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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Suzi Quatro

The Albums 1980-1986

Review by Gary Hill

This collection gathers up three albums from Suzi Quatro that were released in the 1980s. I guess you could probably get that from the title, right? Let's talk about the packaging for this collection first. It comes in a cardboard clamshell box. Each CD is in its own small cardboard record cover sleeve. It includes an extensive and informative booklet packed with lots of photos. The first two CDs each include one bonus track, while the third one has five.

Turning our attention to the music, I have to say that like Quatro's sound. She does have a tendency on this set to take the safe route a lot of the time. That said, there seems to be a certain amount of searching for a sound. We get everything from mainstream pop music, country leaning tunes, new wave, dance music, Jimmy Buffett styled sounds and more. There are a lot of tracks here that really stand out as quite strong, and nothing is what I'd consider weak. It's an intriguing selection that is quite effective overall.

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Track by Track Review
Disc 1 - Rock Hard
Rock Hard

Drums start the album, and the song comes in with a punky edge from there. This reminds me a little of The Runaways. There is plenty of old school rock and roll in this, and I can make out hints of things like The Sweet.

Glad All Over

This cover has a real Runaways meets Sweet feeling to it. It's a fun tune, but loses a lot of the oomph of the original.

Love Is Ready
Even more pup-angled, this still has a rock angle to it. It's not bad, but also nothing all that special.
State of Mind
More energized and rocking as it comes out of the gate, this drops to a more balladic vibe for the verse. I dig the mix of dramatic rock and hints of old-school rock and roll. The more rocking parts make me think of a combination of UFO and Thin Lizzy while the dropped back sections call to mind Tommy James. This is one of the highlights of this first CD. I dig the almost punky guitar fills, too.
Woman Cry
There is a lot of old school rock and roll on this tune. It has a real retro vibe along with some reggae backing vocals. I'm not really won over by this one. It's not bad. It just doesn't grab me.
The guitar sound on this is meaty. It seems to run between old-school rock and roll, punk and metal. This has a real Kinks angle to it. It's another standout tune.
Hard Headed
The same mix of sounds as on the previous tune are present here. This is another of the stronger pieces of the disc. It has such a classic hard rock sound to it. I really love the instrumental break on this. It's mean and hits all the perfect angles of texture.
Ego in the Night
Pop rock, punk edges and more merge on this. It has some hints of old school rock and roll. It's more on the pop side than the last few tunes were. It works pretty well, but seems like it's playing things a bit too safely.
Lonely Is the Hardest
A mellower song, this has a lot of old-time rock and roll in the mix. It is evocative and rather dramatic. It's not one of my favorites here, though. That said, the guitar solo and accompanying instrumental section really elevate the tune.
Lay Me Down
Now, this is another standout. It has a great punky edged hard rock texture to it. It also has plenty of drama and style. Yet there are also some old-school rock and roll elements at play.
Wish Upon Me
Another that lands more on the pop side of the equation, this works pretty well.
Bonus Track:
Warm Leatherette

There is a new-wave vibe to this. I love the electronics on it. It has some rather risqué lyrics. It earns a parental advisory. This is such a big change. It's also very cool. I'd love to hear her do more like this.

Disc 2 - Main Attraction
Heart of Stone

While this is more along the lines of a pop tune, it works really well. It has an almost island vibe to it. The vocals really sell it more than anything else about it does.

Cheap Shot
This rocker feels more like something from the first album. It has a real pop edge to it, but a lot of meat on the bones, too. I think that the production works better on this than the production on just about anything from that first disc did.
She Knows
Now, this feels like something that would have fit well on the first album. It has that punky rock and roll vibe. It also has some tasty guitar soloing on the breaks.
Main Attraction
The title track is less rocking and more pop song. It has some great hooks and intriguing musical textures, though. It's a solid piece of music that stands tall. There is definitely a bit of Jimmy Buffett thing at play here.
Two Miles Out of Georgia
This has a country pop vibe to it. There is a healthy helping of harmonica on the tune. It's an effective piece, but not quite my kind of thing.
Candy Man
I said in my review of "Warm Leatherette," that I'd like to hear more of that kind of music from Quatro. Well, this cover of the old standard gets a lot of new wave in the mix. It reminds me of something Gary Numan might have done back in the 80s. It's not as edgy as that bonus track from the first disc, but it's also very cool. This is one of my favorites on this second disc.
Remote Control
The percussion on this has a really date 80s sound to it, but the music is another that has a lot of new wave in it. It reminds of Human League to a large degree. I like this one quite a bit, but not as much as the song that preceded it. It has some hints of Kraftwerk, too.
Fantasy in Stereo
This is more along the rocking lines, but it has some of that new wave edge, particularly on the instrumental break. This is a catchy and fun tune. I like it a lot.
Another cut with a more modern texture but still plenty of nods to older styles, this is so classy and cool. It's another standout.
Oh Baby
This is a pretty standard and straightforward pop rocking tune. It is effective, but not really any kind of standout.
Bonus Track:
Heart of Stone (7" Version)

This single version of the track isn't a big change from the earlier take.

Disc 3 - Unreleased Emotion
Pardon Me

There is a real island, Jimmy Buffett thing at play on this tune. It's energetic and fun. This has some hints of 50s rock on the chorus, too. I wouldn't consider this a favorite, but it is very entertaining.

There She Goes
A classic rock and roll vibe is on display here. I'm not a big fan of the doo wop styled backing vocals, but the cut works well despite those, and they are only occasional viewers anyway.
Can I Be Your Girl
This pop rocker is another entertaining and catchy piece. It has some more "doo wop" like vocals, but they aren't as distracting as those on the previous tune were. This definitely has a lot of retro sound in the mix, though.
I'm a Rocker
As you might guess, this is more of a rocker. It doesn't break any molds, but it works pretty well with solid hooks. The guitar fills work pretty well.
Strange Encounters

This tune has some hints of punky angle, feeling quite a bit like Blondie's more rocking side. This is one of the highlights of the whole set for me. It rocks like crazy and is just so cool.

Comes the Night
Here we get a more mainstream pop rocking tune. The vocals on it are strong. The are some retro rock and even country leaning elements in some of the guitar fills. This isn't a real standout, but it definitely has its charms.
Starry Night
Speaking of country music, this slower moving, balladic number is a full-on country exploration. It works pretty well, but isn't really my kind of thing. It does turn a little more toward rock and roll later on in the run.
Good Girl (Looking for a Bad Time)
Starting acapella, this has a real old-time rock and roll vibe with some hints of rockabilly. It's bouncy and fun, but not really a standout.
Everything I Ever Wanted
Pop rock, old school rock and roll and more merge on this effective romp. It's nothing fancy, just an entertaining song.
Secret Hideaway

Jimmy Buffett is again on the menu here. There are some country angles to the vocals. The tune is strong, but not really my flavor.

Just Like Momma
Old-school rock and roll and more modern pop rock merge on this energetic tune. It's another fun one.
Suzi Q
This really seems like such an obvious song for Quatro to do. She puts in a classy, if a bit minimalist, take on the old chestnut. Unfortunately, it's very short, fading down after the first verse and chorus.
Bonus Tracks:
I Go Wild

A keyboard based pop rocker, this is entertaining, but nothing all that special to me.

Tonight I Could Fall in Love
There is a cool moody drama as this piece gets underway. It has a bit of a new wave vibe to it. This has some meat on its bones in a lot of ways, but it goes on a bit too long, I think.
Tonight I Could Fall in Love (Extended Mix)
And, as much as I said the previous version went on too long, now we get an "extended mix"). They do play up the cool new wave instrumental elements, which does help, but this takes an already too long tune and adds almost two-and-a-half minutes to it.
Wild Thing (With Reg Presley)
With a new wave electronic groove, this cut includes the singer of the original "Wild Thing,' The Troggs' Reg Presley. It's quite a cool tune with both Quatro and Presley's vocals. I really dig the almost proggy elements that show up on the instrumental sections.
I Don't Want You (With Reg Presley)
I dig the groove on this. It has more of that electronic music element with plenty of piano in the mix. This also has some proggy moments. It's another killer tune.
Wild Thing (With Reg Presley) (Extended Mix)
This gets extended with a longer introduction. That intro gets rather proggy, which I feel is augments the piece. The more dance oriented mix on the number, though, doesn't work as well. I definitely prefer the previous version of the song to this dance remix.  


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