town to town, for well over ten years, and it’s probably still in storage, with my notebooks and old demo-cassettes….BRIJITTE WEST has been favorably compared to Wendy James, Penelope Houston, Deborah Harry, Jeni Foster from Princess Pang, that All-Girl Band, Fluffy, and Brody from the Distillers…but really, there was no one like Brijitte, before or since, and she easily might have become one of the biggest stars in the world, as it would not have taken much proper promotion for her to have eclipsed Madonna, Natalie Imbruligia, or Courtney Love, or any ex-members of the original Guns N Roses, back in her NY LOOSE days, except, for what some have referred to as, the corporatist, “Anti-Rock Conspiracy”. American’s have suffered an onslaught of really awful, vapid, bullshit, corporate pop for ten, or twenty years now, with the tight restricting of radio play-lists, the relentless mergers and big-media monopolies, and the steady vanquishing of authentic rock music from retail-stores, radio, and MTV.
Recent years have seen real rock’n’roll all but banished, ghettoized, to second-stage status, at overpriced rock festivals, over here. Obscenely absent from the charts. Almost invisible in America. They even shut-down C.B.G.B.’s….
Brijitte ain’t nursing anymore misguided major-label ambitions with the Hopefuls, that’s for sure. Instead, she’s made a Fan-Club record for the hardcore faithful. This is her rock’n’roll love letter to YOU!
Lotsa dese chunes are short and sugary, like the Heartbreakers, or Mini-Skirt Mob, sixties girl groups, or The Sweet!!! FANTASTIC! Fun stuff….”Mess Of Myself” is awesome teen-pop, a bit like the Eye-Liners, out of New Mexico. All those Waldos shows she witnessed, back in the day, really seemed to sink-in, here. What’s cool is how she can REALLY sing when she wants to, but mostly, she’s here to rock, not exercise her vocal chops, y’know? Really good bubble-gum punk with an obvious sincerity. “Bitter And Twisted” is beautiful, people. I did NOT expect to like this even half as much as I do! Some wonderful songs on here. “Long Island Lolita” is way, way, catchier than any of that syrupy stuff cynical song-doctors write for the Disney Tarts, pop-ska-models, commercial country waifs, and R&B blow-up dolls, in the States, nowadays!
Having collaborated with various members of the Throbs, Ramones, Circus Of Power, White Zombie, Stiv Bator’s Evil Boys, Electric Angels, and Black Halos, Brijitte wisely moved to England in recent years, and took some time-off, to nurture her family. Her latest disc, “Brijitte West And The Desperate Hopefuls” marks her long-anticipated return to the lime-light. A woman as uncommonly attractive as Brijitte can do whatever she wants. Fortunately for all of us us die-hard fans of flashy, trashy, punk’n’roll, what this radiant, rock-revivalist wants, apparently, is to kick-start a new wave of underground, trashy, punk rock revolution. The thing about songwriters is they can only get better with age. Her lyrics are stronger than ever. She’s penned some lusty, personal, lovesongs here, that are almost as sexy as vintage Divinyls. (“Hey Papito”, “Hard To Believe”, and “All Roads Lead To You”…) I hope she’s sent a copy of this to “Little Steven’s Underground Garage” radio-show!
Like you and I, she struggles with sinister urges and conflicted impulses, ‘wants a slice of greasy St. Mark’s pizza, and doesn’t know how to shaddup and just be “good”. Nice girls don’t play rock’n’roll. Several of her new tunes reflect her struggle to gracefully balance her responsibilities, with her history, creativity, and that relentless, show-people call-of-the-wild: that yearning for the stage, roar of the crowd, etc., etc., that never fades away. She’s a true entertainer, she’s got it in her blood. She’s experiencing the disharmony of her own divided loyalties, the friction between family and fame, of transitioning from ingenue to matriarch, and her refusal to let her dreams die, to merely become a dull-eyed, lumpen housewife in a “Swiffer Wet-Jet” commercial. Several tunes also display a high-volume conscience, and self-awareness…not always, characteristics that are typically present, with someone so heartbreakingly beautiful. She has empathy, and is seemingly endeavoring to own her mistakes, and face up to the sometimes startling effects she has on others. Her lyrics are really potent on most of the new songs. (“I was unaware of the state I was in/You put the needle back to start the record again…”) Then, at the end, in an adolescent relapse, a fit of artistic fury, she shrugs off the shackles of the whole rat-race guilt trip, with the snotty and emboldened, “It’s Not My Fault”. It’s an encouraging sign, when one of the most desirable women on the planet chooses to continue forth, making this heart-on-her-sleeve type of emotional, sincere, sleazy, underground, upbeat, glamour punk.
‘Cause, essentially, she’s doin’ it for us, kids…all the gutter-snipes and “Velvet Goldmine” true believers! A couple of her newest songs allow us to glimpse her sentimental side, her sweetness, abiding sense of duty, and gnawing sense of regret when she errors, or lets the team down. “How To Be Good” is really lovely. A Charmer! This album allows us an intimate peek into the life of an aging rock’n’rollin’ dreamer, trying to face herself, stay true to her higher ideals, reclaim her personal sovereignty, cease all the fruitless second-guessing, and determine what she wants to do with the rest of her time on the planet. She has dueling instincts, like John Lennon did. Part of her, most-values the staying home to read “Goodnight Moon”, and bake bread, but there’s another part of her that feels the pulsing throb of the highway’s call, the train-song, the throbbing pulse of the neon lights beckoning her back to the lip of the stage. There’s some snarling, mid-tempo pop, and some slinky ballads. Several songs rock as hard and nasty as Dictators, Donnas, Buck Cherry, or Stereo Junks. “How To Be Good” features guest-vox from the Mayor Of Coney Island High, Jesse Malin. This album TOTALLY surpasses all expectations.
It’s just so heart-felt and listenable. I think she’s been listening to “Alternative Chartbusters” by THE BOYS, Campus Tramps, and 16 Forever! This record isn’t for everybody. It’s only for the people who love courageous, sexy, rebellious, filthy, defiant, meaningful, sincere, daring, soul-baring, dirty, low down, and high flyin’ rock’n’roll. Hey. Ya wanna get a milkshake ‘n’ go roller-skating?
(-Anguish Young)