September 19, 2020

1986-01-05 – The Pittsburgh Press

1986 01 05 The_Pittsburgh_Press_Sun__Jan_5__1986_

Sunday. January 5. 1986

The Pittsburgh Press

F5

By Pete Bishop

The Pittsburgh Prue

Stevie Nicks is lucky to have one
of rock’s most instantly identifiable
voices, and anyone familiar with it
knows it has both alley cat and little
girl qualities or, to borrow one of her
song titles, leather and lace.

At least it did. On “Rock a Little"
(Modern Records 90479-1-E) in gen-
eral she sounds more feline than
ever, on album-opener “I Can’t
Wait" in particular she has to almost
yell to be heard over the instrumen-
tal thunder, which only accentuates
the unpleasantness of that quality.

All told, she usually doesn’t sound
very good — and yet ‘Rock a Little"
is not a bad album. A number of its
11 songs are quite appealing.

First, however, the pars for Miss
Nicks course. Lyrics, whether writ-
ten by her or someone else, are on
the cryptic side and aren’t very
happy, and her musical backers
include lots of folks whose names
you’ve seen on lots of albums and
who perform predictably well.

Now down to those attractive
songs, and you can start with “I Can't
Wait," a fine blend of synthesized
techno sounds over a hard-driving
foundation. Move along to the simi-
lar but less gut-busting “Sister Hon-
ey." ballad and good love song “I
Sing for the Things” and strong,
simple Tom Petty-style rocker “lm-
perial Hotel.”

Then (ii? the disc to Side 2 where
you'll find ‘If I Were You," a bouncy
dance-rocker with a flowing melody
(another Stevie Nicks trademark)
and “No Spoken Word." on the hard-

er side of mid-tempo and which
features her best and most dynamic
Singing.

Duds are two: “Talk to Me," on the
slow side of mid-tempo and like a
minor league Jim Steinman song,
and slow. sad. oddball “Rock a Little
(Go Ahead Lily)." Miss Nicks voice
as airy as her stabs at small talk
onstage at the Civic Arena in June
1983.

If only she herself sounded consis-
tently better, “Rock a Little” would
be an unqualified winner. As it is, it’s
good music and good listening.

DUE]

PETE TOWNSHEND also has
first-rate helpers on “White City (A
Novel)” (Atco 90473-1), and there’s
plenty of wet and conviction in his
voice, w ich rarely has sounded
better.

The problem is that he’s off on
another rivate lyric tri , which is
typical ownshend. If “ hite Cit ”
is a theme or story-telling album, e
plot isn’t clear even though the
words are on the sleeve. and the
jacket narrative. presumably by
filmmaker Richard Lowenstein,
doesn’t clarify matters at all. How
much of any of it is fact, fiction or
just imagination is pure conjecture.

So that leaves individual songs
taken out of whatever context
they’re supposedly in, and there are
some good ones. “Face the Face"
mixes strong rock ’n’ roll with some
funk and jazzy horns. “Secondhand
Love," the LP’s best cut, has a
slower tempo, but Townshend’s sing-
ing is very tough and very good.

“Give Blood" has excellent advice
for a variety of situations: “Give

~ Thinkers and

RECORDS
Stevie Nicks offers more leather than lace on ‘Rock a Little’

blood. but you may find that blood is
not enough . . . There are some who'll
say it's not enough . .. Don't expect
to ever see reward . . . You can give
it all. but still you’re asked for more
Give love and keep blood be-
tween brothers.”
“White City Fighting” opens gent-
lly and moves into solid rock and
ownshend’s very impassioned Sing-
ing. and “Come to Mama" weds a
good instrumental intro with hot
rock. The words don’t mean beans,
but the music’s fine.
That about sums u “White City."
guzzle-solvers can
have great cere ral fun tryingto
figure out what Townshend’s talking
about while the rest of us can enjoy
most the music. A little more readily
accessible material would have pre-
saged greater commercial success.
however.

DUE]

“ROCKY IV" — Using smidgens
of songs in m9vies and then releasing
sound track albums with the com-
plete numbers is a rotten trend that
should end the sooner the better. But
you can bet your turntable it won’t
simply because it’s yet another way
to separate buyers, especially young
ones, from their money.

Here’s the first such disc of '86.
“Rocky IV" (Scotti Brothers 82
40203), and like most of its predeces-
sors it isn’t all that hotsy-totsy.

It does have “No Eas Way Out."
solid hard rock by one obert Tep-

r, it’s as good or better than John

arr’s “St. Elmo’s Fire,” and Tep-

r’s someone it would be nice to

ear more of.

It also has “Training Montage,” a

very martial all-instrumental by
Vince DiCola, and Touch's “The
Sweetest Victory,” melodic rock a la
Survivor. And it has the excellent
“Eye of the Tiger" by Survi ... but
wasn't that song from “Rocky III”?
It sure was. Sneaky, sneaky. but I
gotcha.

0n the minus side, Survivor’s
“Burning Heart" is a lesser rerup of,
“Eye of the Tiger,” “Heart’s on Fire
has John Cafferty Bléiymg techno-
rocker and losing, “ uble o; Noth-
ing’s" pairing of Kenny Loggins and
Gladys Knight doesn’t produce the
sparks it should, “Living in Ameri-
ca” is mundane funky-junky with
James Brown sounding old and tired
and pushing himself and Go West 5
“One Way Street" is even duller
funky-junky.

The best advice is to hope “No
Easy Way Out," “Training Montage"
and/or “The Sweetest Victory” 15
released as a single (but bet on
“Burning Heart" because people
know Survivor’s name) and skip the
album.

DUE]

THE FASTEST-BREAKING al-
bums in the country are the “A
Chorus Line” sound track, Jon An-
derson's “3 Ships,” the “Jewel of the
Nile” sound track, The Cult's “Love"
and The Who’s “Who’s Missing.”

The fastest-breaking singles are"
Starship’s “Sara,” Atlantic Starr’s
“Secret Lover,” Sly Fox’s “Let’s Go
All the Way.” Joni Mitchell’s “Good
Friends,” Roger Daltrey’s “Let Me
Down Easy" and The Alarm’s
“Strength.”

Stevie Nicks has a very identifiable voice