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The Web ROCKWiRED
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OCTOBER 23, 2017
ROCKWiRED'S 30 MOMENTS: PAT BENATAR
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http://www.rockwired.com/PatBenatarInsert.jpghttp://www.rockwired.com/CapitalIRed.jpgn an era filled with the so-pop-it-ain't-country glamour of TAYLOR SWIFT and the quirky, cheeky stylings of KATY PERRY, it's hard to believe that there was a time when women who sang hard rock once topped the charts. Acts like the female-fronted HEART, the playful, powerchord approach of JOAN JETT and the ethereal STEVIE NICKS have had their day in the upper reaches of the charts and all of those women have made it into the ROCK N ROLL HALL OF FAME. (NICKS was inducted as a member of FLEETWOOD MAC) The one woman who hasn't even made it onto the "to be considered" list is a four-time GRAMMY winner with seven platinum albums to her credit. And she was the first female artist on MTV. Yes, PAT BENATAR, the woman with a four-octave range, stuck it to the rock n roll boy's club with a sound that was forceful and feminine and evidence of her infleunce on the firmament of hard rock is felt today with such standards as HEARTBREAKER, HIT ME WITH YOUR BEST SHOT, HELL IS FOR CHILDREN, FIRE AND ICE, LOVE IS A BATTLEFIELD and WE BELONG still permeating the airwaves through classic rock radio. With a track record like this, it's a surprise to us that this dame didn't make it into the HALL OF FAME ten years ago. But with some of the decidedly non-rock n roll entrants of recent years, it has us wondering if that HALL OF FAME racket even deserves the name "rock n roll".

In recent years, BENATAR has made touring the Country a summertime ritual with her husband and axman NEIL GIRALDO, delighting crowds with her bombastic catalog of hits. But this year, BENATAR has stepped back into making new music. In January, she put her politics on display with the women's anthem SHINE - a song co-written by and produced by LINDA PERRY in observance of the Women's March that took place in response to the innauguration of DONALD TRUMP. Who better to issue a song of resistance and suffrage than the woman who made a career of cutting louses and jerks down to size? SHINE let us know that this woman was still in the game. Now, she's back with a new single DANCING THROUGH THE WRECKAGE, another collaboration with PERRY and the theme song for a documentary film of the same name about struggling female veterans competing in a beauty contest. Proof that this woman isn't playing around is the anthem's mesmerizing video where the queen of hard rock shines in a way that she hasn't in years. Filmed in stark black and white and then shifting to full vibrant color, the video shows that BENATAR is at the top of her game - a game that she changed the rules to decades ago. At press time. the song has already placed at #28 on the BILLBOARD ADULT CONTEMPORARY CHARTS. We can only hope this latest move is evidence of a new album to come. 

CHECK OUT THE ViDEO FOR DANCiNG THROUGH THE WRECKAGE!!!

Given the recent activity, ROCKWIRED has taken the time to re-acquaint you with the woman and her music and the 30 moments of her career that made her a boss.

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With it's frantic, thunderous beat and driving metal guitar riff, you couldn't have asked for a more defiant and welcome response to the disco that the filled the airwaves in the late seventies. Sure, you had DEBORAH HARRY of BLONDIE making folks comfortable with the thought of a woman singing rock, but BENATAR  didn't concern herself with droll observations of love and live. It was clear from the get-go that sexual politics were going to define BENATAR's brand of rock and that alone made her stand out from a scene that was filled with LINDA RONSTADTS and CARLY SIMONS. Sure, there was that much publicized four-octave range of hers, but that was just icing. HEARTBREAKER set the tone, not only for the woman's career and her gift for issuing a mean payoff in a chorus, but for the heavier side of pop rock throughout the looming decade.

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Hitmaking songwriter and producer MIKE CHAPMAN had been working his production magic on such acts as SWEET, SUZI QUATRO and EXILE but by 1979 he was getting a ton of notice for sprinkling a  little faerie dust on the New York punk band BLONDIE and helping them to finesse their innate pop sensibility for their breakthrough album PARALLEL LINES.  No wonder the folks at CHRYSALIS dialed him up for BENATAR's debut album. IF YOU THINK YOU KNOW HOW TO LOVE ME was the first single and should've been a hit. WIth it's PHIL SPECTOR-styled drumming  and BENATAR's powerful, yearning vocals, BENATAR'S take on the CHAPMAN penned anthem surpasses the original by SMOKIE. Her rendition of I NEED A LOVER also goes beyond the reach of JOHNNY COUGAR's (Today known as JOHN MELLENCAMP) overindulgent original. Evidence of CHAPMAN's handiwork with BLONDIE shows up on the dance rock sheen of WE LIVE FOR LOVE, the campy MY CLONE SLEEPS ALONE and the cutesy but punchy SO SINCERE. Even though CHAPMAN's Midas touch is in full force, it is BENATAR that emerges as the star, despite some of the cushy, cabaret feel of some of the material. At times, the cartoon toughness is laughable (Her cover of SWEET's NO YOU DON'T). A sweet soprano like her's can do wonders with a ballad  but her cover of ALLAN PARSON'S PROJECT's DON'T LET IT SHOW is a little too by-the-numbers and stands out like a sore thumb on an album full of confident and celebratory rockers. 

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Ever since the beginning of rock n roll, it had been established early on that you need to have a look. ELVIS had his sideburns and sneer. PAT BENATAR, earlier in her career, had her leotards and sultry pout. The thing is, her look evolved from a Halloween costume. For inspiration she looked ot the 1950's B-movie CATWOMEN OF THE MOON featuring EVA GABOR. That night her costume consisted of a black leotard, heavy eye make up and a laser gun. Little did she know she had found a look that  would capture the eyes and hearts of millions. That night, she won the costume contest and when she took to the stage in her new get up, the crow went wild. This began a bidding war on the new talent and her eventual signing to CHRYSALIS RECORDS. Outside of what the look did for her career, we can't help but think it got JANE FONDA started with her whole excercise thing.

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Upon completion of IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT, BENATAR and her band hit the road to promote the album. Once the single HEARTBREAKER found it's way creeping up the charts, you had masses upon masses yearning to see rock's new leading lady. The buzz around BENATAR and her band was so intense that the headlining act that she was opening for jettisoned her and band from the tour. We can't even remember who the opening act was, but JOHN and JANE Q PUBLIC knew who they were going to get behind. The craziness came to a head at a show at VIRGINIA BEACH which had over sold and left many people out in the street rioting becasue they couldn't get in. When BENATAR took to the stage, she was warned to get off by a stage hand because someone had called in a bomb threat. Everyone was a evacuated and it was later determined that the threat was false. This is what a rock n roll zeitgeist looked like in the pre-MTV, pre-social media world.

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It was easy to dismiss IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT as cushy, new wave cabaret with touches of metal, but it's platinum sales gauranteed another album. It would've been all to easy to dial up MIKE CHAPMAN again and repeat the formula but CRIMES OF PASSION ditches the cabaret feel of the first and goes for full on hard rock. On this album, BENATAR comes into her own, not only as a singer but also a songwriter ( she co-wrote six of the albums ten tracks) and the romantic relationship between her and guitarist NEIL GIRALDO  yielded some creative benefits. The songs TREAT ME RIGHT, YOU BETTER RUN, HIT ME WITH YOUR BEST SHOT and HELL IS FOR CHILDREN remain radio mainstays today, but songs such as the glorious KATE BUSH cover WUTHERING HEIGHTS, the seductive strut of I'M GONNA FOLLOW YOU and rock n roll revelry of LITTLE PARADISE would've been equally as comfortable on rock radio. While production credit goes to KEITH OLSEN, PAT maintained in her biography that it was largely NEILGIRALDO behind the console.

STORY WiLL CONTiNUE 
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"Lacking subtlety and playfulness" was a charge leveed against BENATAR by ROLLING STONE  with regard to her album CRIMES OF PASSION. The fact that the woman is full of the sort of bravado that made men in rock the men that they are is not something we're going ot argue with. But lacking playfulness? The proof that the rock siren was capable of putting her tongue in her chipmunk cheek  was the song that had her putting another notch in her lipstick case. Who sings that with a straight face? BRENDA STAR?  In any event, the song became a massive hit - her first top ten hit and boasted the larger than life chorus and the playful NEIL GIRALDO guitar solo that has become her trademark. Years after the fact, the song has proven to be perfect for any karaoke or impromptu sing-a-long.

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This was BENATAR's first foray into making music with a message and this stinging indictment on child abuse still manages to disturb and electrify 37 years after it's release. HELL IS FOR CHILDREN gave CRIMES OF PASSION the emotional heft that the album needed. Too much romantic discontent would be too much right? The subject of child abuse is often considered taboo but back in 1980, nobody was talking about it. BENATAR's examination of sexual politics had an allure back in the early eighties, but with HELL... she managed to engage in a different way. Hindsight being  20/20, there was no doubt that this rocker was gonna be a fantastic mom.

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We are not taking anything away from KATE BUSH. With all of the woman's wizardry in the recording studio for the past forty years, BUSH deserves a mighty list of her own musical accomplishments. The world is a better place because of KATE BUSH, but being a child of the eighties, PAT BENATAR was my first introduction to the awe and splendor of KATE BUSH with her take on KATE's loopy, ethereal, musical retelling of EMILY BRONTE's tragic literary classic of the same name. BENATAR's take is decidedly more power ballad-y and certainly not as adventurous, but the damn thing is mighty epic. Even ROLLING STONE magazine had to melt the ice a little bit when citing WUTHERING HEIGHTS as a standout track from CRIMES OF PASSION. 1980 was the year of the power ballad thanks to REO SPEEDWAGON's KEEP ON LOVING YOU. Would a tale of love, loss and death have been a radio win for BENATAR with WUTHERING HEIGHTS. Probably not in an age where it was best to keep it simple. We were coming up on the REAGAN era after all.

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CRIMES OF PASSION was a year old when MTV launched in August of 1981  but BENATAR had no less allure.  It was a good idea to capitalize on it and let people know that STEVIE NICKS and DEBORAH HARRY weren't the only babes in town. Before MTV, music was somehting you listened to on the radio. It only became visual when you saw a band in concert or stayed up late enough for either DON KIRSHNER'S IN CONCERT or BURT SUGARMAN'S MIDNIGHT SPECIAL. A channel playing non-stop promtional videos sounded like a risky venture. Rock n roll belonged on the radio. Right?  In the weeks before BENATAR was to release her third album PRECIOUS TIME, YOU BETTER RUN was selected as the second music video to be played by the fledgling network following VIDEO KILLED THE RADIO STAR by THE BUGGLES. Sure, coming in second doesn't sound like that big of a deal but when you keep in mind that BENATAR was the first female artist on MTV and guitarist NEIL GIRALDO was the first ever guitarist on the network,  it's a pretty huge deal.  And what a way to make an entrance! Sporting black vinyl pants, matching black stilleto boots, a candy cane striped top and that sultry pout verging on a snarl, the woman's iconic status was complete.

THE MUSiC ViDEO FOR YOU BETTER RUN!!!


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By the time we get to album number three, BENATAR was rock n roll's premiere coloratura and this time, boyfriend NEIL GIRALDO was finally on the books as co-producer with KEITH OLSEN. Truth be told, this is BENATAR's most consistent album to date with songs that  paint the woman as a rock n roll heroine willing to take on love, life and fame exclusively on her own terms.  This is evidenced by the hits FIRE AND ICE and  the positively torchy PROMISES IN THE DARK, but there is also a world weariness and  a disillusionment with fame that has come into play with songs like the reggaefied IT'S A TUFF LIFE and the slow burn of the title track. Still there were some tricks left over from CRIMES such as the "message" song EVIL GENIUS which tells the tale of a child sociopath with the help of a grand piano and horn section. Then there is the cover HELTER SKELTER , a tribute to the late JOHN LENNON that truly kicks. Oh, and this was BENATAR's only album to reach "number one".

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This slinky little number proved that BENATAR was at the top of her game and it has all of the hallmarks that  make a BENATAR song work.  You have the minor key, the maudlin lyrics that tell of a love so good that's it's bad, a pyrotechnic chorus and GIRALDO's incendiary guitar solo - one of the finest early 80's rock guitar moments. Yes, the queen of hard rock sunk her fangs into this one! Sadly, this classic hasn't been performed live by BENATAR in years. Perhaps the key is too high for her these days? Could the opening line "Ooh you're giving me the fever tonight" be hard for people to believe given her status as a rock n roll mom? Hey, if ALICE COOPER can sing SCHOOL'S OUT at 69 years old, BENATAR can dust this gritty gem off and sing it in front of a live audience again.

THE MUSiC ViDEO FOR FiRE AND iCE!!!


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Three albums in, one could hear a maturation in the songwriting between BENATAR and GIRALDO, and we've not heard rock's coloratura examine a relationship in quite this way before. PROMISES IN THE DARK opens as a down tempo piano ballad. In the opening verse, BENATAR reprimands her lover for thinking with his other brain, but as we've learned in other BENATAR compositions, a relationship can be saved if you put in the effort. Perhaps the song documents the shaky ground that the romantic partnership between BENATAR and GIRALDO was on at the the time. The couple briefly separated before they reconciled and married in 1982. Musically, PROMISES is an urgent rocker that demonstrates a crumbling  relationship with it's false stops and hair trigger tempo changes. The vocal performance from BENATAR herself is incendiary and operatic.

THE MUSiC ViDEO FOR PROMiSES iN THE DARK!!!

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Performance videos were how MTV audiences took in the site and sound of rock's reigning queen.  For those too young to know what a performance video is, it's simply a music video showing a band playing their instruments.  PRECIOUS TIME is BENATAR's first shaky step into making concept videos and the concept for PRECIOUS TIME isn't exactly a high one, but BENATAR - the actress - emerges in this music soap opera of a poor little rich girl trapped by fame. Sadly, no one is ever going to stare into a camera and mouthe the chorus to a song as dramatically as BENATAR does here. Breaking the monotony of  the Beverly Hills boredom  is a scene where guitarist NEIL GIRALDO dresses down as a shirtless sheik in genie pants, armed with a guitar and issuing the song's blistering solo. It was  only  a matter of time before BENATAR would truly go Hollywood with her music videos.

THE MUSiC ViDEO FOR PRECiOUS TiME!!!


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Rock n roll is not about settling down. It's about partying, loud music, notoriety and celebrity. Well, that was the case back in the eighties. After spending the better part of a year away from each other , PAT and NEIL rekindled their romance and flew to Hawaii and got married on the beach before a couple of random witnesses. This wasn't exactly the spectacle that MADONNA and SEAN PENN's wedding generated three years later. These were the days when rock n roll and respectability didn't go together thanks ot the goings on of bands like FLEETWOOD MAC. Not sure what the odds were on this couple back then, but this year, the couple celebrated their 35th wedding anniversary. This is the kind of romance you read about in romance novels or see on a bradway stage or the big screen. No wonder there is talk about making the story of these two into a musical.

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We can credit RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK for it fashionable to fight Nazis again. SHADOWS OF THE NIGHT plays like the type of rebellious, runaway lover anthem that BENATAR was expert at turning into a rock radio hit, but the epic video gives the song a curious interpretation. In it, BENATAR is a ROSIE THE RIVETER-type character who daydreams of jumping into the cockpit of a fighter plane on a covert missionto deliver a TNT payload onto a Nazi fortress. The swashbuckling video is at odds with the vampish image that we've come to know the woman for, but it's a hell of a lot of fun. Look out for appearances from the late-BILL PAXTON and JUDGE REINHOLD.

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The single SHADOWS OF THE NIGHT put the public on notice of the bigger sound that was coming their way with GET NERVOUS. Keyboardist CHARLIE GIORDANO replaced rhythm guitarist SCOTT ST. CLAIR SHEETS and as a result, a new wave varnish dominates the songs here as evidenced by the other singles LOOKING FOR A STRANGER and the stomping LITTLE TOO LATE.  Despite the slight shake up in the sound, the metal chick with a fighting spirit can still be heard on tracks like THE VICTIM, FIGHT IT OUT, I WANT OUT and I"LL DO IT, where BENATAR gives us her finest lyric "I need more than your bedside manner / I need someone to love" These were the songs that should've been the singles. A magazine like ROLLONG STONE was finally onboard with BENATAR and the band at this point and gave the album the coveted four-star rating.

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We would've mentioned BENATAR's live album LIVE FROM EARTH, but the live concert recorded in New Haven for the purposes of an HBO special was truly where all the fun was at.  I still remember being a kid and begging my parents to let me stay up and watch it. Hindsight being what it is, concert recordings on KING BISCUIT FLOWER HOUR sound better than anything you hear on LIVE FROM EARTH or LIVE IN NEW HAVEN, but it's lot of fun seeing hard rocks' reigning queen  strutting like a champ to all of her biggest hits to date. While songs like FIRE AND ICE and HELL IS FOR CHILDREN get an added urgency on a live stage, it's the numbers from GET NERVOUS that truly shine here - namely I WANT OUT. NEIL GIRALDO has bit off more than he can chew in terms of  guitar effects and  CHARLIE GIORDANO on keyboards seems to soften the impact of the music, making these performances sound a little thin. Not helping matters is PAT screaming some of her trademark choruses as opposed to singing them. But PAT's determination and  spunk win the day, making this live set a must see for hardcore fans. Some of her best photographed moments come from this tour.

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MIKE CHAPMAN returned to the BENATAR camp along with songwriter/protege HOLLY KNIGHT with a song that outlines just how troublesome love can be. If BENATAR never had a hit with LOVE IS A BATTLEFIELD, CHRIS NORMAN's version (recorded months before BENATAR's release) would've gone down in music history as a great stripper's anthem with it's pulsating beat reminiscent of WANG CHUNG's DANCEHALL DAYS. Instead, BENATAR's take is remembered for it's BOB GIRALDI-directed music video, and the shoulder shimmy that liberates PAT and  her fellow dime-a-dance girls from their slimey pimp. The drumming was sequenced, the lead guitar had a pop sheen and BENATAR delivered a top ten hit and a true eighties pop classic.

THE MUSiC VIDEO FOR LOVE iS A BATTLEFiELD!!!


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If the wedded bliss between PAT and NEIL was to be taken at more than face value, then it was clear that love was definitely not a battlefield.  Maybe betrayed anger wasn't a theme that needed to be addressed as much as BENATAR progressed in her musical career and a song like WE BELONG  makes all of the sense in the world, not just thematically but on a pop level as well.  This by-the-numbers acoustic ballad by songwriting team LOWEN AND NAVARRO was re-tooled with a haunting synth line and a PHIL SPECTOR/BE MY BABY drum clap. BENATAR's delivery is more measured, even when it comes to the chorus. A kid's choir comes in at the the song's glorious conclusion, but even with a more subdued approach, PAT doesn't get overshadowed. This song should've made it all the way to number one.

THE MUSiC ViDEO FOR WE BELONG!!!


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There comes a time in the evolution of a rock star when the signature sound that propelled them to dizzying heights gets challenged. Will the masses go along with it? Not everyone can be THE BEATLES.  On the heels of  the gentle single WE BELONG came TROPICO, that curious  6th album that didn't come with a tour, a power chord or the rock n roll revelry that typified earlier releases. When we're not treated to such acoustic led fair as the seductive PAINTED DESERT or the haunting OUTLAW BLUES (which should've been a single)  we are given curious synth and percussion driven excercises such as DIAMOND FIELD and the KATE BUSH-esque TEMPORARY HEROES. Sonically, the album is all over the place and that can be disconcerting for a fan  who has grown to love BENATAR for all her rah rah rah. Thirty three years on, the album has aged remarkably. While it's far from essential listening, TROPICO is a curious entry in the BENATAR catalog that is worth at least one go around.

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THE LEGEND OF BILLIE JEAN was a movie that had it all - a beautiful blonde outlaw, a reference to JOAN OF ARC and PETER COYOTE as the law. The movie shrieked mid 1980's cult classic, so who better to issue the punchy, in-your-face rebel rock theme than PAT BENATAR? MIKE CHAPMAN shows up behind the recording console once again for this pop rock delight. The combative, sequenced hard rock sound recalls THE CLASH's ROCK THE CASBAH  and it's knock out chorus ensured it's placement in the top ten. Sadly this would be BENATAR's last single to chart this high.

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Both PAT and NEIL have gone on record stating that SEVEN THE HARD WAY is their least favorite album  due to the rushed atmosphere and pressure from CHRYSALIS RECORDS to get something out there. Most of the songs on this album come from outside writers with very little input from BENATAR, GIRALDO or the drummer MYRON GROMBACHER.  Perhaps that had to do with the race to get the album completed but truthfully, PAT and the band tackling songs from outsiders doesn't hurt this all-too-overlooked album. In fact the songwriting is first rate, but for who? SEX AS A WEAPON is take down on selling sex and the male gaze but would play better as a relationship song performed by BERLIN. LE BEL AGE is an atmospheric, icy, power ballad that would've been just as comfortable on BRYAN FERRY's BOYS AND GIRLS album from that same year. As with TROPICO, sequencing tempers BENATAR's rock sensibility on this album so moments like the bombastic BIG LIFE and RED VISION are most welcome and familiar. The haunting ballad RUN BETWEEN THE RAINDROPS demonstrated what PAT and the band were able to do without record company interference but it gets lost in the shuffle of songs that go for mid-80s MTV acceptance and pop radio readiness.

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In the months before the release of WIDE AWAKE IN DREAMLAND, BENATAR performed at CARNEGIE HALL for a tribute to the late singer-songwriter HARRY CHAPIN. The tribute featured performances from such luminaries as BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN, JUDY COLLINS, RITCHIE HAVENS and PETER YARROW but it was BENATAR that was the  true stand out with her rendition of CHAPIN's ballad SHOOTING STAR, proving that her innate interpretive sense could send a song anywhere. In this case, heaven.

PAT BENATAR PERFORMiNG SHOOTiNG STAR!!!


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By 1988 it had been three years since the industry had heard a peep from BENATAR and in that time, MADONNA's allure had filled the pop firmament, and if you ask us, that was a logical step. BENATAR and MADONNA sang about the same things, it's just that MADONNA relied more on the sensuous bass line of R&B and dance as opposed to guitar riffs.  On the rock side of things, you had HEART and TINA TURNER  reasserting themselves in the REAGAN-era with a slick, demonstrative brand of pop rock. And BELINDA CARLISLE shed her go-go edge for pristine, summery pop tunes. How was BENATAR going to stand out in this new environment?  With the the very kinetic, rock n roll sound that made everybody interested in her in the first place. Yes, ALL FIRED UP is a revelation and a testament to BENATAR's rock n roll heart. "Now I believe there comes a time/When everything just falls in line" The chorus has  self-fulfilling prophecy written between it's lines. All a listener can do is bang their head and cheer the woman on.

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If you were expecting BENATAR to return to the gritty rock n roll of her first three albums after hearing the single ALL FIRED UP, you might want to have a seat.  WIDE AWAKE IN DREAMLAND continues with the glossy, sequenced sound  that was ever-present on the albums TROPICO and SEVEN THE HARD WAY. The only exceptions to this areALL FIRED UP and the gravel stomping rockabilly of LET'S STAY TOGETHER. But don't think that gloss is all that this album has to offer.  PAT and the band return to message music with the moody rocker TOO LONG A SOLDIER and re-visit the subject of  child abuse with SUFFER THE LITTLE CHILDREN. The haunting, percussive hymn CEREBRAL MAN recalls ROBERT PLANT's SHIP OF FOOLS from the same year. The electrifying title track has BENATAR doing her best BILLY IDOL  and the reggaefied ballad ONE LOVE should have been a bigger moment for BENATAR. After a three year hiatus, WIDE AWAKE... wasn't the return to form that would've been most welcome, but the album is a fine entry inthe woman's catalog and shows that one of rock's finest voices still had that kick inside. And we loved her SIGOURNEY WEAVER look on the cover.

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The nineties were a strange time. If anything signaled that things weren't going to be business as usual, it should've been the news that hard rock belter PAT BENATAR was going to be releasing a blues album. We've complained about some of the sequencing in BENATAR's albums from TROPICO to WIDE AWAKE... but with her blues album TRUE LOVE, we are happy to say that sequencing and studio wizardry is replaced with live studio performances featuring the celebrated  big band ROOMFUL OF BLUES.  At times, the results sound like the TONIGHT SHOW BAND and  the tone of the album is largely sweet and sentinmental, but the delivery on BENATAR's part is at least heartfelt and genuine. As songwriters, BENATAR, GIRALDO and drummer MYRON GROMBACHER deserve some credit for their swinging originals I FEEL LUCKY, THE GOOD LIFE and the sultry title track.  Looking back, we wonder what all of the critics were bitching about. Over time, TRUE LOVE is an album that would prove to be ahead of the curve due to it's embrace of swing music years before BRIAN SETZER dreamed of starting up his own big band orchestra. Once again, BENATAR got the ball rolling and never quite got the due she deserved.

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You bring up the name PAT BENATAR now and some will swear up and down that she is still doing blues music. I myself thought that the blues music was there to stay until that one night in May of 1993 when I happened to see that BENATAR was going to be performing on the ARSENIO HALL SHOW.  Because this was years before the internet, I had no way of knowing what the woman and her husband NEIL had been up to. When ARSENIO introduced PAT, I heard  NEIL's crunching rock guitar sound and saw PAT sporting hippie-long locks and sinking her fangs into her latest single EVERYBODY LAY DOWN. Like ALL FIRED UP five years earlier, EVERYBODY... was another revelation. The sentimental charm of TRUE LOVE was over and now BENATAR was taking on the passivity and apathy that seemed to mark much of the grunge that was happening. EVERYBODY LAY DOWN was a battle cry that only the queen of rock n roll could make good on.  The single had a moment on rock radio but then quickly disappeared. Perhaps CHRYSALIS gave up on the woman who made them millions and that's too bad. EVERYBODY LAY DOWN could've marked the return to platinum sales that BENATAR so richly deserved.

PAT BENATAR ON THE ARSENiO HALL SHOW iN 1993!!!


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You could write GRAVITY'S RAINBOW off as BENATAR tossing her hat into the grunge rock scene of the nineties in an attempt to stay relevent, but the album is more than that. It is the straight ahead rock album  that fans wanted her make without all of the keyboard sounds to pretty it up. Grunge was all about stripping down the music and going for a raw sound. That was something BENATAR learned when recording her blues album  and because of that, GRAVITY'S RAINBOW is BENATAR's finest hour since 1981's PRECIOUS TIME. She immediately reconnects with the  her hard rock roots on EVERYBODY LAY DOWN and reminds folks that music with a message has always been her winning formula as it is on SOMEBODY'S BABY - a moody rocker that paints the life of a homeless man.  PAT and NEIL prove that they can get a little rootsy with  songs such as TIES THAT BIND, the rock-a-billy swing of CRAZY and the back porch acoustic blues of RISE PART 2, but the full-throttle rockers are not going be denied such as the headbanging DISCONNECTED, the strutting SANCTAURY or the punk rock menace of TRADIN' DOWN. In 1993, MEATLOAF was the comeback of the year with BAT OUT OF HELL II : BACK INTO HELL, but it would've been nice to see the Queen of  Hard Rock assume her thrown again in  an age of whiny, overbearing Riot Grrrls.

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After leaving the CHRYSALIS label, the GIRALDOS expanded on some of the rootsier elements of GRAVITY'S RAINBOW. This time around, the songs were more acoustic guitar driven with some Hammond B3 and some viola playing in the background. This was 1997 and they were just in time for LILITH FAIR.  On their album INNAMORATA, BENATAR has grown comfortable in the role of songwriter. All of the tracks on INNAMORATA are credited to PAT and NEIL and instead of going for the jugular, they go for a sound that is both mellow and sublime. The bluesy rocker RIVER OF LOVE is the only time PAT shifts into fifth gear. The moody single STRAWBERRY WINE  could've gone head to head with TONIC's IF YOU COULD ONLY SEE. It may run a little too long, but it's the closest thing that INNAMORATA has to a single. The cheeky surf rock of I DON"T WANNA BE YOUR FRIEND shows off some of the old spunk while the gentle ballad PAPA's ROSES takes inspiration from KATHERINE DUNN's  novel GEEK LOVE and tells a tale of  parental alienation. This tender moment shows how far BENATAR has come as a songwriter. This is a million miles away from the days of HEARTBREAKER.  A more subdued PAT BENATAR is an interesting listen, but there are times when a hell-hath-no-fury chorus would be welcome as it is on the album's stomping  closer IN THESE TIMES.

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A kinder, gentler PAT BENATAR came through on 1997's INNAMORATA leaving us wondering if age, combined with wedded bliss would mean more sweet and sublime sentiments to come. Boy were we wrong! Rootsy gentility has been cast aside in favor of the rip roaring sounds of nu metal on GO's opening title cut. GIRALDO's power chords are meaner and slicker than ever and BENATAR is issuing the kind of venom we haven't heard issued in quite a while. And the nu metal flourish just makes it all sound more venomous. The queen of hard rock is angry and betrayed again, but instead of worrying about the GIRALDOS' married life, we feel right at home. I WON'T continues the melodrama established by the title track and leaves a sting it's tail with the chorus "I'd rather die than love you" and HAVE IT ALL is a mid tempo rocker with the kind of chorus that only BENATAR could turn into an anthem. Of course, the GIRALDOS' bag of tricks isn't limited to heavy metal power chords. Their pop smarts come through on the latin-influenced pop rock of SORRY and their singer-songwriter-y instincts across on the moody TELL ME. Gooey sentiment shouldn't have a place on this album but it shows up in the CASIO-powered trip hop ballad PLEASE DON'T LEAVE ME and  the ghost track - the horrid 9/11 tribute CHRISTMAS IN AMERICA. This self-released album deserved a bigger push than it got.  So far, it is the only album to be released by BENATAR in this century.

RELATED LiNKS:

http://www.benatargiraldo.com

http://www.rockwired.com/OrangeRoundPic.jpg BRiAN LUSH (FOUNDER, EDiTOR-iN-CHiEF)
Brian Lush is a music industry professional and entrepreneur. In 2005 he launched the online music site Rockwired.com to help promote new music artists in conjunction with the weekly radio show Rockwired Live which aired on KTSTFM.COM from 2005 - 2009. In 2010 He launched the daily podcast series Rockwired Radio Profiles which features exclusive interviews and music. He has also developed and produced the online radio shows Jazzed and Blue - Profiles in Blues and Jazz, Aboriginal Sounds - A Celebration of American Indian and First Nations Music, The Rockwired Rock N Roll Mixtape Show and The Rockwired Artist of the Month Showcase. In 2012, Brian Lush and his company Rockwired Media LLC launched the monthly digital online publication Rockwired Magazine. The magazine attracts over 75,000 readers a month and shows no signs of stopping. Rockwired Magazine also bares the distinction of being the first American Indian-owned rock magazine. Brian Lush is an enrolled member of the Yankton Sioux Tribe. Brian Lush's background in music journalism, radio and podcast hosting, podcast production, web design, publicity, advertising sales, social media and online marketing, strategic editorial planning and branding have all made Rockwired a name that is trusted and respected throughout the independent music industry.


CONTACT BRiAN LUSH AT: djlush@rockwired.com


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