After blistering the charts — and the airwaves — with six multi-platinum albums in her first six tries, the public’s radar more or less lost contact with Pat Benatar. A much-deserved break between 1985 and 1988 all but erased her memory from a large percentage of music buyers. Returning with “Wide Awake in Dreamland” (The Best Kept Secret of 1988), “True Love” (The Best Kept Secret of 1991), “Gravity’s Rainbow” (The Best Kept Secret of 1993) and “Innamorata” (wait for it…The Best Kept Secret of 1997) Benatar seemed to have softened somewhat from the fire-breathing in-your-face rocker we knew from “In The Heat of The Night” up through “Get Nervous”. This was a happier Pat, a kinder, gentler Pat and it was heartwarming to hear someone who’d given so much to her audience finally sounding like she’d found the sunny side of the street. Still, we did kind of miss the edgy, raw energy of the early years…
No more. It’s back, with interest on “Go”. Even the cover art harks back to the days of “Fire and Ice” and “No You Don’t”. The lyrics to the title track remind us of that long-ago ad in Rolling Stone captioned “Pat Benatar Kicks Ass”, as well as the songs that inspired it. “I Won’t” conjures memories of “I Want Out” (Get Nervous) and remind anybody who might have forgotten that this is NOT a woman to trifle with.
Neil Giraldo continues to defy convention as a guitarist and a composer, keeping us just off-balance on tracks like “Have It All”. Just as quickly, the husband-wife team give us an almost-oratorio with “Out Of The Ruins”, which stirs memories of Benatar’s cover of Kate Bush’s “Wuthering Heights” (Crimes of Passion), and reminds us just why she’s had 25+ years of staying power. Unlike the glam-mill female rock singers so ubiquitous in today’s market, Benatar can actually SING. And while the classically-trained range may have shrunk to the realm of the merely mortal, make no mistake — none of the latest pop diva/goddesses can touch her for true musical ability.
If you’re a long time fan, you’ll find this album as comfortable and familiar as your favorite shirt. If you haven’t yet discovered the force-of-nature power of Pat Benatar, this is a great place to start. And if you came in late (post-1988) this will be a crash course in what you missed — and an incentive to catch up!