You really do know how to strut that stuff
You really do know how to act tough
Your body’s just like a centerfold
A fantasy, anyone would want to hold
Another day, another song about me, please 80’s Pat Benatar, leave me alone – I’m taken. Don’t worry there are plenty more 45 year-old bald, married Welshmen in the sea. Come on calm down, what do you say to that?
With looks that kill and a mind that’s twisted
I don’t know why I can’t resist it
I tell myself, look the other way
When you want me to, I, I always stay
Pat! Now come on, don’t make me cross here; I’ve told you I’m not interested and I am asking you to respect that. Who are you calling twisted anyway? You’re the one who’s turned up in my front garden dressed entirely in spandex, wearing a headband and swathed in dry ice and those blue lights that are found only in early 80’s music videos. I’m going to have to ask you to leave my property now, you’ll wake the chickens.
You play with desire like it was a toy
How much affection can you destroy?
You wrap my heart around your little finger
Sex, sex, sex as a weapon
We here at the Health and Safety department of 1537 would like to reassure all readers that the safety catch on my weapon will remain fully engaged at all times during this review of Pat Benatar Best Shots, her greatest hits comp from 1987. Maybe only just though.
Blame Wales. I picked Best Shots up a couple of years ago after my kids and I had an absolute ball singing along to ‘Hit Me With Your Best Shot’ about ten times in a row until we were word perfect on a long nighttime car journey down to West Wales, which in turn was down to it scoring my favourite scene in the film Rock of Ages with Catherine Zeta-Jones’ brilliant dance sequence – Wales again. It is just a perfect car rocker too, great chorus, top-notch gritty silk vocals and as long as you don’t think too long and hard about the lyrics, about as great as AM rock gets; pretty damn great as it happens.
We vinyl buffoons get 12 Best Shots here* and although my attention wanders a little during ‘Treat Me Right’ and ‘You Better Run’ it is all great stuff. Everything polished and gleaming, flawless production (check the precision of ‘Invincible’), every note shiny, burnished and new, no chorus knowingly undersung. What stops it all from being too sterile and soulless is Pat’s** vocals, they bring the human touch perfectly – a little gruffness, a little grit in the oyster, as well as the occasional pyrotechnics you expect from someone who almost trained as a classical singer. Interestingly Best Shots avoids sounding too dated as a lot of the more irritating 80’s tropes are missing, you still need to crank the bass setting up though to balance the sound.
Above all this is a pop album dressed in a rock wolf’s clothes and it really is none the worse for that, good catchy tunes prevail. Just crank up ‘Fire & Ice’ to hear yet another tale of poor Pat trying to resist the blandishments of yet another ladies’ man, not me this time I promise, selling every syllable as though her life depends upon it; in certain circumstances I’d take to the hills faced with this, but here it just works. Especially when you hit me with a pure joy like ‘Heartbreaker’ too, which I’ve always thought of as the first cousin of Heart’s ‘Barracuda’, pop rock like this just gives you sunshine no matter the season.
One of Best Shots highlights for me was ‘We Live For Love’ which, rather thrillingly, sounds like a rockier brunette Blondie, Benatar has that Debbie Harry breathy upper register trick down, umm, pat. It’s such a great track, the one real bit of quirkiness on the album before we slam back into the pleasurably steamrollering ‘Sex As A Weapon’, it is as great as it is daft, which will do me just fine^.
I think of myself as a fairly unshakable, streetwise sort of soul but I have to say that tonight I was utterly sideswiped by something that I really wasn’t expecting. During my 7 weeks of extensive research that I put into every review I write*^ I hadn’t yet checked out the video to ‘Love is a Battlefield’ until now. Oh. My. Please share my experience:
First off, I have to say I do like videos that the director considered were important enough to interpolate their sound effects and lines of dialogue over the music; possibly on the grounds that theirs was the true art and the music a bit of an inconvenience.
Anyhoo, small town Pat has a row with her parents, she takes out on the Greyhound for some urban cesspool of sin where folk aren’t very friendly. She eventually walks into a nightclub where she, in common with the other female lady girls there, dresses like a sexed-up Victorian chimney sweep whose skirt has been savaged by an overly-amorous Doberman Pinscher; I have shrewd suspicions that the ladies at the club may be selling a good time on the side. Her father, miles away looks pensive. Meanwhile she dances in an hilariously unenthusiastic manner with a client – if that is any indication of her job skills for the more private elements of her employment then she can expect to be, umm, laid off soon. Pat writes to her younger brother, possibly expressing her disappointment at her recent annual appraisal at work. Then, the baddie (we can tell he is one as he has a gold tooth and looks a bit ethnic) foists some unwanted attention on a co-worker.
But don’t worry lady of dubious virtue, Pat is here! She seems to have formed an impromptu association of Strippers, Ho’s and Amalgamated Trades and she and the rest of the membership surround him and … how do they drive off this putative sex attacker? Yes, of course! They vigorously shake their chesticles at him! Trust me, I shit you not, it’s located at about 3:22. The guy’s expression at 4:35 pretty much mirrored my own after watching the whole video. Phew! They sure don’t make ’em like this any more.
That’s all I got Best Shots; I gave it mine and have now reholstered my weapon.
PS: I almost forgot to mention whilst I really enjoy this album, it is a wretched example of mid to late 80’s can’t-be-arsed-with-LPs-ism from the record company. No sleeve notes, vinyl so thin it’s almost see through, no band/player credits, rotten typical 80’s design layout on the back cover and a bit of a quiet sound. Ha, Chrysalis execs from 1987 – we vinyl buyers will one day (almost, sort of) rule the world! Well, rule the 7% who actually pay anything for music these days.
PPS: I was inspired to visit Best Shots by 2loud2oldmusic’s recent Pat Post. Thank you.
*CD had 15 but the vinyl is the better, less diluted deal, the European version is far better sequenced than the US version too.
**I figure we’re on first name terms now.
^I have a fine expressive interpretative dance routine worked out for the song too. Unfortunately, as I very unselfishly don’t want to break the internet I shan’t be putting it on YouTube any time soon. #SelflessDancer.
*^I don’t just bang this scheisse out in 30 minutes after staggering home from the pub before I fall unconscious, no I have a team of graduate researchers and Lego technicians operating around the clock burnishing this nonsense until it gleams as faultless and snugly-spandexed as ‘Shadows of the Night’. True story.