Pat Benatar Song Reviews
In the Heat of the Night (1979)
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Ain't this song a peach? It was a big hit back when it was released, and it's still one of the most well-known hit singles of all time. Not only does this song have an infectious melody, but it has that spirited performance from Our Good Lady Benatar. The instrumentation is quite good, also, relying on new-wave rhythms and rough though poppy guitars. They aren't terribly interesting instrumentals, but they also never over-do it, which is a quality that doesn't occur as much as it should. Benatar's ever-faithful lead guitarist Neil Giraldo does a good solo in the outro... He's hardly a Mick Taylor, but it's fun listening to it. From what it looks like, some songwriters-for-hire came up with this one... of course, they must've been thrilled to hear her performance, because this song really couldn't have sounded better! She even sounds good when the instrumentation stops and she sings a cappella. I normally hate that! ... So there you go. This is a great song to hear on the classic-rock radio from time to time.
I Need a Lover B-
Oh no... Do you know what this reminds me of? Johnny Cougar Mellencamp. ...OH, maybe that's because this IS him! Now, I might like to frequently poke fun of Johnny Butcher Smellystamps, but that doesn't mean that he was incapable of coming up with a nice little hokey pop-hook from time to time. That's nice, because a hokey little pop-hook is all this is... repeated over and over and over. This is very lightweight compared to the previous tune, but somehow I'm so addicted to Benatar's soaring tough-girl vocals that this is sorta fun. Giraldo probably didn't need to do that weird guitar solo, though.
If You Think You Know How to Love Me C+
I don't know why I bothered researching this song so extensively (I mean, it took a total of two minutes!), but this was written by Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman, both former members of Sweet, and originally performed by the English glam band Smokie. ...It's a pretty well-written song all things considered; it's definitely more complex than the dumb song that preceded this, but somehow it just doesn't have the charm. Benatar does a nice job getting those guttural intonations in her performance, but there needed to be something else here. It never catches fire. It's also about a minute too long.
In the Heat of the Night B+
I used to hate this song for a reason that is now completely a mystery to me. Now that I'm no longer in my early-20s, maybe I'm better able to get into slow songs better. Yeah... It won't be long before I start listening to Frank Sinatra. Imagine that! Anyway, this is another song that originated with Chinn and Chapman, and like their previous song, this one's pretty dang well-written! It has a catchy melody, and of course Benatar's vocal performance gives it a lot of juice. My only main complaint is more along the lines with my original opinion of this: It does seem to plod around during its entire five and a half minute run and never doing anything particularly grabbing. It seems like it needed some extra texture somewhere...
My Clone Sleeps Alone B
Pat Benatar wrote this along with her bassist, Roger Chapps. It's not half bad! (And I meant that expression literally... It's about 75% of a good song.) She and Chapps at least proves that they could write a halfway decent melody. It starts out like a Broadway aria or something, perhaps showcasing Benatar's theatrical roots, but it eventually erupts into a rock 'n' roll song! The rock 'n' roll part is pretty good and fairly minimalist with only a drum beat and a few guitars. It doesn't really catch fire for me, but this isn't bad. The sci-fi lyrics about biotechnology are cute.
We Live For Love A-
Now, this original song from lead guitarist Neil Giraldo, the future Mr. Benatar, is a good one. It's a catchy guitar-ridden tune with a new wave beat. If those synthesizers weren't so hidden in the background, I would have imagined this would have gone perfectly on a Cars album. (And of course I love The Cars along with everyone else in the galaxy.) It has a great hook, and I'm particularly fond of hearing Benatar's sweet soprano singing in the chorus... It's a great contrast to those gruff guitars!
Rated X B
This is very poppy and not altogether terrible, but it doesn't quite have the stamina to hold its own too well. The hooks are quite good, although rather thin after you listen to it more than three times. I really wish it had more charm, or more grit. The lyrics were pretty racy for its day, although the instrumentation makes it seem pretty tame.
Don't Let it Show B+
Of all the covers Pat Benatar sung on this album, this is the only one that I was previously familiar with. Of course, all dorks are probably familiar with this one, from The Alan Parsons Project's I, Robot... Yup. That's a weird thing for Pat Benatar to cover, but come to thing of it, she wrote a sci-fi ballad earlier in the album, so I guess anything's up for grabs. Of course, Benatar's version doesn't have anything to the original except of course her voice, which sounds really good here. Since I'm a music dork, I'm always going to prefer those sweet church organ textures of the original version. I also thought the original had a more emotional performance. But that's just me. Pat does a good job.
No You Don't A-
Certainly, this sort of ultra loud and flashy song, another one from our favorite glam-boys Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman, is very appropriate for Benatar's rowdy power-woman vocals! I'm not a Sweet expert or anything, but this sounds exactly like something that would appear on one of their albums—loud drums, flashy guitars, and electrified background vocals for the chorus. The best thing is this song has a catchy melody and it's only three minutes long. Perfect length!
So Sincere B
This is the other original song here from Benatar and Chapps. Once again, the two show a little bit of melodic talent in here, although it doesn't quite have that spark and stamina to make it an overall memorable experience. I'm also disappointed that these guys couldn't have worked out the pace a little better with this song. It has a rather plodding pace up until that chorus when it picks up into a more typical new-wave song. ...It's good that they made this song develop a little bit, but I wish it was a tad more interesting!
Crimes of Passion (1980)
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Treat Me Right B
This slick arena rocker makes for a nice opener, although certainly not as explosive as the previous album started. Benatar co-wrote this with someone, though, and she's proving to have a decent knack for melody. That chorus is something that gets caught in my head occasionally, and I don't mind it there at all!! I suppose, however, the verses seem deader than they ought to be, and I sort of wish this had a snappier, more driving beat to it. Giraldo's guitar solo in here, while he's usually pretty good, basically butchers this one with this weird, wobbly thing that doesn't seem to fit the overall tone of this song.
You Better Run B
Not bad—at least this gives Benatar another opportunity to flash her tough-girl vocals a little better than the previous song. I'm not sure that ultra-stiff riff in the verses works. It's just seems a little bit stilted. The more soaring chorus works much better if for no other reason, Benatar gets to sing more loudly there! I do wish they would sit back and think of more inventive melodies instead of concentrating exclusively on the arena guitar. But then again, I could say that about a lot of things from the early '80s!
Never Wanna Leave You B+
Benatar and Giraldo co-wrote this light reggae-pop number, which is obviously a take-off of The Police. It's not as good as The Police, of course, but it's surprisingly rather formidable. It has a few likable hooks in it, and I can actually recall it pretty well after it's done playing. The guitars give us a nice texture, and Giraldo does his best Andy Summers impersonation with his echoey, minimal guitar... Again, this guy is pretty good, but he's pretty average as far as guitar soloists go. I'm not sure why they're doing that Wizard of Oz thing at the end of it.
Hit Me With Your Best Shot A+
Ah yes, this is why I got up in the morning. The major radio hits on Pat Benatar albums seem to pop out at you and smack you in the face! And it gives you its best shot, too, just like the title might imply! As you know, this is the place where Benatar's pretty and capable voice finally sounds like it's doing what it's supposed to be doing. I know, you could hate the whole tough-chick thing for all I know, but that's not going to change the fact that this is a damn catchy song with a memorable riff and Benatar vocal performance is about as insatiable as any rock vocalists ever get.
Hell is For Children A-
This is also a pretty well-known song as far as Pat Benatar songs go, and there's a pretty good reason for that; the riff in the chorus is quite catchy! Of course, Benatar's soaring chops sail over that riff in a really powerful fashion... just as you would expect from Ms. “Heartbreaker.” The verses section seems pretty dead, though, and Giraldo's guitar solo at the end doesn't really do it for me... It's just a lot of quick notes, and it didn't seem to really gage the attitude of the rest of the song.
Little Paradise C+
I have a lot of trouble getting caught up into this one... The melody is dead, for a start. The nicest thing about most Pat Benatar songs is they have nice melodies. This one just doesn't compel me. The tight guitar-heavy groove they come up with also isn't very catchy or interesting. This isn't bad at all—it's just one spot on this album that I'll never remember.
I'm Gonna Follow You A-
Well, I have to say that my feelings for this song can be mixed. I had something written here that was rather negative, but I listened to this once again as I was writing the album overview, and I actually started to like this song quite a lot! This is probably the most complicated of the album, with many different melodies melded together almost in a Beatles-esque way. There aren't any great hooks in here, though, and I still wish these instrumentalists were a tad more charismatic.
Wuthering Heights B-
Pat Benatar covers Kate Bush! While Benatar's voice is great, she could never be able to touch Kate Bush's. Not even with a 10-foot pole. Benatar does try to do all the original wild vocal acrobatics, but she doesn't draw you in like Bush did. As you'd probably expect, this seems a lot more plasticy than the original, including the more guitar-centrist orchestration. ...So, I don't really like this version. It not only doesn't even come close to the original, but it also doesn't do anything particularly new with it. Of course, I'm mostly biased here considering I've listened to the original hundreds of times. Literally.
Prisoner of Love B+
Pop-rock is definitely more along Pat Benatar's line at this point, and she sings a song with a jumpy and mildly catchy riff. It doesn't quite pack the punch like it should, though, being more of a song for you to pleasantly bop your head to, and nothing else really. It's a nice pop song with a good hook or two.
This tight and quick new wave texture certainly provides one of the better riffs of the album, particularly in that rather memorable chorus. But all in all, I find this to be yet another wasted opportunity. The guitars sound very mild, and the rhythm section is sleeping. It's a good song, but I wish it inspired me to do some air-guitar with it, or at least lip-sync along with Benatar's vocals!
Precious Time (1981)
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Promises in the Dark B+
Awesome. Pat Benatar's budget evidently increased. This is a slick little rocker! Listen to how smooth and polished those rhythm guitars sound! This is an original composition by Benatar and Neil Giraldo, it has a pretty catchy melody, although not nearly as infectious as it would have needed to be in order to gain a higher score. But I do enjoy listening to it. Of course, Benatar's vocal melody soars over this like nobody's business. I also like Giraldo's guitar performance, which seems a lot more well-rehearsed and interesting than his solos in the previous albums.
Fire and Ice A-
This is also extremely slick, and it's an original composition too. I also happen to think this melody is quite infectious! ... Although, this is one of those songs that has a rather forgettable verses section, but a really soaring chorus. Ah well, this chorus is so strong that might inspired you to sing along with it. Certainly among arena-rock ditties, this was one of the finer ones. (It still doesn't hold a candle to “Hit Me With Your Best Shot,” though.)
Just Like Me B
This sounds really good, too! I do wish the melody was catchier, but I love hearing Benatar's gritty vocal performance on it, and those arena-rock guitars have the appropriate amount of crunchy fuzz to them. The riff is about as bland as it gets, which makes this pretty comparable to the average song on Crimes of Love. But this is very likable thanks to the greatly improved production standards.
Precious Time C+
...Well, this is a pretty good song. It has a multi-part melody, so it's no surprise this was also written by Billy Steinberg who provided “I'm Gonna Follow You” on the previous album. ....But for the love of everything on this earth, don't you think the guy bit off more than he could chew? The verses section trudges along like it's trying to be some sort of artsy, jazz-fusion thing while a very standard pop-rock chorus comes completely out of nowhere! I mean, both of these parts are pretty good, but in this package, they sound like two incomplete songs awkwardly spliced together. ...I also had to dock extra points off for being waaaaaay too long. I mean... six minutes? Make that three and a half!
It's a Tuff Life B-
Ah, here's Pat Benatar's epic about a geologist who goes around the world collecting volcanic rocks... (OK, not funny. But as a former geology student, I couldn't help myself.) This is Neil Giraldo's second attempt at a Police-like reggae, and again it's not too bad. I like the tight reggae groove even though it's very standard. He plays it well anyway. It's all very solid. But why couldn't he have written a more infectious melody? Those are the basics, man!!!!
Take it Any Way You Want It A-
Hello!!!!! It's been awhile in this album since I finally heard a song that Pat Benatar should be singing... that is a very catchy arena-rocker. I don't think this song was a big hit or anything (I certainly haven't heard it before), but give me this infectious and slick little rocker over “Fire and Ice” anytime. This song has multiple hooks strewn equally throughout it, and Benatar's vocal performance proves just how fun and spirited that she could be. Me likey! Me likey!
Evil Genius B
Benatar wrote this weird comic-book character sketch with Giraldo... It points to the art-rock the pair would compose together in Tropico. Anyway, this isn't a very bad song at all. It has a surprisingly well-composed horn section, and it doesn't rely on any cliches that I'm aware of. Its main melody is a little weird, disconnected, and it isn't very hooky, but I sort of like it. It isn't until the very end of the song when I grow tired of that chorus; Benatar repeats it so dang much that it seems like she's drilling it in my poor head. This song also has a rather pointless “jam” in the middle where Giraldo fiddles around with his guitar. ...He's a good guitarist, but he can't quite pull off a jam like that. ...Well, to be fair I'm comparing him to The Rolling Stones!
Hard to Believe B
Very good! Benatar might be at her best when she's singing arena-rock, but you can't deny that she does a fabulous job with these Blondie-like pop rockers. That beat is light, poppy, and a very nice ditty to bob your head to! This is more proof that songs are really benefiting from these improved production standards, as this sounds as slick as any Blondie-wannabe pop song should sound. ...But the main problem with this song is that it's just not infectious enough. It's fun to listen to, but I'll just forget about it the minute it's through playing.
Helter Skelter A
Hey!!! This is more like it! As far as covers go, this Beatles cover is a lot more up her alley than Kate Bush or The Alan Parsons Project. Oh boy, she can do the flagrantly spirited growl-singing required by this song about as well as Paul McCartney himself! Benatar's band performs this song very well, too. They sound very slick and polished like they did throughout the rest of the album, but they also didn't forget that a song like “Helter Skelter” requires a lot of DRIVE and a lot of DIRTY VERVE. That's right. This song is very dirty vervy, and I like it!
Get Nervous (1982)
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Shadows of the Night B-
Oh my crap... Pat Benatar has always done arena rock, but she never did one that sounded this much like an overproduced '80s nightmare. It starts out with Benatar singing a cappella to a lot of reverb. Very '80s. The rest of the song features more of these bombastic vocals, '80s keyboard sounds, and all these bombastic power chords. Oh man! Not that I have an automatic distaste for these generic '80s sounds; I only object to Benatar's blind use of them without bothering to write a very interesting melody. That is, it has a few hooks in them, but they're not very good ones and they repeat too much.
Looking For a Stranger A
Actually, I like this one probably more than I should. (...Geez, after writing so many song reviews, why do I feel like I have to make excuses for liking silly pop songs? Ah, I'm still not going to get over what a lot of ex-hippies must think of me for preferring to listen to Michael Jackson over Led Zeppelin... Although I've actually been listening to some Led Zeppelin fairly recently. ...I think I actually might be a minor fan now... But I digress...) This is a fun new-wave song with a catchy melody, a poppy beat and a terrifically playful vocal performance from Benatar. The verses are fun and bouncy, and the chorus is very atmospheric and soaring. I really like listening to that bubbly organ grooving around throughout this! Making it even better is that the melody is very catchy. This is new-wave first class.
Anxiety (Get Nervous) A-
This original by Benatar and Giraldo is very commendable, I must say! It's a key-board led new wave song that really gets a tense atmosphere going. Those really fast-paced synthesizers pulsating in and out of our speaker and the dark keyboard sounds isn't something you'd expect Pat Benatar to do. But it's kept enjoyable thanks to the poppy drum beat, the catchy melody, and (of course) Benatar's vibrant vocal performance! I suppose this could have been better, but it's surprisingly rather inventive while keeping most of the entertainment value.
Fight it Out C-
Holy guacamole. Benatar and Giraldo are still trying to morph into art-rock peoples, but this is just terrible. It's a piano ballad with a lot of reverb... And, no, that's not why I hate it. Piano ballads with a lot of reverb can be pretty cool. It's just that this one moves along at an unbelievably sluggish pace, and Benatar doesn't give us much of a vocal melody and she overdoes it with that growl-singing in here. Pat, baby, just because you're singing it with a growl doesn't automatically make it emotional! Those drums are very loud and very clunky... But I haven't even talked about the worst part yet. Neil Giraldo comes in with an electric guitar solo that sounds like he's scratching his finger nails across a chalkboard. ...I really like that these guys were veering toward the much more interesting art-rock vein instead of milking out that arena-rock stuff for all it was worth (a lot), but this is a verrrrrrrrrrrrrry unfortunate misfire. It completely ruins the dynamic of the songs that surrounds it.
The Victim A-
This is back to the tough-girl stuff, and I say it's about time! The instrumentation is a lot more involved than her previous big hard-rock songs. That bass guitarist plays some pretty quick notes, and the drums are extremely involved. It's nothing spectacular, but I like the texture! The extended instrumental interlude is pretty unusual for a pop song... Giraldo keeps on changing the texture on us! And you know what? It's very interesting to sit through! Giraldo doesn't come out with an elaborate, cocky heavy metal solo... He's treating his instrument more as a part of the instrumental fabric, and I like it!
Little Too Late C+
Geez, either these guys are on a roll, or they're just being LAME. This is a very hit-or-miss album I guess! Once again, this is a new-wave song that tries to put one foot in art-rock and the other foot into mainstream pop-rock. I do appreciate they were trying, but this just doesn't work. The drumming again sounds very clunky, and Giraldo's really butchering the instrumental interlude. The melody is actually OK, but the underlying instrumentation is so poorly conceived that it never takes off. There's a part where the backing instrumentation gets stripped away and Benatar just sings along with the drums. ...That just makes it that much worse.
I'll Do It B-
Oh god. This isn't bad, I supooooooooooooooose. I mean, if you're going to force me to say it. It all sounds nice. Benatar's singing this with passion, and at least Giraldo doesn't do anything screwy to mess this up. (In fact, he's playing some fairly low-key textures in the background... much more in his alley.) But this melody sure sounds empty! The instrumentation is OK, but they're also missing DRIVE. The atmosphere is dark, but it doesn't draw me in, and I really don't care for that cheesy “scary haunted mansion” keyboard noise. I get the general idea of what they were trying to do with this, and I'm disappointed that it didn't work out better. ...I mean, this coulda been a real gothic, art-house masterpiece, but it's only halfway there.
I Want Out A-
Alright, I'm consulting my original review of this album as I'm writing this, and I really don't know what sort of crazy thing I was smoking when I wrote it. I wrote that the production was disgusting and murky, but really this is one of the cleanest sounding things here with this ultra-slick bass guitar plopping away very pleasantly. The vocal melody isn't the greatest thing ever, but it's multi-part and rather infectious and it grabs my attention pretty well. Benatar's growling vocals are as good as ever. I even like that minimalist instrumental interlude with that sparse piano groove and Giraldo's disturbed guitar noodles. This is good! I apologize for the past version of me!
Tell it to Her B
This isn't an altogether bad tune. It's a straightforward new wave song that doesn't seem to have any ambitions to be an artsy-fartsy sort of song! Giraldo comes in with some creepy guitar lines here and there, and he actually sounds really good at it. This song is fully equipped with a marginally catchy melody, and of course Benatar's soaring over the material. I do like this, but it's not quite as infectious or memorable as it should have been. This is one of those songs that I like OK as it's playing, but I'm never going to remember it as soon as it's done.
Silent Partner B-
Geez, here's another song I get very mixed feelings about. It begins with Benatar singing a really creepy but interesting round-robin type ballad before a more harder groove pipes up. They bring in some interesting keyboard textures that create an odd sort of atmosphere. I don't object to the way this sounds, surely; I really appreciate that they're thinking outside the box there, something that Benatar certainly didn't have. It has a nice beat that you can dance to and of course Benatar's vocals are insatiable. ...But geez, I wish this melody would grab my attention somehow. It sounds empty. I'm sorry. Good effort, though.
Live From Earth (1983)
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Love is a Battlefield 10/10
A great song!!!!!!!! This is a very fun '80s single ... it's certainly a product from that decade, but it's pretty awesome. Not the AOR tough girl image of her previous albums, this is a nice straight pop song. The running bassline is pretty neat, and the melody is very catchy. Benatar (who, effectively, ends up proving that she is a better studio singer than a live one) delivers a solid and dynamic performance. The instrumentation is typical for '80s pop except it's pretty tasteful and even vaguely creative.
Lipstick Lies 10/10
The instrumentation is even more creative than the previous song. I just want to fall in love with that sax-synth that subtly but effectively imitates Motown music from the early '60s. ............. I almost don't believe this song!!!!!! It's very fun and tasteful ... the melody is even pretty catchy. At first glance this song threatens to be a little annoying. The thump-thump-thump drums seem monotonous (maybe you can consider that a minor flaw), but this song has a very intriguing orchestral quality that I can't say happens this effectively in '80s pop. It's delicious!!!!!!
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Diamond Field 8/10
...Drum roll please... (Yeah! This song starts with a drum roll!) What ensues is a rather complex pop song with a detached drum beat. The song is rather entertaining with some nice little production tricks and a lot of Kate Bush posturing. The production is interesting (even notice how the song ends) and it's overall a decent foray into art-pop. The general problem is the melody is rather toneless.
We Belong 9.5/10
Just about as "art-friendly" as the previous track except the melody is pretty catchy. The song has two distinct sections. The first is a rather quiet and contemplative section featuring some mesmerizing, calculated synths. The second is a rather thunderous chorus with some percussion that sounds like a perverted version of stadium rock. The result is pretty interesting and entertaining!
Painted Desert 9/10
Quite a bit more mainstream here, but Benatar's singing like a normal adult contemporary musician. The term "art-pop" won't describe this one, but I like this song anyway. It has a nice pace and the production could have come out of any decade. The melody is excellent; its only sin is it's not too infectious. (That stop in the final third wasn't a very good idea. They should have just kept that smooth flow... That's a minor point, though.)
Temporary Heroes 8/10
Back to more of the weirdness ... the percussions sound like a much less crazy version of "Sat in Your Lap." But at least they're trying for something like that. The melody isn't that great here, but it holds pretty well together. The chorus manages to pick up some steam. All that "quirk" in the instrumentation at least helps things out. There's a nice echo effect in a few spots (...difficult to describe...)
Love in the Ice Age 9.5/10
Now this is a pretty damn good song. She comes pretty close to having a great song here if there only weren't a few spots in which it seemed like it was falling apart. The production limits the "quirks," but it still contains some pretty neat 'artsy' guitar plucking here and there. There's even a somewhat off-color drum beat, and a (rather simply played) piano pipes in during the final third. The real appeal to this song is the chorus, which just taaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaakes off!!!!!!!!!!
Ooh Ooh Song 7.5/10
One thing Kate Bush never did was new wave. She might have been called new wave a few times, because she emerged in the era, but that's incorrect. That's not to say Pat Benatar shouldn't do it, but ... that's probably one reason this song seems pretty out of place. Don't think this was a bad effort at all. The fast paced beat is pretty fun (the drums are a little too intrusive, though). The melody is fine but much more derivitive than the other material on the album. The rock organ has a goofy Elvis Costello feel. Overall, it's fine, but it much more trashy than this new art-friendly image Pat Benatar was going for.
Outlaw Blues 8/10
Back to the non-basics! The song begins all quiet and contemplative-like!! In fact, I swear I hear some Windows sound effects in here. The shuffley drum beat seems a little too odd here ....... it seems too busy than it needed to be. The melody is OK and Mr. Pat Benatar delivers a few fun guitar lines in the background. Overall, this is one of the weaker entries.
Suburban King 8/10
Pretty boring this time. The only reason I don't trash it is because it's not even two minutes long. They try pretty hard developing the atmopshere with some space-age sound effects in the background and Geraldo's contemplative guitar work. The problem is there is no melody.
Crazy World Like This 9/10
Good! At least make your music danceable!!! This is another one of the better songs. There's a few really excellent chord changes here or there even though the melody seems pretty derivitive sometimes. The orchestration is pretty fun. The drums are pretty constructive and I like the rhythm guitar. There's some nice uses of rhythm-changes for the "bridge" and the "chorus." (Who knows if I'm correctly using these terms.) Anyway, I find this song to be pretty fun. The melody is about as good as a usual adult contemporary song, but the instrumentation is quirky enough to elevate it a few notches above that. (There's a mightily goofy guitar solo here ... very interesting. Almost early Roxy Music like.)
Takin' it Back 9/10
The percussion is pretty busy, but decent this time (it still seems like it could have been more "layered" if that makes sense). They're trying to develop a sort of atmospheric synthscape, but they're mostly amateurs. Heck, I love the creativity anyway even if it isn't too innovative. Most of all, I love the melody here, though. The chorus has a really deathly hook that they don't seem to exploit enough. Oh well... it's just that much more alluring.
Seven the Hard Way (1985)
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Sex as a Weapon 8.5/10
This is a heavily produced '80s pop song ... that makes sense considering this album came out in 1985 --- one year before 1986, arguably the nadir of pop rock. The melody is OK and the instrumentation is rather busy with synthesizers going off in and out of the speakers. It's not too polished sounding, which immediately levels it above a Madonna track. She doesn't forget that she is the tough chick, and she gives a loud vocal performance!
Le Bel Age 8/10
This is entering banal territory ... I hate to say. It's not quite there, but it's close. The arrangements are pretty interesting though for such an '80s album. There's a pretty intricate layer of synthesizer and guitar sounds ... and, what, a xylophone? Melodically, this isn't very interesting, but somehow it manages to stand above other songs of the era.
Walking in the Underground 7/10
This was a tad misfired. It starts quietly with a bit of a cheesy saxophone. Then there's a hard rock section that sounds a little too much like Journey for taste. This is a very heavily produced song, and they went too far with it. The melody isn't that good...
Big Life 7/10
This is another loud song ... The drums are mixed too loudly, and the whole effort is rather uninspiring. The heavy guitars are worth something I suppose ... at least they're not stupid synthesizers. The whole effort seems pretty common to me...
Red Vision 5/10
What a mess. The instrumentation is not only way too loud this time (to the point where I can't make heads or tails out of Benatar's vocal performance) but any melody is absolutely indiscernible. This is just a loud collage full of worthless sounds, it seems. That's not exactly compelling... ick...
7 Rooms of Gloom 7/10
It begins with Benatar talking ... and then it evolves into an incredibly banal arena rock that is kind of fun, but worthy of Journey. It's loud, heavy, obnoxious ... and it's not too pleasant. The melody doesn't even save it ... boring...
Run Between the Raindrops 6/10
A ballad of sorts that really suffers from overproduction. You can discern a melody somewhere, and it's not the worst, but then you get all these weird cluttery notes screwing everything up ........ what the heck were they thinking?
They're getting a little more mainstream with this track, which means it fortunately means it's much less cluttery and a little more tuneful. The drums are freakishly loud, but that was the sign of the times! This track is straight radiola, and it doesn't aim to be anything else.
The Art of Letting Go 7/10
It's a shame these songs are coming out so poorly, because it seems like they're trying to be a little bit unconventional. This one features enormously irregular instrumentation, but it still tries to appeal to the '80s radio. I certainly would rather have this than normal stuff, but it just didn't work here. Nothing about this song is really appealing to me.
Wide Awake in Dreamland (1988)
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All Fired Up 8/10
Pat Benatar wants to get things off on the right foot with the nicely titled "All Fired Up." Well it doesn't get me very fired up, but I guess I'm just that kind of guy. It's a very straight-ahead, middle-of-the-road rocker. The melody is OK but there's no reason for me to want to hear it again. The part where the song gets quieter and slower isn't as fun as the more instrumentally flooded and upbeat moments, but that wasn't so bad. For at-the-moment enjoyment that you can let pass through one ear and out the other, this altogether decent. Neil Girardo seems to be having some fun with his guitar noodling.
One Love 9/10
Here is a nicer composition. It's a typical '80s ballad, except the instrumentation is actually interesting and tasteful. Giraldo again proves that he is a top guitar player --- I love his touches throughout this thing. Otherwise, the instrumentation is beautiful that manages to compliment the melody for more than it was worth. That's what instrumentation is supposed to do, my friends. Who cares if it's a dated '80s song? It's extremely well made and enjoyable.
Let's Stay Together 6.5/10
This is a more thundering song with the overuse of percussion instruments. It turns out to be a rather substantial mess that ended up plaguing her previous record. The melody doesn't work as nicely for me... It's just a standard blues-based melody and chord progression. You can hear some nice guitar licks in the background, but it also contributes to the sloppy mess. (They should have stopped this track before the nothing harmonica solo tacked on at the end, which doesn't contribute anything worthwhile.)
Don't Walk Away 7/10
This is a little less sloppier, but the melody is very sterile. The instrumentation isn't that great here. The chorus, especially, seems forced. There's very little that actually engages my ear, although it seems like they were trying to do that. There's some elaborate arrangements here and complex songwriting, but I guess it was misfired. Well nice try anyway.
Too Long a Soldier 8/10
A sort of '80s-fied country-folk song. It's not really a horrible idea as it might sound (and she had a similar track in Tropico). The melody is a little corny, but it works in its context. The instrumentation is a little more streamlined here and constructive. The chorus is the best part, obviously...
Cool Zero 7.5/10
A typical '80s arena rocker. It's better than average although that's not saying much about it. The melody is OK but the heavily repeated chorus (a shout-out of "Cool Zero!") is corny in a bad way. The instrumentation is solid at least. Again, there's some nice guitar, but it's too subdued by those drums. Benatar certainly delivers a spirited performance!
Cerebral Man 8/10
This is a nicer song with one of the album's better melodies. It's a mid-tempoed track that probably aims to be an art-rocker (with the presence of xylophones and world-music percussion instruments). But all of that is just decoration for what is a usual '80s track. The instrumentation is topped off by some nice, arena-rock style electric guitar work.
Lift 'Em On Up 8.5/10
Ah, finally. Here is a solid little arena-rocker. The melody works more nicely even though it's not tremendously inspired, and I like those synthesizer power chords. That might make my opinion a bit odd --- to like those power chords. (Honestly, you're going to have to like the genre to really enjoy this song, but --- this is one of the better examples.) Benatar delivers one of her spirited performances, as always. The whole experience gets a tad stale by the end, and I deducted it the required points.
Suffer the Little Children 7/10
This is a strange track. It's a mid-tempoed ballad that's largely uninspired. The instrumentation is a bit of a mess --- we hear miscellaneous sounds coming in and out of the speakers that don't serve any purpose but to provide clutter. Whatever happened to Benatar in Tropico? This stuff was done right there.
Wide Awake in Dreamland 9.5/10
But at least the album ends with a shout instead of a whimper. This is probably the best song of the album. It's a loud arena rocker of the nicest caliber. The melody is catchy enough to make me want to tap my foot pleasantly with it, and Giraldo's guitar is crunchy and delicioso. Naturally, all this fits with Benatar's perfect voice like this is this is what she was born to sing. Lovely.
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