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Saturday, April 19, 2008

Underappreciated Slabs Saturday: Doro - Calling the Wild

It's no secret I'm partial to Doro Pesch. Having interviewed the still-reigning Queen of Metal three times including a memorable face-to-face last summer in Virginia, my respect for this endurant lady of the realm has grown (grown up being questionable) from that hormonally entranced teen headbanger of the eighties. Like most of us disaffected grits and slobs of the original metal scene, we all entertained massive crushes on the Teutonic femme fatale who once led genre favorites Warlock. In transit between being dumped by my high school sweetheart and those I dated later, I'll admit to having a brief infatuation with Doro, and yes, I was goofy enough to tell her so in our first interview. Of course, when you've been in the business for over two decades and still possess the beauty and moreover, the grace that has carried you as monarch over of a fringe culture, I feel safe in saying I wasn't the first guy to come clean to her about a silly, rigamarole crush.

What I like best about Doro is her gentle and kind persuasion. To this day nobody has melted my heart with her mere speaking voice like Doro has on three occasions now. To interview Doro is truly an experience in the human connection. If anyone out there lives for the moment and genuinely appreciates those who sustain her career, it's inarguably Doro Pesch. Album after album the queen finds ways to slip love letters into her music and she'll be the first to tell you her ballads aren't aimed towards one specific person; Doro addresses her fans when she gets all sweet on us musically. Truly this industry warrior belongs to the world and not one person, if not even herself. In other words, Doro is genuine.

Though her first solo album after departing Warlock Force Majeure gained her nationwide attention and acclaim, the sad fact like most heavy metal acts that once prospered in North America is that the majority were forgotten and swept into the reminiscence cabinet, to be brought out on occasion over brews and barbecues amongst former Gen X headbangers. "Remember that chick Doro Pesch and Warlock? Dude, she was hot!" Sound familiar?

Well, Doro has stayed hot over the years but in terms of maintaining a music career in an already competitive business for males alone, this continuously aspirant lady has had to fight for the rock in her native European regions while being flat-out ignored in the country where she's recorded a lot of her albums over the years, the United States.

2000's Calling the Wild was one of those albums. In one of our chats, Doro mentioned that a number of her albums were recorded in the U.S. but frustratingly never released here. As an official New York resident these days, how frustrating must it be to pour your heart into your work and have it shipped overseas where the only way to get it back from its originating spot is through the import trade?

Though Doro is enjoying (finally) a small revival in North America courtesy of her most recent album Warrior Soul, a lot of solid releases by the never-say-die German vocalist such as Fight, Love Me In Black and Calling the Wild have been delegated to diehard collector pieces that have fetched top dollars in certain avenues.

Calling the Wild is an album out of time, granted, but other things being equal, there's no reason it shouldn't have been given proper due and respect. Amongst other notables (namely a guest list including Slash, Lemmy Kilmister and Al Pitrelli), at this point in time, Doro had lost her father and she was carrying an emotional burden she relayed to me in Virginia as being one of her darkest hours. Doro then told me the story about how Lemmy Kilmister rang her up shortly after her father's passing and essentially revived her spirits. Doro used the word "rock" when mentioning Lemmy, not necessarily of the music variety, but of the spiritually-grounding nature.

Doro's friendship with Lemmy is well-known and it's loaded in full on Calling the Wild. The famed Motorhead bassist is certainly a creative spark for Doro on this album, not just because of the duet he shares with her on "Love Me Forever" (a song that creeps into both Doro's sets as well as Motorhead's) and not just because of "Alone Again," which Lemmy co-penned and lays down an acoustic solo (!) for. Lemmy's mere presence behind-the-scenes of Calling the Wild lends the project a cumulative effect from which Doro breathes and revitalizes herself.

The album radiates of the grief Doro was feeling during the time it was recorded on heavy mashers like "Now Or Never," (which Slash lays down a slick, prolonged solo that carries well into the final chorus) "Pain" and "I Give My Blood (Dedication)" as well the snyth-driven soul searching ballads "Give Me a Reason" and "Scarred." Of the ballads on Calling the Wild, it's the acoustic-guided "Constant Danger" where Doro relinquishes her agony and plays the role of seductress as she does to romantic measures on future songs like "Love Me in Black," "I'm In Love With You" and "Let Love Rain On Me."

On the face, Calling the Wild is an entertaining rock engine driven on pumping blocks such as "I Wanna Live," "Terrovision," "Kiss Me Like a Cobra," "Fuel" and the Warlock-esque "Burn It Up." Beneath the surface, however, Calling the Wild is a therapy piece in which our beloved Doro literally exorcises and expunges personal demons that she admits nearly destroyed her. Calling the Wild is an emotional listen if you know the story behind it.

Hearing Doro literally draw strength and heal through "Scarred," "Pain," "Give Me a Reason" and "I Wanna Live" is worth the invested time. The fact this album, like many of Doro's records got carted out of the country it was recorded in perfectly illustrates the shabby and impersonal nature of American music market values. For the artist herself, at least Calling the Wild helped her move into the third decade of her inspiring career.


Rhodeislandrock said...

Thanks Ray, now I have to go pull this out and give it a listen! I bought this way back when and it's a solid record. I like 'Love Me Forever' w/Lemmy & 'Kiss Me Like A Cobra'.....the whole album is good but I could do without the Billy Idol cover of 'White Wedding'.

2 versions of this (U.S. & Euro), I have to see which one I have.

Heavy Metal Addiction

Ray Van Horn, Jr. said...

yeah, I didn't want to spoil the flow of this piece with the "White Wedding" cover. I'm not so fond of it, but I also know Doro was just having fun and she has a real love of rockout music, so you just have to let her be in this instance, lol...

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