Thursday, July 17, 2008

Mr Mike's High School Record Collection: Pat Benatar - Get Nervous (1982)

Lipstick and Leather - Pat Benatar's looking for a stranger

This is the story of two cousins and the Girl Scouts. I have an older cousin who loved Pat Benatar, he painted her picture on his bedroom door and referred to her as "Patty B". I heard a lot of her records at my cousin's house. I also have a slightly younger cousin who was in the Girl Scouts and I think she had some type of deal where she had to convince people to buy records and tapes from a catalog. So my parents gave the OK to order one from her and I picked Pat Benatar's Get Nervous because it had a few songs I liked. And that's how I ended up with my first Pat Benatar tape.

Benatar was a huge rock star at that time. She wore short hair and tight outfits that were copied by young girls as pointed out in the movie Fast Times At Ridgemont High. Benatar also was an Opera trained belter with an extremely powerful voice and great control. On Get Nervous, the last album of her big Arena Rock run, she added a little New Wave flava to her image.

1. Shadows of the Night - The blog Lost in the 80's had a story about how this song was originally recorded by a singer named Rachel Sweet. "Shadows" didn't go to far with Sweet and with Benatar's career momentum just about any song would have been a hit as her lead single. Fortunately, the song turns out to be really good anyway, Benatar's soaring vocal, Neil Geraldo's gnarled guitars and the first of many airy keyboard licks power the Grammy winning tune into overdrive. Best of all, the video included early appearances by actors Judge Reinhold (Fast Times at Ridgemont High) and Bill Paxton (Twister, Aliens). Game over man, game over!

2. Looking For A Stranger - The third single was the upbeat "Stranger" with Benatar giving an appropriately pithy delivery. Keyboardist Charlie Giordano continues to earn his keep with his bubbly organ and flighty synths. In her personal life, Benatar married guitarist / producer Neil Geraldo before this record was released so it wasn't likely she was really "Looking For A Stranger" at that time.

3. Anxiety (Get Nervous) - My favorite track on the record, Benatar had dabbled in New Wave before ("We Live For Love" was an early new wavish single). For this record, Benatar modified her look to a straightjacket and lopsided windswept hair. The urgent almost helicopter sounding guitar riff and stabbing synths add to the tension while Benatar's processed voice creates a dissasociative effect.

4. Fight It Out - A perfect model of Benatar's, um, I mean Patty B's vocal control. She belts out the first half of the chorus and then pulls back to a quieter second half. Songwriter Billy Steinberg (half of the song duo Steinberg / Tom Kelley) co-writes about half the album but spares Benatar any of the oversexed lyrics he gave Madonna and The Divinyls (Steinberg / Kelley wrote "Like A Virgin" and "I Touch Myself" among other big 80's hits).

5. The Victim - Pat Benatar is a rock queen, let her rock I say! And rock she does on "The Victim", a big Arena Rock burst of frantic guitars, icy synths and rolling drums.

6. Little Too Late - My second favorite song and second single. Drummer Myron Grombacher shines with his crash and burn drumming while Patty delivers one of the biggest hooks on the album. I like how she dresses like the tough little New York girl she is in this video, lots of New Yawk 'tude coming through. Are you talkin' to me? Well you must be talkin' to me, I'm the only one here.

7. I'll Do It - A little nondescript on the Rock side, but when I do something I really don't want to the hook to this song sometimes pops in my head. I'll Do It! Poor Patty, always so put upon record after record.

8. I Want Out - ...and the song titles get more generic by the second. "Fire and Ice" this is not, but when I take my Dixie Dog to the bathroom I often imagine she's screaming like this. "I Want Out!!!"

9. Tell It To Her - The song is built on one of those Andy Summer's kind of riffs, where it's kind of light, shimmery and stabby. Not a lot too this song except for the guitar scrape in the verse that sounds kind of like what got used in Radiohead's "Creep". With not much to say, I'll mention the bassist in the band is Roger Capps.

10. Silent Partner - Written by drummer Myron Grombacher, "Partner" is easily the most challenging song on the record. The first verse is a little hesitant and new wavy but gives way to a rapid fire beat for the rest of the way. Very much a "band" song that sounds like one of those tunes where everyone has ideas to throw in to make a sort of group stew (sounds kinda sick, but you know what I mean).

And that wrapped up Get Nervous, yet another Platinum album in Pat Benatar's belt. The song quality falls off shortly after the second side begins but that's common of a lot of people's albums. Benatar would go Adult Contemporary shortly after this record for a few more hits, but the move ultimately undermined her career as an Arena Rocker. There are some generic moments in the record yet in the end you know you're hearing a record even a mother can love. Like Pat Benatar's mother in the advertisement below!

Pat Benatar Get Nervous commercial


Some Kinda Wonderful said...

Not much on this album for me, but that song "Little Too Late" is my all time favorite PB song. It rocks. I would have bought the record just for that song, but my sister beat me too it. :)

Arsenette said...

I'm more of "Shadows of the Night" person.. I can't watch the video though.. it's stupid.. she was never gifted in actually doing good videos LOL So I turn it on.. and switch my sight to somethign else and go back to singing :p I love Pat Benetar though.

Mr. Mike said...

Hi Everyone! I have to agree with both of you in that Shadows of the Night and Little Too Late were the highlights here. This was an odd album to me in that I thought I would have a lot to say about it when I found it in the $3.00 bin. I still like it, but found it didn't quite measure up to my memories of the cassette when I wrote about it.

I like the part about Pat Benatar not gifted in doing good videos-I agree, she makes really bad ones. Like in Love is a Battlefield, when she looks 30 but she's supposed to be a teenager and her dad says "You leave this house!" It's like, Dad, she's 30. She owns a house. She doesn't need your house as long as she can taxi dance and throw her shoulders around at greasy hustlers.