Almanac Music: At Long Last Benatar!

 

At Long Last Benatar!

 

 

Cover of Pat Benatar’s In the Heat of the Night album, 1979. [Wikipedia.]

 

I’m not a particularly big fan of the USA Rock and Roll Hall of Fame – without going into detail here, the Rock Hall have inducted some strange choices over the years, for one thing, and not included other artists that seemed like lay-down misères. However, when a performer I especially like, with a solid career behind them, receives inclusion I do think it’s notable and adds something to the credibility of the overall institution.

 

This year’s inductions to the Hall of Fame included one such person: Pat Benatar, inducted (belatedly, some would say) at the Los Angeles ceremony on November 7, alongside her lead guitarist husband and sometime songwriter and producer, Neil Giraldo. Between 1979 and 2003, Benatar recorded eleven studio albums. Across her career until now, there have also been numerous greatest hits and live albums released, and a number of post-2003 singles. She has continued to perform live up to the present.

 

Benatar was one of those musical highlights of my late teens: attractive, possessing a powerful voice and wide range, with a band that produced rock music with an edge – her records sounded great loud. She announced herself to me with her first album In the Heat of Night (1979), which included songs like ‘Heartbreaker, ‘Rated X’ and my favourite, ‘We Live for Love’, written by Neil Giraldo – the opening lines of this song have been embedded in my mind since I was seventeen or eighteen: Your love’s contagious / One kiss is dangerous …

 

I’ve found over the years that a good test of music I really like is me buying the album close to the time it was originally released, and I did so in the case of In the Heat of the Night.

 

 

 

 

Benatar’s second album, Crimes of Passion (1980), also included some fine material, such as its best-known hit, the rocker ‘Hit Me with Your Best Shot’, written by Eddie Schwartz, highlighted by its incredibly catchy chorus. The album also possesses a wonderful version of Kate Bush’s ‘Wuthering Heights’, where Benatar’s vocal chops are certainly up to the demands of its difficult, wandering melody.

 

 

 

 

‘Love is a Battlefield’, written by Mike Chapman and Holly Knight, was a single released from Benatar’s live album Live from Earth (1983), her fifth album, even though the song was actually recorded in the studio. Though it still had guitars and drums, it wasn’t like much of Benatar’s former material, in that it was orientated around an electronic dance feel.

 

 

 

 

‘We Belong’, written by David Eric Lowen and Dan Navarro, a single from Benatar’s fifth studio album, Tropico (1984), is perhaps my favourite of all songs performed by her – with a softer, more indie sound, in comparison to the hard edge rock of much of her previous work. This song’s lovely, articulate lyrics are also a feature. What a fine chorus, for example:

 

We belong to the light, we belong to the thunder
We belong to the sound of the words we’ve both fallen under
Whatever we deny or embrace for worse or for better
We belong, we belong, we belong together

 

The song is also beautifully melodic, and possesses some recurring, irresistible, fractured rhythms.

 

 

 

 

With ‘All Fired Up’, written by Australian (ex-Dingoes) Kerryn Tolhurst, a single from the Wide Awake in Dreamland album (1988), it’s back to catchy rock for Benatar. It has a chorus that’s hard to top in this context:

 

All fired up (now I believe there comes a time)
All fired up (when everything just falls in line)
All fired up (we live an’ learn from our mistakes)
All fired up, fired up, fired up (the deepest cuts are healed by faith)

 

 

 

 

Kudos to a wonderful artist whose work has stood the test of time!

 

 

[Note: Wikipedia has been an invaluable reference in relation to the basic details of Benatar’s career and songs.]

 

 

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About

Kevin Densley is a graduate of both Deakin University and The University of Melbourne. He has taught writing and literature in numerous Victorian universities and TAFES. He is a poet and writer-in-general. His fifth book-length poetry collection, Please Feed the Macaws ... I'm Feeling Too Indolent, was published in late 2023 by Ginninderra Press. He is also the co-author of ten play collections for young people, as well as a multi Green Room Award nominated play, Last Chance Gas, which was published by Currency Press. Other writing includes screenplays for educational films.

Comments

  1. Ah, my old friend Pat Benatar.

    In secondary school, I had a massive crush on Pat B, and was a huge fan of her voice and her music.
    Simply, a superb singer with a huge vocal range. I still have all her albums on vinyl.
    I have not listened to Pat B for many years, but may do so this week, for old time’s sake.

    One point: back in the day, I often hoped that she might break free of Geraldo’s influence and record music without him, as his guitars were such a dominant part of her overall sound. It would have been interesting to hear her out front of totally different musicians.

    Thanks for this reminder, KD.

  2. Kevin Densley says

    Cheers, Smokie – thanks for your response.

    I was a bit like you regarding Pat Benatar, way back when, in that I had a crush on her, too. I don’t think we were Robinson Crusoe in that respect.

    But yes, her voice was the fundamental thing, though, wasn’t it? – such a powerful instrument in such a small individual.

    I do agree regarding Giraldo – some time away from him musically (as opposed to their long-term personal relationship) might have produced some interesting results.

  3. Tony Forbes says

    I have the album featured. Also like her cover of John Mellencamps ‘I need a lover (who won’t drive me crazy)’

  4. Kevin Densley says

    Thanks for the response, Tony. Yes, I like that version, too – Benatar’s fabulous voice could do justice to so many songs in the rock repertoire, I reckon.

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