Bebe and Liv
We love checking in with Bebe Buell, the former rock muse whose wild life seems as though it were created by TV impressario Aaron Spelling. (If you haven't read her autobiography Rebel Heart, it's got all the dirt on her relationships with rock gods from Iggy Pop to Elvis Costello.) During our latest run-in, we found Bebe gushing about daughter Liv Tyler's recent wedding to musician Royston Langdon. Guess falling for musicians runs in the family. "It was such an amzing wedding," Bebe says of the party at Manhattan's Pastis. "Liv is my proudest life achievement, and we're very excited about Royston's being part of the family." Says Liv "I love my mom. For a while it freaked me out - you know, during that confused period when you're like, 'oh my god, I like my mom!' But one day I woke and realised this is my friend for life. It has been just her and me since I was born - we're a team." The New York City wedding bash, which came on the heels of a private ceremony in Barbados, attracted more rock royalty than an Aerosmith gig. Guests included Bebe's husband,musician Jim Wallerstein; Liv's two dads, Steven Tyler and Todd Rundgren; Stella McCartney; David Bowie; Keith Richards; Evan Dando; Chris Robinson and Kate Hudson;and Kirsten Dunst and Jake Gyllenhaal. Next up for Beebs: a new CD.
Let's not ever say that 50-year-old women are over the hill. Despite several local New York anchorwomen getting the boot recently (Jane Hanson, Diana Williams, Michelle Marsh), non-immature women are the stars of this decade.
Bebe Buell just proved that. A Ford Model in the 1970s, Buell -- who is also the mother of actress Liv Tyler -- appears in an eight-page fashion layout in the new issue of Grace magazine. The photos were so successful that editor in chief Ceslie Armstrong is promoting Buell to the cover for the November-December issue.
Last night, Armstrong feted Buell and husband Jim Wallerstein (who fronts the group Vacationland) at a swanky dinner at New York's new Flatotel on West 52nd Street. Bebe, wearing an Isaac Mizrahi black suit with white pilgrim cuffs, could not explain how she still looked so good without any plastic surgery.
Living well, I guess, is indeed the best revenge since Buell quit New York two years ago for seaside living in Maine. Now rumors are that a major fashion house is interested in signing her to a long term for marketing their clothes to "real" women.
|Review||by Mark Deming|
Bebe Buell's great blessing — that she's a beautiful woman attractive enough to enjoy success as both a fashion model and a Playboy centerfold — has also been something of a curse as far as her musical ambitions are concerned. Yeah, she's sexy and she's dated a whole bunch of rock stars, but while models who think they can sing are a breed most reasonable folks fear, Buell also seems to know and love rock & roll, and judging from Retrosexual, she's a hard rock belter of no small ability. No, Buell won't make you forget either Chrissie Hynde or Joan Jett on any of the album's ten tunes, but she does merit a not-unfavorable comparison to both of them, and she lets loose with some attitudinal swagger that might draw a grin from Iggy Pop or David Johansen on "Lust Never Sleeps" or "Bored Baby." The album's production is a bit too loose for its own good, some of the material is kinda cheesy, and Buell's band could use a dash more garage punk sneer and a jigger less metal crunch (though the guitarists ape Johnny Thunders more often than Eddie Van Halen, thank the fates), but overall this is a solid and enjoyable piece of rock action from a tuff girl who deserves more props than she gets — she's cooler than Avril Lavigne, rocks better than Courtney Love, and has more fun than both of 'em put together. Points added for "Claw Bite," the best song about being attacked by mutant humanoid lobsters of recent memory.
Bebe Buell signs copies of her book ,Rebel Heart,at Borders, at the Maine Mall, September 12, at 7pm.
BEBE BUELL: at home with Chiquita and Pancho.
Who wouldn’t want to be privy to the intimate thoughts of the man who was about to star in Chinatown? Or sit around listening while Warren Beatty serenaded you from behind a piano? Women of all ages swoon at the thought. Men certainly perk up at Buell’s mention, even now after she’s well into her 40s. What is it about that woman?
This is the line of thinking that makes it impossible to resist Buell’s autobiography (written with Victor Bockris, who also collaborated with John Cale, Lou Reed, and others), Rebel Heart, to be released this week by St. Martin’s press. Whatever you think of her, and Buell’s been ripped publicly on plenty of occasions, this is some of the best dope pop-culture junkies could shoot into their gossip-ravenous veins. Behind the scenes. In the bedroom. On the set. Backstage.
It would be a shame, however, if that was all a reader came away with after reading what she has to say. Buell has a natural wit, an unassuming honesty, and a straight-forward approach that allows the book to transcend “tell-all” status and attain a tentative foot-hold among the ranks of books that every music fan needs to have, even if only to read the words “Why can’t I date Mick Jagger, Todd Rundgren, Steven Tyler, and David Bowie all at the same time if I please? . . . Doesn’t that mean I have good taste?”
Bebe does have good taste, after all. She was with Rundgren by 1972, when she was all of 18, just as he was gaining success with “I Saw the Light,” off Something/Anything, just his third album. And Rundgren is, in many ways, the thinking girl’s rock star. He was never, as is chronicled in the book, starving for fame, and seems to actually have avoided it with the release that followed, A Wizard, A True Star. If you’re curious as to why his pop success was followed with such a mindfuck of a psychedelic album, Bebe’s got the answer. She gave him acid, of course. That’s the kind of gem that fills virtually every page of this book.
Open it to any page, literally, and you’ll find something worthy of reading out loud to anyone who’ll listen. For example, try to read these without a chuckle.
p. 112: “With my back to Mick, I was snuggling toward Woody, when Mick reached around to touch me and touched Woody’s willy by accident. We all leapt into the air. Woody screamed, “Oh my God, you touched my cock!’ Mick was screaming, ‘Get the Valium!’ ”
p. 174: “Steven and I had a little affair again that fall. It was an intimate oasis in an otherwise-arid time for me. He brought Liv toys and played with her, and we made love.”
p. 64: “ ‘Bebe,’ she exclaimed . . . ‘Playboy is America. It’s like Coca-Cola. It’s like Andy Warhol. It’s like a Campbell’s soup can. It’s Pop Art!’ ”
However, it’s not even half as juicy as it could have been. Buell has chosen to pull some of her punches. “I didn’t write this book to settle any scores,” she emphasizes, at her Portland home, decorated liberally with her trademark leopard-skin print (as is her book). “Even if I don’t always say, ‘Sunshine was coming out of his eardrums,’ that doesn’t mean I don’t respect them.”
The thing is, sunshine is often coming out of their eardrums. These are some pretty spectacular people who come in and out of her life. Take Nicholson as an example. His role in the book consists of taking her back to his hotel room only to drop her for Australian model Rachel Ward, teaching her to fuck up against the side of a car, and having her watch as he cavorts with six models in a hot tub. All after he’s flown her out to LA because he needs her to console him now that he’s broken up with the girl he really loves, Jessica Lange.
Rather than call him out for the philandering, self-centered jackass he would be if he weren’t Jack Nicholson, Bebe seems content to be treated as one of the boys. She delights in eating ribs and drinking beer with him. Her only condemnation of him comes with the line, “There was no way I was going to have sex with him after he had had sex with six women, and I knew he had.”
Even her ex-husband, Coyote Shivers, a wanna-be guitarist/songwriter who gained some critical acclaim with a 1996 self-titled release, who comes off as a lazy, adolescent bum, is treated pretty well. Buell makes allowances for him, says that “He was clever, and he seemed to have some talent and a certain savvy.” All the while, he seems to have been leeching off Buell and daughter Liv Tyler’s fame and money. Few would have objected to Buell filling pages with a good Shivers dressing down, but it never really comes. She takes some jabs, but Bebe is simply too nice a person to ever really go on the offensive.
On one hand, this is endearing, as Buell comes off as quite a likable character. And this is necessary for her later battles with depression and single-motherhood to be moving and engaging rather than just desserts. On the other hand, however, it’s sometimes difficult to discern exactly how she feels about a person. Rundgren is alternately “arrogant” and “one of the most important people in my life,” “manipulative” and “a father figure.”
The feeling is that Buell has been tugged at by quite a few powerful people, and it is only recently that she’s found herself.
Now, ensconced with her two toy dogs in the comfortable home daughter Liv has surprised her with — nice, right, having a daughter who makes a few million per picture — Buell comes across as the confident woman she can’t depict herself as until the final pages of her book.
“I wrote this book for women,” she says. “To tell them not to let depression, relationship problems, career mishaps to stop them from pursuing their goals.” This is a lesson she has only recently learned.
After Liv effectively fired her as career manager, Buell went into a tailspin that leads to her claiming false illnesses, gaining a great deal of weight, and visiting a shrink. Again, all of this is told in such matter-of-fact prose, it doesn’t come off as embarrassing or pitiful (this could also be a result of Bockris’s experience with retelling rock stars bottoming out).
As Buell recounts, “My spark plugs were worn out, and my ball bearings needed replacing.” A rather blunt metaphor for a condition that would require medication, yes, but representative of her attitude toward just about everything that happens to her: It happened, here’s how, let’s move on.
She also refrains from becoming overly defensive in the faces of her many detractors. A read of her book is proof enough that she’s no mindless, groupie sex-toy to the stars. Groupies don’t find themselves in Harper’s Queen and Vogue. Groupies aren’t called by Rod Stewart and asked out on a date as a publicity stunt. Groupies don’t have Jack Nicholson and Warren Beatty calling their mothers.
It’s unfortunate for Buell that the ’70s were still a quite misogynistic decade, where the double standard of women as whores and men as studs persisted. “Even being a single mother was frowned upon,” Buell notes in conversation. “Times had not caught up yet.
“They made it seem as though I ran around with butterfly nets, catching these poor rock stars,” she says with a laugh. “Believe me, these guys wanted to be caught.”
For some reason, Buell’s career as a Ford Agency model, gracing the covers of fashion magazines like her daughter would after her, was largely ignored in her time, in favor of describing her, as she still is today, as “Todd Rundgren’s former girlfriend,” or “girlfriend to the stars.” These tags don’t seem to be attached to today’s Naomi Campbell, Kate Moss, or Tyra Banks, who are now stars in their own right, when it’s news if rock stars are dating them.
And you could even argue that Buell’s talent in the musical arena — putting out the Covers GirlÕEP, and fronting the B-Sides, the Gargoyles, and the band that backs her current solo career — shows a talent none of these models/stars can approach (certainly not with their acting, i.e. Banks’s recent turn on Felicity).
This is not to say that Buell doesn’t revel in her lifestyle, sometimes in lieu of what would have benefited her modeling career. She is convinced into posing for Playboy, a choice she ardently defends but which, in the end, did much to ruin her more respectable gigs. Another time, she goes the entire year of 1974 without any modeling because she is so wrapped up in life with Keith and Rod and Mick and Ron.
Then there is her infatuation with Elvis Costello. Clearly, the two had a relationship — during much of which Costello was married — but Bebe always seems to be trying so hard to prove it. Frequently she recounts that Costello has released an album, and that it’s about her. “He got seven good albums out of me,” she writes at one point.
Sometimes, this feels forced. For instance, she writes that his album Imperial Bedroom:
was a critical smash — compared to the Beatles by reviewers. As always, he coded a lot of songs so I’d know that he was singing to me. When I went to the Picasso show at the Museum of Modern Art recently, I saw a lot of the paintings Picasso coded for his lovers Marie-Thérèse and Dora Maar. Elvis is the Picasso of his generation in that respect. We called each other Henry and Jane, because the second time around, our affair was meant to be a secret. His other nickname for me through the years was “Candy.” Even in 1991, six years after we broke up for good, Elvis and Paul McCartney wrote a song together called “So Like Candy.” Maybe he was talking about a box of chocolates, but I don’t think so.
It seems as though she’s arguing too fervently. Who’s disagreeing?
Another time, there is debate over whether the line “Baby, you’re much too fast,” from Prince’s “Little Red Corvette,” is actually “Bebe, you’re much too fast.”
Costello seemed to think the Corvette symbolized Bebe’s bush from a spread in Oui magazine. Buell’s mother thought the song was about her from the outset. Buell admits she never met Prince at all, but the song “was about my persona.” It’s somewhat confusing. Is that how famous Bebe’s exploits were, or how famous she thought they were? You figure it out.
Of course, anybody with a love of local music should read this just for the local history: gigs at the Tree, the Downtown Lounge, Geno’s; Bebe’s apartments on Park and High streets; her bands and their numerous members: Beth Blood, George Gordon, Donny Crosby, John Rousseau, and others.
Also, the pictures and index are fantastic parts of the book. There are 130 photographs, many of them from Bebe’s private stock; everything from nudes of herself — one pregnant with Liv — to a candid of Stiv Bators of the Dead Boys in sunglasses, in bed, and with a baby Liv. The index is just plain fun; there is, for instance, a listing for “Buell, Bebe (relationships and affairs)” that has as a subset “Elvis Costello, phone sex with,” among others.
That’s just what the book, and, finally Bebe, is: fun. So go get it, but be ready for the stares you’ll get from people around you looking at the back cover.
Sam Pfeifle can be reached at email@example.com
BEBE BUELL: still rockin’ and still fine.
There’s something more than a little sublime in having her recite those lyrics to me over a cup of hot chocolate. But this is what Bebe Buell, once leader of the Portland/New York punk outfit the Gargoyles, has become. Yes, she still rocks, and, yes, she still looks damn fine, but, in her own words, she feels “like a grown-up now,” like the mother she is; most famously to Liv Tyler, but to all young rockers as well.
“Everybody needs a mother,” she says, laughing, “even rock ’n’ roll. Patti Smith has decided she doesn’t want to do it anymore, so now it’s me.” With a book (Rebel Heart: An American Rock ’n’ Roll Journey, St. Martin’s — and check out the back cover, woo-hoo) and an album (Oozin’ with ‘tude, Rhino) both scheduled for an August release, it looks like one of punk’s original bad girls is going legitimate. And she clearly loves it.
So what do you do with a mother like Bebe — who throws around phrases like “My friend Sebastian Bach” and “I’m pretty famously hetero” — on a Saturday afternoon? You take her shopping, of course. We took a spin through Enterprise Records, on Congress Street in Portland, so she could help me fill out my vinyl collection.
It was a manic experience; the old kid in the candy store effect. Here’s the record-by-record account.
HIGHWAY 61 REVISITED, Bob Dylan (Columbia, 1965)
Bebe called ahead to make sure Enterprise had this in stock, and rushes over for it as soon as Bob Wirtz, Enterprise owner, has taken her coat. “How cool does he look on that album?” she asks rhetorically. “That was when he was good visually and artistically.”
DIAMOND DOGS, David Bowie (RCA, 1974)
Sifting through the Bowie, Bebe asks, “are we picking albums just for the covers?” Bowie’s albums, like the previous Dylan, seem to combine the best of both worlds, making for tough choices. She finally settles on Diamond Dogs “because it’s got “Rebel, Rebel” on it.”
AEROSMITH and TOYS IN THE ATTIC, Aerosmith (CBS, 1973 and 1975)
Among the “A”s, Bebe can hardly help herself. She holds up Rock in a Hard Place. “This is Steven Tyler’s favorite Aerosmith album,” she says, “but it’s not mine (1976’s Rocks).” So we don’t get that. She first settles on Toys in the Attic, with “Walk this Way, ” and “Sweet Emotion,” clearly a rock classic, but then she catches her breath, “What’s this? Oh you have to have this,” she says, grabbing the self-titled EP. She puts the two aside to decide later, but I end up buying them both.
DOUBLE FANTASY, John Lennon and Yoko Ono (Geffen, 1980)
Hoping to find Sergeant Pepper’s, Bebe whisks out this lesser known album from the Beatles section. “I love it because it’s the last record he ever made,” she says, “and I love it because it has “Watching the Wheels” on it. It’s a song about change, about growing, about learning.”
PARALLEL LINES, Blondie (Chrysalis, 1978)
For this she is succinct, handing me the record saying only, “You have to have Parallel Lines. That’s a classic rock record.” I ask her about Blondie’s recent comeback. “I think when you’re as brilliant and talented as Debbie, I’m happy to see her at any time in her life,” she says. “She’s an ageless rocker. Like when you go to see AC/DC, they’re ancient, but they still rock.”
She returns to the AC/DC section and is disappointed not to find Back in Black. “I hope you’ve got that,” she says. I assure her I do, although not on vinyl. “Good,” she says, “That’s the most important record ever made.”
ELECTRIC, The Cult (Sire Records, 1987)
“I don’t want you to kill me,” Bebe says, “but I love this record. I love The Cult. I loved The Cult.”
GET HAPPY, Elvis Costello and the Attractions (Columbia, 1980)
She hands me this saying simply, “This is my favorite Elvis Costello album.” Later, when I read the back, I notice a note from producer Nick Lowe: “. . . we can now assure hi-fi enthusiasts and/or people who never bought a record made before 1967 that with the inclusion of this extra music time they will find no loss of sound quality due to ‘groove cramming’ as the record nears the end of each face (i.e. the hole in the middle). Now get happy. Your friend, Nick Lowe.” There are twenty total tracks, not bad for 1980.
LONDON CALLING, The Clash (CBS, 1979)
Bebe just hands this to me.
TWISTIN ON THE DEVIL’S FORK, LIVE AT CBGB’S 1977 & 1978, The Dead Boys (Hell Yeah/Bacchus Archives, ?)
This album is seriously lo-fi, great late-’70s punk rock. Bebe gets rather excited for this one. “I didn’t even know this album existed,” she almost screams. I can tell she’s envious I’ll be taking this one home. She’s quickly distracted, however, when she catches a glimpse of Das Daman, her current fiancé Jim Wallerstein’s band from the early ’90s/late ’80s — on the same SST label as the Minutemen, the Descendents, and Black Flag. On the album, Wallerstein is listed as Jim Walters. “They did that because they thought Wallerstein was too hard to remember,” says Bebe. He’s also currently her rhythm guitarist, and may do some solo stuff soon. Bebe takes the Das Daman record home with her as a memento of sorts. As for marrying Wallerstein, she says “I’ve been married once before. It didn’t work out. This time, this is it.”
LIVE AT MAX’S KANSAS CITY, The Heartbreakers (Beggar’s Banquet, 1979)
This album is Bebe’s world, circa 1979. Classic New York punks, the Heartbreakers originally featured Johnny Thunders and Jerry Nolan of the New York Dolls, Richard Hell of Television, and Walter Lure. They toured in ’76 with the Sex Pistols, the Clash, and the Damned on the fairly famous “Anarchy Tour” that ended up pissing off the British government. This album features Thunders and Lure with Billy Rath and Ty Styx who did a short series of “farewell gigs” at Max’s in 1978.
CHEAP THRILLS, Big Brother & the Holding Company (Columbia, 1968)
“How could you not buy this,” Bebe says of the still-sealed album with perhaps the best album art of all time, by R. Crumb.
ROCK AND ROLL OVER, Kiss (Casablanca, 1976)
Somewhat reluctantly, Bebe grabs this. “Oh, because it has “Calling Dr. Love” on it,” she says by way of explanation. For some reason it makes her reminisce: “I wish they had the first Animals record. I remember bouncing around the house yelling ‘I gotta get out of this place’ when I was, like, 12. One day my mother just came and broke that album over her knee. She hated that even more than when she heard Robert Plant singing ‘Squeeze me baby, till the juice runs down my leg.’ She slammed open the door screaming ‘what did he say?’ I said, ‘squeeze the lemon to make lemon juice.’ ”
ROCKET TO RUSSIA, Ramones (Sire, 1977)
“Everyone would expect me to pick the Stones over the Ramones,” Bebe says, “but today, I’m picking the Ramones over the Stones because people always pick the Stones.”
RAW POWER, Iggy and the Stooges (CBS, 1973)
This almost didn’t make it in the bag. We’re at our pre-ordained spending limit of $100, and at the counter. Looking through the pile, Bob asks, “Where’s Iggy?” Bebe gasps and runs over to the corner, bringing back Raw Power, with its bare-chested Iggy cover, for me, and keeping a rare Stooges album with Iggy out in the crowd on the cover for herself. “Iggy called this his ‘Sea of Hands’ ” Bebe says. He’s not simply crowd surfing, but crowd walking, supported only by fans’ hands under his feet, still singing into the mic. “That’s the greatest Rock ‘n’ Roll photo ever taken,” says Bebe. “He’s the only one that ever pulled that off. Stiv [Bators of the Dead Boys] tried it once and fell. Iggy, Stiv, and Lux [Interior of the first psychobilly band, The Cramps] were the most agile, the most rubbery, lead singers ever. I once saw Lux jump off a Marshall amp in six-inch heels and women’s underwear, and land on his feet.”
Sam Pfeifle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Review of the Month - April 2001
Rebel Heart : An American Rock'n'Roll Journey Bebe Buell with Victor Bockris St. Martin's Press, New York 2001
All lives are morality plays.
How do we ensure that all our lifestyle choices bring satisfaction? How should we, why should we regulate our intake of pleasure? What should we expect from love? How much is it right to constrict our behaviour in the interests of others? Why be loyal or pure? How to be happy? Your name does not need to be Albert Camus to know, whoever you are, that there are such imponderables lurking in every day, even in the moments of the most apparently shallow whimsy.
So, give it all up please for Rebel Heart, the autobiography of Bebe Buell, model, singer and sometime companion of many rock giants. For this is one thumping good read and, in its own fun way, a very gritty little discourse on morals and men. Laugh at us if you want for taking Rebel Heart as an existentialist tract. But bite on these thoughts and then, we urge you, read the book.
It seems to us that the rock decades have created an almost perfect laboratory for ethical experimentation. Rock, says Bebe here, celebrates "the individual blossom that manages to grow through the concrete". And many of her personal experiences in rock-star land reflect a very acute awareness of just how elusive real human value can be, just how hard it can be to bloom and keep blooming in the penthouse-hothouse of rock culture. In her story, beauty meets the beasts, likes them, loves them - but this is not a fairy tale. The rock life is the stuff of purest excess : a crashing avalanche of noise, cash, dope, pump and pulse, bump and grind, sin and sweat and sex. So, the obvious questions start to howl like a rainstorm. In such excess, can you prevent decadence? If rock gods can choose any pleasure, can decency survive? Can the talented stay sane? Will anyone love you tomorrow?
Bebe Buell records with affecting honesty her life with Todd Rundgren, Steven Tyler, Mick Jagger, Elvis Costello and many other minor princes. Very few of the men whom we meet in Rebel Heart emerge with much moral credit. Indeed, a kind of acrid misogyny - the sorriest trip of all - swirls through the narrative like so much illicit smoke. That being so, Bebe faces interesting choices. Does she, the thoroughbred Virginian beauty, try to mimic the behaviour of the men? Should she claim the same pleasure-power and thus force a crude, post-feminist equality into the pleasure-palace? Here she reflects on her early days :
"I found myself in a very difficult position. There is a certain amount of envy involved when you are a rebel soul and a woman who's not afraid to be one of the boys. Plus, being an unwed mother was not as fashionable then as it is now. Liberated women who took their clothes off and wanted to be as sexually free as a man were not common. There was no Madonna yet. So in the late 1970's, there was not the acceptance of free spirits that there is today".
But there was another difficulty still for Bebe, the rebel heart. Sometimes, her heart did not really want to rebel at all. What makes her life-story specially plangent is the stark longing for stable love that stands over her with the insistent surliness of an unpicked groupie.
Here, she begins to question her life with one particular partner who has been regularly unfaithful while also, to her added dismay, "experimenting with kundalini and tantric yoga" :
"It was grating on my nerves. I just wanted to settle down and have a nice regular life at the movies. Men want their women to be good little girls and never do anything, while they get to be pirates and do everything. And it never changes……The irony is that if only men could see their way through to fidelity, they would have much better lives too".
So what should you do in the garden with too much sun where even sex-bombs get the blues? By what rules should you partake of excess - if you must partake at all? Bebe Buell, whatever quietly throbbing doubts she is occasionally ready to confront, never denies the sheer hellish fun of the rock'n'roll life. Thrill to this recollection from the early years :
"Todd and I respected each other to keep our affairs discreet, and when one was over, we fell back into each other's arms. Then it was makeup sex galore, with Todd competing consistently to be the best lover. Believe me, when your boyfriend knows that you've been with Iggy Pop, David Bowie, or Mick Jagger, you're in for quite a shag".
Yes, Bebe, quite so, we are sure.
And, yes, we know many intellectual friends who would cheerfully abandon a tenured professorship at Harvard or Oxford for one night's a-hanging backstage with Mick and Keith and all the gang with one full scoop of rock depravity thrown in. But it's the spasms of pain and rejection shaking Bebe's confidence in the lifestyle she has chosen that make this such a compelling, sometimes rather sad read.
Bebe Buell is no victim. She traded, in rock's plush moral bazaar, on her own terms. And she is able to measure and to muse, quite fascinatingly, on just how much power the rock market yields to men at the expense of women. Her autobiography is not as well written as, for example, some of the later works of Pamela des Barres who addresses similar themes. But her grief when at a moment in her life, with pleasure a-gogo all around her, she cannot hold the man she obviously loves gives her book a really citric twist.
There are more adroitly composed books than Rebel Heart. But this is as potent a tale of power and beauty, of male supremacy accessorised by glamour and of the search for wisdom within a reckless libertinage that we have read for a while. What are we talking about? Very few books, very few lives can scrape so grindingly into the heart of such themes.
So we unreservedly recommend Rebel Heart. It's fun and it's fast. But it's pointed and painful too. One of the very real Guineveres of rock legend has let us see inside the engine of a very modern myth. And the struggle for a moral order that this, like all myths, contains and elaborates.
We do not know Bebe Buell. But we could not help but like her. One of the best books that has come over our desk in 2001.