BEBE BUELL HAS A HIT AND IS SUNG ABOUT
Bebe Buell has had a lot of successes in her life, but she wasn’t prepared for this one: newly minted hit pop group Chester French has a single they’ve made in her honor. In “Bebe Buell.” the very popular pair of Harvard grads– DA Wallach and Max Drummey – sings a joyous love song to Buell, the knockout mother of actress Liv Tyler, best selling memoirist (the book “Rebel Heart”), legendary as a Ford model and Playboy playmate, and inspiration for the Penny Lane character in the great Cameron Crowe film, “Almost Famous.”
The timing of Chester French’s hit is serendipitous. Buell has always performed with her own rock band, and made a couple of well regarded albums in the 80s. But recently she and husband Jim Wallerstein and musician partner Bobbie Rae (of Twinomatick) set out to make a landmark CD, her own sort of “Broken English,” the album that cemented Marianne Faithfull’s career years ago.
The result is “Musesque,” a CD of songs she’s going to shop later this summer. Right now, the first single, “Air Kisses for the Masses,” is shaping up as a hit on ITunes and Amazon’s MP3 library. You can hear it at www.bebebuell.org or at myspace.com/bebebuellband.
The guys from Chester French, who are playing tonight in New York at the Steve Madden store and have a bunch of dates in the city over the next couple of weeks, are looking forward to meeting Buell. “She’s the gold standard in rock,” DA Wallach told me of Buell, for what was referred to in “Almost Famous” as muses. Buell’s rock relationships have included Steven Tyler, Todd Rundgren, and Elvis Costello.
“Air Kisses for the Masses,” though, shows off a tough pop sensibility married with a catchy hook and a strong melody. Buell’s vocal recalls the best of Faithfull, Chrissie Hynde, and Genya Ravan, all rolled into one. If they still had hit radio for people over 12, “Air Kisses” would be number 1. Buell and her band will debut the single and some more new material in May at the annual Joey Ramone birthday memorial in New York.
Chester French, meantime, is an oddity. They’re like the new, even cooler Weezer, or, if you’re old, Sparks, or They Might Be Giants.. (You can see the jolly, hummable “Bebe Buell” at http://www.interscope.com/artist/news/default.aspx?nid=21275&aid=587). Even though the group is pop rock, they’re Pharrell Williams‘ StarTracks label. DA told me the group was discovered by Kanye West, of all people. “Now we have a big hip hop following and we don’t even play hip hop!”