Category Archives: Cassette Chronicles

The Cassette Chronicles – Krokus’ ‘Headhunter’

By JAY ROBERTS

The Cassette Chronicles is a continuing series of mini reviews and reflections on albums from the 1980’s and 1990’s. The aim of this series is to highlight both known and underappreciated albums from rock, pop and metal genres from this time period through the cassette editions of their releases. Some of the albums I have known about and loved for years, while others are new to me and were music I’ve always wanted to hear. There will be some review analysis and my own personal stories about my connection with various albums. These opinions are strictly my own and do not reflect the views of anyone else at Limelight Magazine.

KROKUS – HEADHUNTER (1983)

You would think that a band that has released twenty albums over more than a forty year career would have made a pretty deep impression on me. But in the case of the Swiss rockers Krokus, that would be a false assumption.

If you’d asked me to name one of their albums, I likely wouldn’t have been able to do it. For whatever reason I never found my way into attaching my fandom to the band beyond the song “Screaming In The Night”. Beyond that, I have to own up to being essentially ignorant.

So when I dug Headhunter out of the “Big Box of Cassettes”, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I knew the band had kind of an AC/DC thing going for it with singer Marc Storace sounding an awful lot like he was auditioning for that particular band.

After listening to the album, I’m still not quite sure what to make of Krokus. The album opens up with two highly energetic and fast paced rock tracks. The title track has a particularly quick stepping feel to it. Both “Eat The Rich” and “Ready To Burn” are also charged rockers.

Headhunter features that classic “Screaming In The Night”, so it was pretty fun to hear that again. The song still gets airplay on classic rock radio stations and specialty programming shows, but it isn’t overplayed. Thus, when I have heard it on the radio, the power ballad still does have a specialness to it.

As for the second side of the album, things started out well with the opening “Night Wolf”. The song’s slow rolling intro gives way to a rocket fuel ride of a track. I thought Storace’s vocals were particularly enjoyable on this song. There was an added edgy snarl to his vocal delivery which made sense given the song’s lyrical content.

But then the band decided to include a cover of the Bachman-Turner Overdrive song “Stayed Awake All Night”. I’ve never really thought much of the original version of the song and Krokus didn’t accomplish anything that would be considered improving upon that original. It laid there flat and empty, a soulless attempt to curry favor with a song that admittedly many others have loved but I find a trying slog.

“Stand And Be Counted” was a decent enough rocker. I’d love to give you my first impressions on “White Din” and “Russian Winter”, but in all honesty, I fell asleep before the songs played. But when I woke up, I went back and listened to them both. I thought “White Din” was a bit of a futile waste of time. However, “Russian Winter” is actually a killer track. Even though the song is just over three and a half minutes, Krokus manages to give the song an epic feel to it. It feels like a longer song and I mean that in a good way. Fast paced and heavy, with a soundtrack that runs through your brain and a really great vocal turn from Storace, this is a great song!

Now, I know I said I don’t know what to make of the band. The album has some great highlights and not that many lows. But, while as a singular experienc I enjoyed the album, I can’t rightly decide if it makes me want to seek out more material from Krokus or not. Headhunter is good, but is it good enough to convert me into a long delayed fandom for the band? I just don’t know. I do have another Krokus album that will be featured in this series down the line, perhaps that will go a long ways towards answering my question.

Until that time, Headhunter does have a pretty solid pedigree and it was nice to finally get to experience a full album’s worth of material from Krokus.

NOTES OF INTEREST – The album was produced by Tom Allom, who is best known for producing a number of albums by Judas Priest. The song “Ready To Burn” features backing vocals from Judas Priest singer Rob Halford.

Jimi Jamison, who would go on to find his biggest fame with Survivor, also provided backing vocals for the album.

The band will embark on a career-ending farewell tour in 2019.

The Cassette Chronicles – Cinderella’s ‘Long Cold Winter’

By JAY ROBERTS

The Cassette Chronicles is a continuing series of mini reviews and reflections on albums from the 1980’s and 1990’s. The aim of this series is to highlight both known and underappreciated albums from rock, pop and metal genres from this time period through the cassette editions of their releases. Some of the albums I have known about and loved for years, while others are new to me and were music I’ve always wanted to hear. There will be some review analysis and my own personal stories about my connection with various albums. These opinions are strictly my own and do not reflect the views of anyone else at Limelight Magazine.

CINDERELLA – LONG COLD WINTER (1988)

As I wrote in my write up on the first Cinderella album Night Songs, I really wasn’t all that into the first two albums from the band. However, much like the case with that first album, I’ve had to do a major rethink about Long Cold Winter after listening to it again thirty years after the fact. I suppose better late than never would apply here, but I really need to go back in time and have a long musical discussion with my 18 year old self about the music I ignored.

While Long Cold Winter did have four songs that were released as singles, I can’t remember really being blown away by the rest of the tracks on the album. I loved the hits, but given what at the time I perceived to be just a bunch of filler material to round out the album, the album was doomed to eventually find its way out of my music collection.

Jump forward from 1988 to 2018, and it looks like I owe a large mea culpa to the band…AGAIN! The band started moving even more away from most of the glam sound on this album, even moreso than album #1. This shift was immediately on display with the opening song “Bad Seamstress Blues / Fallin’ Apart At The Seams”. The first part of the song was this really cool dead on bluesy intro. Mostly guitar with a little one verse lyrical passage, it really resonated with me and left me with the sinking feeling that I was going to be giving myself a mental head slap when all was said and done. The second part of the song is a rocking stomp that had me writing a note saying “This is a GREAT song!”

I mentioned that there were four songs that got released as singles. The album was front loaded with three of those songs. You had “Gypsy Road,” which despite being the song that charted the lowest out of the four, might just be my favorite song on the entire album. Listening to the album while reading the lyric sheet really gave me that new appreciation for Tom Keifer’s writing ability all over again. Other than one co-writing credit for bassist Eric Brittingham, Keifer wrote all the songs on this album.

When the band initially released “Don’t Know What You Got (Till It’s Gone),” I kind of found myself annoyed by it. However, as I listened to it now, I got the chance to go deeper into the lyrics and found myself suddenly being really digging the song. It was like I was hearing it with new ears or something. Maybe because the lyrics resonated with me due to my pathetically sad social life at this current point in life, but whatever the reason. I actually enjoyed the song a lot. 

And you can’t leave out “The Last Mile”, another rocking run through for the band. I do have to say that I was kind of disappointed by the closing song on the first side of the album. It’s called “Second Wind” but it actually did more to take the wind out of the sails of the album for a bit. It’s got a cool guitar solo and a long musical outro, but otherwise there was something missing with this number and I found myself feeling adrift while listening to the song.

The title track of the album opens up side two and while it had some really ballsy guitar work, I thought it failed to establish what seemed to be a moody atmospheric feel to the song. It left me cold (no pun intended) and I instantly hoped things would not be headed in the wrong direction with the rest of Side Two.

Thankfully, my fears were unfounded as “If You Don’t Like It” roared out of the speakers, with its butt-kicking ferociousness giving an instant jolt of energy. I really liked how the lyrics were so defiant and in your face. 

“Coming Home” was a mid tempo power ballad and the album’s third single. I enjoyed the song then and now. “Fire and Ice” was a bit of a surprise for me because it definitely fell under the banner of filler for me when I first listened to this album back in the day. But whether it was the song or myself that matured over the last three decades, the track has grown on me.

Cinderella closed out Long Cold Winter with a bang on the track “Take Me Back”. It’s a lyrical nostalgia trip down memory lane set to a rocking soundtrack. It’s a flat out great song but what really got me excited was how Keifer’s vocals/lyrics really flowed throughout the track, particularly on the chorus. 

It seems that once again, I’ve unearthed evidence that I failed to appreciate what was right in front of me all these years. While the notion of filler material isn’t completely dispelled for me because of the two songs I still really could do without, Long Cold Winter is actually far better than I ever gave it credit for upon its original release.  

NOTES OF INTEREST: The album initially went double platinum and was eventually certified triple platinum.

While Fred Coury was the drummer for Cinderella, like the first album, he did not play a single note on Long Cold Winter. Instead, the drums were recorded by Denny Carmassi (Heart) and Cozy Powell (Rainbow, amongst a host of other notable bands).

The Cassette Chronicles – Accept’s self-titled debut

By JAY ROBERTS

The Cassette Chronicles is a continuing series of mini reviews and reflections on albums from the 1980’s and 1990’s. The aim of this series is to highlight both known and underappreciated albums from rock, pop and metal genres from this time period through the cassette editions of their releases. Some of the albums I have known about and loved for years, while others are new to me and were music I’ve always wanted to hear. There will be some review analysis and my own personal stories about my connection with various albums. These opinions are strictly my own and do not reflect the views of anyone else at Limelight Magazine.

ACCEPT – ACCEPT  (1979)

While the stated time span of this series is the 80’s and ’90s, you’ll note that this article on the self-titled debut album from Accept dates to 1979. So it falls just outside of the parameters, but since the cassette edition I have appears to be a bargain basement reissue from 1986 (there’s even a “special bargain price” stamped onto the cover art), I’m fine with this slight exception. 

Now, it should be noted from the top that I’m a huge fan of the band. Three of their last four albums have ended up as my top album of the year they were released, and the fourth one came in at #2.

But in the interest of full disclosure, my Accept fandom didn’t start until the first time I heard the “Balls To The Wall” song. Given that came off the album of the same name, the band was on their fifth release before I was even aware of their existence.

Unlike a lot of bands that I “discover”, I have never really gone back to Accept’s earliest days to explore where they came from musically to where they are now. Until now that is.

The band’s first album has been less than charitably described by both singer Udo Dirkschneider and Wolf Hoffman. The common refrain seems to be that while it gave the band the ability to further their career, the songs weren’t really all that focused in one direction and the production was less than ideal.

I can see what they mean but at the same time, there are some rather interesting songs on the album. The first thing you notice at the start of the release is that the band has more of a straight up rock and roll sound as opposed to the more metallic nature fans have come to know in the last three plus decades. 

The first two songs, “Lady Lou” and “Tired Of Me”, are both quickly paced numbers. Both songs are good enough in their own right I suppose but truthfully they don’t really seem to have much staying power. It was actually track three, “Seawinds”, that struck me as the first strong track on the album. It’s a ballad but I found it rather a cool sounding track. It’s not like Accept has never done a ballad before and they do tend to have some good ones. For me, I’d add “Seawinds” to that list.

But never fear metal fans, because the rock and roll sound soon starts to give way to a heavier, more metal sound with “Take Him In My Heart”. The vocal performance on the song might strike you a bit odd at first because it seems totally out of character with what you might know of Udo’s vocal style but in the end this is just a very interesting song. And the scream from Udo at the end is a prime metal howl. As for the last song on the first side of the album, “Sounds Of War” really kicks in with a more metallic overtone as it races from start to finish.

Side two really has something going for it as the songwriting gets faster, heavier and far more aggressive. “Free Me Now” and “That’s Rock ‘N’ Roll” are straight up metal songs and if I could still headbang like a madman, that’s what I would’ve been doing.

I wasn’t crazy about the song “Glad To Be Alone”. It’s a plodding slog of a track at the start and while it does get faster as the song progresses, if I was to pick one song that best defines the band’s dissatisfaction with the album, it would be this one. It’s just a momentum killer for me.

Thankfully, the last two songs are once again fast paced and give an electrical charge to the ears and hearts of metal fans. “Helldriver” and “Street Fighter” are simple straight forward rockers with attitude to spare.

It’s funny to think that I liked this album better than the people who created it. But if beauty is in the eye of the beholder, then music must be in the ears of the listener. For me, Accept is where the nascent band first started showing signs of the future that was to come for them. The production may be raw and the songwriting may be less focused than what the band would’ve liked as they look back on it. However, for me this was one heck of an entertaining look at the very earliest days of one of my favorite bands.

NOTES OF INTEREST: Frank Friedrich played drums on Accept but according to Wikipedia, he decided against a career as a professional musician. Stefan Kaufmann was hired as his replacement before the album was released.

Bassist Peter Baltes sang lead on “Seawinds” and “Sounds Of War”.  

 

The Cassette Chronicles – CINDERELLA’S ‘NIGHT SONGS’

By JAY ROBERTS

The Cassette Chronicles is a continuing series of mini reviews and reflections on albums from the 1980’s and 1990’s. The aim of this series is to highlight both known and underappreciated albums from rock, pop and metal genres from this time period through the cassette editions of their releases. Some of the albums I have known about and loved for years, while others are new to me and were music I’ve always wanted to hear. There will be some review analysis and my own personal stories about my connection with various albums. These opinions are strictly my own and do not reflect the views of anyone else at Limelight Magazine.

CINDERELLA – NIGHT SONGS (1986)

It has been 32 years since the release of Cinderella’s debut album Night Songs and with the benefit of all that time having passed, hindsight is indeed 20/20. 

I owned the album back when it was released but I have to say that beyond the three best known songs on the album (“Shake Me”, “Nobody’s Fool” and “Somebody Save Me”), I remember being rather unimpressed by the material. The album just sat in my collection gathering dust until I got rid of it. For me, it was their third album, Heartbreak Station, that did the trick for me. That album remains my favorite release from the group.

But on a recent music buying excursion, I came across both Night Songs and Long Cold Winter on cassette and figured I had to pick them up and give a new listen to the album to see what I thought. What I found was that time has seemingly improved my taste because I have a newfound love of Night Songs.

Despite having a classic rock and straight up metal sound, the band was cast alongside the rest of the 80’s glam metal era. It might just have been a function of the prevailing tastes of the time, but it does strike me now as a big mistake.

The title track opens the album and while the uptempo pacing of the track gives an immediate jolt of energy to the listener, I wasn’t blown away by it. I thought it wasn’t the song to best represent the band.  But the next two songs were “Shake Me” and “Nobody’s Fool”, so suddenly the album was kicked into a higher gear. “Shake Me” was the first single released off the album and though it didn’t make the singles chart, it is simply a great in your face rocker. As for “Nobody’s Fool”, that was a monster hit on the charts and is pretty much the main reason why the album is now certified triple platinum. It’s the only song that can legitimately be thought of as a “power ballad”, but it is actually quite a bit more weighty than the more cloying aspects of the song genre.

I really dug the album track “Nothin’ For Nothin'”, which was another quickly paced song. The first side of the album closed out with “Once Around The Ride”. It’s another rocker and musically speaking, I really loved the track. It’s got a really good guitar solo. The only thing that holds back a full throated endorsement of the song from me is that I didn’t like the phrasing on the vocals during the chorus.

The second side of Night Songs opens with two hugely entertaining rockers. “Hell On Wheels” may not be a “greatest hit” track for the band, but I loved it. And “Somebody Save Me” might be one of the best known songs the band has but listening to it for this article gave me a newfound appreciation and love of the song.

All the songs on the album are written by frontman Tom Keifer and this new spin of the album has also opened my eyes more than I could’ve expected to his songwriting ability. This aspect of his talent may have gotten overshadowed in the 80’s metal era of excess, but the guy can write!

Side two of the album is actually all killer, no filler if you really want to know the truth. I loved the bouncy rhythm to “In From The Outside”, the straight up rocking nature of “Push, Push” and I think the closing “Back Home Again” is the best example of the direction the band would take for Heartbreak Station. The more focused bluesy sound shines through a lot on this track and left me wondering how I managed to not clearly see what the band was all about the first time around.

I’m not a fan of change. I like being in a rut and freely acknowledge that I’m a creature of habit. But on occasion, change is a good thing when it opens your eyes to something you should’ve seen the first time around. When it was originally released I didn’t think all that much of Night Songs. After three plus decades, I’ve found that I’ve come around and have to declare that I was apparently everybody’s fool all these years because this album is chock full of prime rock and roll. If you haven’t heard the album in years or never listened to it at all, you’d be doing yourself a favor by discovering for yourself exactly what I’m talking about here.

NOTES OF INTEREST: Drummer Fred Coury joined the band after the recording of the album. All drum tracks for the album were played by Jody Cortez. Cortez has played with the liked of Boz Scaggs, David Crosby, Christopher Cross and a host of other acts since his time in Cinderella.

The keyboards on the album were played by Jeff Paris. Among his credits, he co-wrote Vixen’s two biggest hits “Edge of a Broken Heart” and “Cryin'”.

Jon Bon Jovi provided backing vocals on “Nothin’ For Nothin'” and “In From The Outside”.

The Cassette Chronicles – Kiss’ ‘Animalize’

By JAY ROBERTS

The Cassette Chronicles is a continuing series of mini reviews and reflections on albums from the 1980’s and 1990’s. The aim of this series is to highlight both known and underappreciated albums from rock, pop and metal genres from this time period through the cassette editions of their releases. Some of the albums I have known about and loved for years, while others are new to me and were music I’ve always wanted to hear. There will be some review analysis and my own personal stories about my connection with various albums. These opinions are strictly my own and do not reflect the views of anyone else at Limelight Magazine.

KISS – ANIMALIZE (1984)

It may come as a bit of a surprise but I never really owned many Kiss albums growing up. As a kid, it wasn’t like I was allowed to listen to the band’s output in the 70’s. But even when I started making my own musical choices, I really only owned the Crazy Nights album.

This isn’t to say that I didn’t hear some the songs but the band really wasn’t a priority to start getting their albums. I’ve got a friend down in Texas that would probably consider that last sentence a rather large piece of blasphemy but there it is. 

Recently though, I’ve started picking up some of the cheap remastered editions of a few albums. I’ve liked a lot of what I’ve heard but the most recent CD I picked up was the Rock And Roll Over album. That one has the classic track “Calling Dr. Love”. Unfortunately, it is really the only song that stood out to me. I was quite disappointed in the album.

So when I picked up this cassette edition of Animalize, I had hopes that it would get the sour taste of Rock And Roll Over out of my mouth. I wouldn’t say this was a total success, but the album certainly had far more high points than the other album.

The first side opens strongly with “I’ve Had Enough (Into The Fire)”, a fast paced rocker that certainly does the job of capturing the attention of listeners. That leads into the big hit track from the album “Heaven’s On Fire”. This is a huge song for me. I love it. It remains one of my all-time favorite Kiss songs. It did pretty well on the charts as a single but that aside, it is just the best example of combining a standout rock soundtrack and a big commercial hook and chorus.

The rest of side one was a bit more of a slog for me though. Musically speaking, “Burn Bitch Burn” is pretty interesting but lyrically it was just a demonstration of the band’s inability to grasp the notion of subtlety. The last two songs were simply not what I would consider all that great.

Side two opens with a blazingly aggressive “Under The Gun”. I don’t recall having ever heard the  song before but now that I have, I really love it. Seriously, this one really got me all fired up. “Thrills In The Night” was another uptempo track and I liked this one as well. I thought the chorus was a bit better than the main lyrical passages but still, it was a fun listen. 

Of course, things went downhill for me on “While The City Sleeps” which is just flat in all respects. The album closed out with “Murder In High Heels” which was the second song on the album to fall under the banner of “musically interesting” but lacked the cohesive whole because of the lyrics.

At the time of this album’s recording, Gene Simmons was off chasing acting dreams. This left Paul Stanley in the lead position for the album’s direction. Whether this was for the good or the bad, you can decide for yourself. I know there are a lot of detractors for this particular time in the band’s career as they moved more towards the prevailing trend of glam metal that was growing in the mid 80’s but I’ve always liked the era so that might be a pretty good explanation for why I enjoyed the album’s better songs. Sure you can wish all the songs were uniformly great but you can’t have everything, right?

Still, Animalize was a decent album and considering it was certified platinum in the US, a lot of people seemed to enjoy what Kiss offered as heaven burned.

NOTES OF INTEREST: Mark St. John was the lead guitarist on Animalize. It is his only recorded music with the band as he left the band due to health issues in November 1984.

Bruce Kulick, who would replace St. John as the band’s lead guitarist, actually played lead on two of the songs on Animalize, “Lonely Is The Hunter” and “Murder In High Heels”.

The Cassette Chronicles – Kix’s self-titled debut

By JAY ROBERTS

The Cassette Chronicles is a continuing series of mini reviews and reflections on albums from the 1980’s and 1990’s. The aim of this series is to highlight both known and underappreciated albums from rock, pop and metal genres from this time period through the cassette editions of their releases. Some of the albums I have known about and loved for years, while others are new to me and were music I’ve always wanted to hear. There will be some review analysis and my own personal stories about my connection with various albums. These opinions are strictly my own and do not reflect the views of anyone else at Limelight Magazine.

KIX – KIX (1981)

The self-titled debut album from Kix certainly does illustrate the notion that greatness can come from humble beginnings. 

Leading up to this album, the band gigged constantly and became one of the best live acts in the state of Maryland. The lineup of Steve Whiteman (vocals), Ronnie Younkins (guitar), Brian Forsythe (guitar), Donnie Purnell (bass) and Jimmy Chalfant (drums) had to be one of the most in sync lineups you could possibly imagine by the time they got around to recording this album.

Unfortunately for me, that doesn’t necessarily translate into that great of an album. I’ve never heard the Kix album until listening to it for this article. Hell, when it was released I was still two or three years away from even being a rock/metal fan. But if I’d heard it back then, I’m pretty sure I would not have liked it.

The first side of the album struck me as just being mostly abysmal. This strikes me funny as the songs “Atomic Bomb”, “Love At First Sight” and “The Itch” were considered live favorites in the band’s concerts at the time. I suppose “Love At First Sight” would’ve been a better song for me if the vocals from Whiteman during the chorus hadn’t been rather annoyingly too high pitched. As for the other two songs, they may have had the requisite uptempo pacing but they both just felt flat. Meanwhile, “Heartache” sounded like a pure pop song (in the most negative connotation) that added some rock guitar in a bid to sound more macho. To put in modern day terms, imagine Justin Bieber trying to gain even a shred of musical credibility, and you have this song.

All is not lost on Side One though as I did find the song “Poison” rather enjoyable.

By the time the first side of the album finished playing, I was kind of dreading finishing listening to this album. I just really didn’t like most of what I was hearing. Article be damned, I didn’t want to punish my ear drums for no good reason. But I flipped the cassette over and soldiered on.

This act of musical “bravery” on my part paid off handsomely though as Side Two was a far better representation of what Kix can do when they are on the mark.  The second half of the album opens up with the best song on the release, “Kix Are For Kids”. I know that the song title incorporating the two breakfast cereals (Kix and Trix) might lend a certain corniness to the song, but this is one kick ass rocker! The band follows that up with another great rocker in “Contrary Mary”. “The Kid” is a slightly less potent sounding rocker, but still pretty decent. The album closes with “Yeah Yeah Yeah”. It’s another song that was a favorite in the band’s live set at the time. It starts out great but the spoken word section in the middle of the song robs the track of a lot of its energy. This is an opinion I’m sure is not shared by all, but for me it closes things out on a sour note.

As the saying goes, you have to start somewhere. And while I’m not overly enamored with this first Kix album, it is an interesting experience to go through. I can’t say I enjoyed most of the music, but when the band really nabbed my interest on certain songs, I could see the origins for their later releases that I’ve come to love.

NOTE OF INTEREST: The album was produced by Tom Allom, who is perhaps best known for being the producer of 11 albums by Judas Priest.

PUBLISHER’S NOTE: Kix will perform in The Vault at Greasy Luck in New Bedford, MA, on April 6, 2019. Purchase tickets HERE.

 

THE CASSETTE CHRONICLES – LAURA BRANIGAN’S self-titled release

By JAY ROBERTS

The Cassette Chronicles is a continuing series of mini reviews and reflections on albums from the 1980’s and 1990’s. The aim of this series is to highlight both known and underappreciated albums from rock, pop and metal genres from this time period through the cassette editions of their releases. Some of the albums I have known about and loved for years, while others are new to me and were music I’ve always wanted to hear. There will be some review analysis and my own personal stories about my connection with various albums. These opinions are strictly my own and do not reflect the views of anyone else at Limelight Magazine.

LAURA BRANIGAN – LAURA BRANIGAN (1990)

Laura Branigan is a guilty pleasure of mine that I don’t really feel all that guilty about liking. On this 1990 release, she finds herself once again mining a decidedly more adult contemporary musical bent, though she doesn’t completely abandon the pop/dance type sound that made her famous in the early 80’s either.

In fact, the album’s first two singles managed to give her a bit of a hit on both of those musical charts. The first single, “Moonlight On The Water”, kicked off the album and despite my opinion that it felt more like an adult pop song with a style that worked, it actually turned out to be a dance hit for Branigan. 

Meanwhile, “Never In A Million Years” did hit the Adult Contemporary charts. After listening to that song, I can understand why. The song is a ballad and given how picky I am about those songs these days, it is always a tricky needle to thread to get me to enjoy them. But this song was immensely enjoyable. Branigan’s vocal performance on this song is my favorite on the album. She put every possible ounce of emotion into the work and came out with one of the best songs of her catalog. 

I wish that I could say more nice things about the rest of the songs on Side One of the album but sadly, the increased level of maturity in how the album sounds didn’t necessarily lend itself to the material itself being all great all the time. The one remaining noteworthy thing about Side One was the pounding beat in “Let Me In” (which was originally recorded by Eddie Money). However, I can’t decide if it should be considered hypnotic or just sleep inducing. I have to admit, I felt myself nodding off during this one.

As for Side Two, Branigan gets things started with a cover of the Vicki Sue Robinson disco hit “Turn The Beat Around”. I don’t know how much of my metal cred I will lose for saying this but I really did quite enjoy Branigan’s rendition. The song “Unison” took a bit for me to get into it but it does grow on you. I was somewhat disappointed in the two ballads on Side Two. “No Promise, No Guarantee” was rather ineffective throughout the song’s running time. The more forceful approach at the end of the song did little to improve my thoughts on the track. As for Branigan’s cover of the Bryan Adams song “The Best Was Yet To Come”, it just didn’t really come together fully for me. The slow nature of the song did lend itself to Branigan’s vocals but despite the dramatic assist from a boys choir as backing vocalists, the song felt antiseptic to me.

Of course then you have a song like “Reverse Psychology” which is a fast paced number with a pure pop song delivery. I liked the track and despite its problematic title for what you’d expect for a song on the pop charts, this really could’ve been a breakout hit in my book.

This was the second to last full length album from Laura Branigan and it continues the trend of Branigan being more involved in the creation of the songs she’s singing. At times, she’s turning out some great work and then there are the songs that really didn’t work for me. It is a little disappointing that there wasn’t more to like but I do really enjoy those songs where she is at the top of her game.

NOTES OF INTEREST: This was the first album of Branigan’s that did not produce a top 40 single for the Billboard chart.  The singer co-produced three of the songs on the album. They were “Let Me In”, “Turn The Beat Around” and “The Best Was Yet To Come”. 

“Unison” was also covered by Celine Dion the same year that Branigan did it and it became a big hit off her first English language album.

Peter Wolf produced “Never In A Million Years” and “No Promise, No Guarantee”. He played all the instruments on both songs except for the guitars.