Edmonton Journal - October 11, 1994

Aaron still trying to shake pinup image:

Lee Aaron

Where: Thunderdome, 9933 63rd Ave.

When: Tonight and Wednesday, 9 p.m., doors at 6

Tickets: $15, at Thunderdome. Call 433-DOME.

There's a hellhound on singer Lee Aaron's trail, and it's her own image.

A dark shadow she can't escape, its disembodied voice whispers the words ``metal queen'' at the most inopportune moments.

Metal Queen was the title -- and title song -- of Aaron's second album, released back in 1983. Today, five albums later, the Canadian rocker talks about those two loaded words as ``the tag that haunts me.''

Aaron and her band play the Thunderdome tonight and Wednesday.

Speaking by phone Friday from Prince George, B.C., Aaron patiently explains how she's been trying to break away from her rock pinup image for much of the last decade.

She doesn't mind it if people like her for her looks -- ``every woman wants to be seen as attractive'' -- but is desperate for her music to be taken seriously.

``I have really felt pigeonholed into this `rock babe' thing,'' she says.

``Metal Queen was six albums ago but there's still some sort of expectation that comes with the name Lee Aaron.''

Listen to Aaron's newest album, Emotional Rain, and you won't hear anything approaching heavy metal. Lots of medium-hard commercial rock -- like the first two singles, Odds of Love and Baby Go Round -- but no metal. And enough ballads to keep the radio programmers happy.

She's winning praise in reviews for showing new artistic depth and maturity with the music and the lyrics. Her singing shows new range.

``I discovered that you can have as much power and impact with your voice without going full-out all the time.''

Aaron says the track that says the most about her as an artist circa 1994 is Waterfall, mostly because it doesn't sound like anything she's done before. Part rock, part Euro-pop, it will be interesting to see if it has potential as a single.

The CD comes after Aaron's name had been absent from the new-release shelves for three years. Her last album, Some Girls Do, did well, hitting the gold sales plateau (50,000 copies sold) in just five weeks.

But Aaron wasn't thrilled with the way her label, Attic Records, promoted that disc and its first single, Sex With Love. A marketing campaign traded on her sexy image when she wanted to promote her music.

``I have nothing really negative to say about Attic,'' she says, for the record. ``But it was a case of been there, done that. I don't have the bank account of Bryan Adams, but I've done OK.''

Sensing a need to make some changes in her life, she got out of her deal with Attic. In short order she started her own record label, Hipchic Music Inc., put together a new band and separated from her husband.

``Everything came crashing in at once,'' Aaron says. ``I kicked him out and left the label. I thought if I'm going to change the course of events, it has to happen now.''

At the time, all she could see around her was turmoil. But looking back, she says she did what she had to do.

``I like to think that I'm a survivor.''

Aaron stresses that she hasn't left old hits like Whatcha Do To My Body out of her live shows. She doesn't want to alienate old fans.

Her new band includes guitarist and longtime collaborator John Albani, and ``the three Dons,'' three former members of the late Vancouver band Sons of Freedom. Don Binns plays bass, Don Short is the drummer and Don Harrison plays guitar.

``Let me tell you,'' Aaron says, ``these guys are ferocious players.''

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