PAT BENATAR, the chanteuse who’s straddled a blues and rock career that boasts 10 records (six platinum, four gold), returns to rock ‘n’ roll with the release today of “Gravity’s Rainbow” via Chrysalis Records.The album is Benatar’s vision (by way of Thomas Pynchon) of the potentially apocalyptic future mankind has created, set to appropriately emotional lyrics and aggressive hard rock music. Benatar’s vocal prowess and writing talents are showcased on the up-tempo, bass-driven first single “Everybody Lay Down”; the tribute to forgotten souls “Somebody’s Baby”; and the ballad “Every Time I Fall Back.” The many-textured tunes also showcase the fretwork of husband/co-writer/album producer Neil Giraldo, joined by bassist Frank Linx and drummer Myron Grombacher. Although touring plans are in the works, they aren’t solidified. The album’s release was preceded by several promotional shows in pivotal cities, including a stop at the Whisky in Los Angeles. “It was so hot and so loud,” Benatar enthused. “We hadn’t played a rock ‘n’ roll club in 15 years. It was very intense.” L.A. SEEN: The T.J. Martell Foundation for Leukemia, Cancer and AIDS Research honored living-legend guitarist Les Paul with a “Heart of Music” award at a fete held at the Gene Autry Western Heritage Museum in Los Angeles. The tribute was part of the 11th annual Rock ‘N Charity Celebration, a week of bowling tournaments, softball games and golfing that involved a number of personalities in film, music and television. A silent auction was held and the items up for bid included Andrew “Dice” Clay’s impossibly bright green and sparkly 1970 Cadillac convertible (from the movie “The Adventures of Ford Fairlane”), a year’s worth of passes to MTV’s “Unplugged” performances, artwork by Peter Max, and a Gibson Les Paul guitar autographed by both the man himself and Paul McCartney. Food at the Paul tribute was served buffet-style, and was provided by a number of area restaurants. The ceremonies and celebrity jam were held on the vast lawn of the museum after dark. How great it was to hear Les Paul himself do “St. Louis Blues” and a staggering version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” after receiving his award, joined on guitar by Jeff “Skunk” Baxter. Circulating through the crowd were Dwight Twilley, surf guitar king Dick Dale (who just released a new CD on Hightone Records, “Tribal Thunder”), session man and Holly & the Italians member Dave Provost, Tommy Tedesco, DJ Art LaBoe (wearing a spiffy gold satin jacket and 10-gallon hat), Lawrence Juber of Wings, and “Gilligan’s Island” and “Brady Bunch” creator Sherwood Schwartz. SANDI PATTI hasn’t released an album in four years, and admits that for the past two she has been “fine tuning” her latest effort, “Le Voyage,”‘ which hit stores May 25. The successful Contemporary Christian music artist has put together a theme album that describes life’s ups and downs — something that the five-time Grammy winner knows about firsthand. Patti’s marriage to her manager John Helvering recently ended, and her business manager/attorney Sam Chappell is under investigation by the FBI for allegedly diverting funds that were meant for Patti and another client, fellow Contemporary Christian artist Carman, to his own account. In addition, Patti’s Anderson, Ind., office was destroyed by arson during the new album’s production. But the new disc signals Patti’s return in a big way. It features a wide range of material, with tracks suitable for almost every radio format. A 60 -piece orchestra adorns two of the disc’s tracks. Save for the barely perceptible religious leanings, they could rival anything produced by Barbra Streisand. “The Christian community may not want it to be called a Christian album,” Patti admits, referring to the album’s pop feel. She allows that her new sound may throw her Gospel-rooted fans for a loop, but she hopes they’ll give it a chance. “I’d like to keep the faithful audience along with the new fans. But I also hope the album opens some doors that were previously closed to me.” She says that some of the well-known talkshows remain reluctant to book her because she is considered a gospel artist with a limited appeal. In addition to the album, Word Records is turning up the promotional heat, joining forces with its publishing corporate parent, Word Inc., to hype the release of a storybook penned by the artist that sports the same title as the album. The disc/book package will be offered along with a video of the first single, “Hand on My Shoulder.” While the Word Records contingent works the Contemporary Christian marketplace, the label’s distribution deal with Epic will see to it that Patti’s album secures a presence on the pop charts. Patti says that instead of touring traditional arenas, she would like to develop a stage show to support the album. “I’d like to perform it in a sort of Off-Broadway style, in venues like the Pantages in L.A. But I don’t think that will happen until the spring of ’94. I’ve got a lot of groundwork to lay before then.” THE FIRST-EVER Los Angeles appearance by notorious performance artist and self-proclaimed “scum-rocker” G.G. Allin was, as many predicted, a no-show. Allin, legendary for such antics as defecating on stage and flinging feces at the crowd, attacking women at knife-point in mid-song, and spending the bulk of this decade in prison for assault, actually did arrive alive at the Hong Kong Cafe in Chinatown for a sold-out show on May 21. But when the singer found the gear provided to be inadequate, he threw a massive tantrum. When the second-billed Duchess DeSade offered to loan Allin their gear for $ 250, Allin punched lead singer Barbara Planek in the face; her bandmate Kitten Eisenhower then returned the favor with a blow to Allin’s face. Eisenhower was pulled off by security and the DeSade clan took their equipment away. After about an hour, the Hong Kong was shut down. Allin then moved over to Raji’s, another L.A. nightspot, where club booker Tequila Mockingbird refused to allow him to perform. “You aren’t (defecating) on my stage,” said Mockingbird. No comment from Allin’s camp yet, and the Desade crew are mulling the possibility of pressing charges. Kids today! WHAT IS A BUBBLE HEAD? It’s the name of a new funk “supergroup” whose three core members are producer/DJ Afrika Islam, rapper Melle Mel and Parliament’s Keith LeBlanc. Satellite members and guests on the group’s first recorded effort , in progress at the moment, include Neneh Cherry, Sinead O’Connor, Ice-T and Body Count, Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Ice Cube, members of Bozaque, Norwood of Fishbone, and Living Colour members Doug Wimbish, William Calhoun and Vernon Reid. The core band members expect to tour this summer and have the project ready for a fall release.
Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more