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Maxine Petrucci - Back To The Garden

Maxine Petrucci
Back To The Garden
by Michael "MettleAngel" Francisco at 25 March 2013, 9:17 AM

The wicked rag doll Maxine Petrucci reserves the right to rock, so she is back for a third round with her new album which contains a whole secret garden of unknown pleasures. It has been five years since her last effort, and she has recruited some new musicians, including the simmering vocal and guitar talent of Rachel May, who really cooks and adds a new ingredient to the repast.

Rachel May's flowery voice is thankfully not operatic like so many female front-women; although at times it is a bit whiny, yet still whimsical. However it is not strident either, which seems to be another trend. She performs with a Classic Rock ethic, but also allows for that rebellious angst legitimized by the likes of GIRLSCHOOL, L7, BABES IN TOYLAND, and now reborn in the spirit of SISTER SIN, CRUCIFIED BARBARA, CELLBOUND, and BARBE-O-BARBIES.

Maxine Petrucci's guitar style is not out of whack, but it is pretty erratic at times. She obviously is very talented, and can play a variety of styles. She is not OTT Classical like THE GREAT KAT or Kate French of CHASTAIN, but she is not just rockin' either like LITA FORD or Lizzy Hale. In fact, I would compare her more to the late Michelle Meldrum, and at times the album resembles the songwriting of PHANTOM BLUE's stellar release “Built To Perform”. Other similar acts of this attitude and form would be LEATHER ANGEL, MEANSTREAK (which featured John Petrucci's wife), and SLEDGE LEATHER or even HELLION.

I should notes that Maxine was originally in the East Coast Glam act MADAM X who had the hit “High In High School” in the '80s. Another interesting fact is that her sister Roxy from L.A.'s well-known VIXEN played on her first album “Titania” and offered her talents on the sophomore effort “Don't Hate Me”.

The rest of the line-up is rounded out by Pat DeLeon on drums that also play in IMMINENT SONIC DESTRUCTION (formerly MELLOTRON). Belligerent bassist Bryan once played in MILES BEYOND.

The album begins on a strong note with “WTF”. The title track “Back To The Garden” begins with an almost Disney Princess score suggestion, but quickly evolves into the psychedelic tone of Woodstock and the hippie era of the late '60s. These “Peace & Love” stardust memories remind me of JEFFERSON STARSHIP. It appears that Rachel even attempts to imitate Grace Slick.

“Out Of Whack” has a more modern, updated groove and crunch, while ”Assassinate” is a bit more aggressive. Then the flute in Wicked” clearly calls to mind the magical and mystical qualities of JETHRO TULL. The sappy and surrealistic pillowed fluff of “Pink Angels” reminds me of the way in which Linda Perry sings with 4 NON BLONDES. In fact this whole album feel like a bad acid trip, clearly epitomized in “Youth Gone By”.

I am a little ungrateful for the dead beat bite of “Ginger Man”. I know it is homage to the great Classic Rock vibe of THE WHO and especially their guitarist. I am currently reading Pete Townsend's revealing biography "Who I Am". I just wish this song had more of a “Who's Next” hooligan texture or a “Meaty, Big, And Bouncy” shape and verve. Sure it adds the music of “My Generation”, minus the stuttering, but where is the “We Won't Get Fooled Again” aesthetic?

This album begins on such a strong note, but then tends to peter out toward the end. I feel like I am listening to SMITH & PYLE the Hollywood dame fame / femme fatale Country Rock styling of cult actresses Shawnee Smith and Missy Pyle (both of whom have been linked with Charlie Sheen).

What the F*@# is “Harsh My Gig” even about? I am so confounded! I wish I was more familiar with Maxine's other two solo efforts. Overall, this does have some merit, and if you are seeking a break from the inundating female fronted fashion dolled up madness, at least this album provides a salmagundi of delicious delights.

3 Star Rating

1. WTF
2. Back to the Garden
3. Out of Whack
4. Assassinate
5. Wicked
6. Pink Angels
7. Youth Gone By
8. Ginger Man
9. Sacred
10. Harsh My Gig
Rachel May – Vocals / Guitars
Maxine Petrucci – Bass / Guitars / Vocals
Bryan Paxton – Bass
Pat DeLeon – Drums
Record Label: Independent


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