electric city 8/5-11/99--Exclusive interview
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ICE, April '99--Boxset preview
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"The View" comments, 11/10/99
Pat Benatar's daughter starting band
Pat Benatar's Daughter Goes Pop
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The Weekly (Toledo) 7/1/99--concert preview
Star Ledger 8/10/99--concert review
Press of AC 8/13/99--concert preview
CNN Transcript 8/25/99
Before there was Courtney Love or Sarah McLachlan or any number of self-assured female rockers, there was Pat Benatar. In a uniform of ripped shirts and black spandex, with spiky hair and an icy stare, Benatar rode girl power to the top of the charts before the Spice Girls had shagged their first soccer hooligans.
On Saturday, Aug. 7, Benatar and band will be at Wilkes-Barre FM Kirby Center to celebrate the 20 year anniversary of their debut album with a show full of the hits that made the Reagan-era such a rockin' place to be.
In an interview with Electric City, Benatar said this tour, unlike some in the past, has been slanted much more towards the early hits.
"We usually don't include as much vintage music but since it's our anniversary we have a lot of the old songs in there the fans really want to hear," Benatar said, adding that they haven't played some of the songs in the set list for thier curent tour since 1982.
Born in Brooklyn in 1953, Patricia Andrzejewski grew up on Long Island, the daughter of a part-time singer and a sheet-metal worker. At a young age, Patricia sang in the school and church choirs, took voice lessons and received training as an opera singer. Soon after graduation, Particia married her high school sweetheart Dennis Benatar. The young couple moved to Virginia where he, an Army draftee, was stationed. There, Pat worked for a short time as a bank teller until the need to perform got so strong she quit and took a job singing in a night club.
Her career would definitely see better gigs. At a club called the Roaring Twenties, Benatar could occasionally get up and perform but she also had to wait tables in a 1920s "flapper" outfit. When the time came for her to sing, she had to climb on stage in her waitress outfit covered in grease and spilled food.
Around 1975, Benatar and her husband moved back to New York where a short time later they would get a divorce. Single and driven, she was now determined to have a go at it as a singer. Her big break came in 1978 on open mic night at Catch A Rising Star.
Like many others, Pat waited her turn, got on stage and sang a song--she chose Judy Garland's "Rock-A-Bye Your Baby With A Dixie Melody." The difference was, when she finished, the audience wouldn't stop clapping.
The club's owner, Rick Newman, ran up to the stage, congratulated her and told her to come back whenever she wanted. Apparently this was more than standard false, show-biz praise, because soon thereafter, Newman became Benatar's manager.
Benatar had, at this point, officially climbed on board the pop star roller coaster whether she even knew it or not. Everything just started to fly by, she said, too fast even to register. Not even a year later, Benatar was signed with Chrysalis Records and her debut album In The Heat Of The Night was released. It went platinum and resulted in three hit singles including one of her signature tunes, "Heartbreaker."
"It was great when I was 26 years old," she said of her dark spandex, black eyeliner and short, spiked hair. "It was a perfect thing but it got very old very quickly. And because it was so marketable and the record company felt it ws such a key part of what made us successful, I sometimes had a hard time getting away from it."
Now, she says, at 46, the mother of two, she still has some of the same spunk on stage, but "it's a much more tempered image let's say."
Even when her clothes and hair cut went out of fashion, Benatar remained a powerful influence on a whole generation of young female rock musicians. Though her look might be buried in the 80s, her attitude is still very much alive in the 90s.
"I think that the first wave of all the women that were part of what I was a part of had a large influence on what's happening today," she said. "A few years ago I had an opportunity to do the Lilith Fair and I got to spend time with 12 of the newer females coming up. You know history being history, everything that comes before has some impact on what follows but you never really know how much. But hanging around with them back stage I started to realize what kind of impact I had had; so it was fun."
By 1982, Benatar had released four albums, all platinum or multi-platinum. She had put a stranglehold on the Grammy for Female Rock Vocalist, winning four years in a row from 1980-1983. And her singles, such as "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" and "Love Is A Battlefield," were routinely making it into the top 10.
Her career started to cool off around the mid-80s, probably because she had been such an icon of pop culture at the early part of the decade. As with anything that popular and that wed to a certain period of time, there was bound to be a backlash once tastes and trends shifted, as they always do.
Still, Benatar persevered and now she and her band--which includes her hsuband and creative partner, Neil Giraldo, on guitar--are celebrating 20 years in the business. Over those 20 years, whether fans of her early music know it or not, Benatar has been a versatile performer utilizing her singing voice with an over three octave range on more than just pop rock albums.
Some of her later albums such as the blues-tinged True Love in 1991 and the modern-sounding Gravity's Rainbow in 1993 were proof to any doubters that Benatar was still capable of growing as an artist. More importantly, she said, it was proof, that unlike the early part of her career, she was now in control to follow her interests and avoid being type-cast.
Contractual obligations, pressures from her label and simply the personal fear that everything could one day disappear if she didn't watch out, sometimes made those early days, which should have been so great, often frustrating, she said.
"I just wish I had been controlling the boat better," she said. "It's like being a teenager. It was great but I would never want to go back...ever. I have a nice balance of life now between family and profession."
Despite the fact that her oldest daughter finds her rock 'n' roll parents "purely an embarassment," Benatar said having kids has been helpful to staying young and in touch. In fact, she said, though they haven't taken the most prescribed route, she and her husband are now better musicians than ever.
"I think just the sheer fact of time passing you just become more adept at your craft. Especially for Neil and I, because we're always looking for something new. And now that I have young daughters, I've never been more plugged-in, in my life. Just from what we constantly hear around the house we're subliminally influenced by all the current players."
So for Benatar, it's 20 years and counting. And who knows, with her talent, maybe her best days are still ahead.
1979 to 1999
From the woman who broke the rules in the 80's and keeps breaking new ground today: a new 3-disc career retrospective, jam packed with best shots, rare cuts, demo versions, movie tracks nad unreleased gems - 53 songs in all.
Includes her personal song-by-song
annotations, US discography,
rare photographs, and extensive liner
notes in a deluxe triple-gatefold
package with slipcase.
1999 Chrysalis Records
EMI/Capitol Records Catalog division will release a three-CD Pat Benatar collection on May 18, tentatively titled Synchronistic Wanderings (Recorded Anthology 1979-1999). The new set covers the period from Benatar's first hit, 1979's "Heartbreaker," up through her 1997 Innamorata album, and includes the Top 10 singles "Hit Me with your Best Shot," "Love Is a Battlefield," and "Invincible." Benatar and husband/producer/guitarist Neil Geraldo were closely involved in compiling the project.
"We wanted to include all of her charting Billboard singles," reissue coproducer David Tedds tells ICE, "all of the key album tracks, and a liberal sprinkling of what people's perceptions of her are."
Following is a listing of the new set's collector's items, with explanations:
"I Need a Lover, " 1979 recorded at New York's Bottom Line, and part of a radio broadcast. "This was recorded about two weeks after the live band got together," Tedds says, "which is why Neil and Pat want to use this, because it's very early on in their formation. Even though there are versions that technically sound better, where the band sounds tighter and slicker, this is real raw - which is what they wanted."
"Love is a Battlefield," previously unreleased demo version. "It's very different," Tedds says. "In the finished version, Pat does multiple vocals, whereas in this, there's only her lead vocal line."
"Here's My Heart," from Giorgio Moroder's 1984 soundtrack to Metropolis.
"New Dream Islands," an unreleased outtake from Seven the Hard Way. "this was apparently the first song they had written and demo'ed for Seven the Hard Way in 1985," Tedds says. "It was a direction they considered taking the album in, but that direction got changed. It's a very beautiful, ethereal song? exactly what you'd expect a song called 'New Dream Islands' to sound like."
"Run Between the Raindrops," recorded live in Philadelphia in 1988 and again, unreleased other than being part of a radio broadcast. "Neil was partial to this," Tedds says; "He really likes Pat's vocal. The song itself was written on the day their first child was born, and deals with that subject."
"Sometimes the Good Guys Finish First," from the 1987 soundtrack to The Secret of My Success.
"True Hearts," an unreleased outtake from the Wide Awake in Dreamland sessions. "A great, uptempo song," Tedds says, "one of those things you hear and say, 'Why wasn't it on the album?' It just didn't fit in with what they were doing with Dreamland."
"Ooh Ooh Song," sung in Spanish, the B-side to Benatar's 1985 Top 40 hit of the same name.
"Crying," the Roy Orbison song, from 1978, previously unreleased. "A finished, fully-produced demo for the first album," Tedds says. "You can really tell the difference between this and [material found on] the first album? you can tell why this was not included. Both songwriting-wise and production-wise, it just would not have fit with [uptempo rockers like] 'Heartbreaker'."
"Shooting Star," the Harry Chapin song, from Relativity's 1990 Harry Chapin Tribute album.
"Please Come Home for Christmas," a CD-only track on Benatar's 191 True Love album.
"Tell Me Why," the traditional song from Disney's 1991 For Our Children benefit album.
"Temptation," the 1993 B-side to her Somebody's Baby single.
"Rise (Part 1)," an unreleased outtake from Gravity's Rainbow, Benatar's 1993 album. Gravity's Rainbow has an acoustic song called 'Rise (Part 2)," Tedds says. "This is basically the same song but done very electric, very Hendrix-like."
"Every Time I Fall Back," a remix of the song found on Gravity's Rainbow.
"The Effect You Have on Me," from an Edith Piaf tribute album.
"Rescue Me," the Fontella Bass classic, from the Speed soundtrack.
We asked Tedds about Benatar's early recordings before she hit it big with "Heartbreaker." "As most of her fans know, her background was in cabaret," he says. "She did a vinyl single in 1974 called 'Day Gig' on Trace Records, and she also did a vinyl 12-inch single in '74 as part of a band called Coxon's Army, featuring songs like 'Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man." Very cabaret-type stuff" So why aren't any of these on the new anthology? "At the artist's request," Tedds says. "Pat and Neil just said, 'No? they're just so different."
Synchronistic Wanderings comes housed in a triple gatefold digipak, much like Sony Legacy's recent Ta Mahal three-CD collection. Liner notes were penned by Billboard Editor-in-Chief Timothy White.
Friday, August 06, 1999
By GARY GRAFF
With a newly released boxed set in stores now, Pat Benatar feels that she can hit her fans with a few more of her best shots these days
The album in question is "Synchronistic Wanderings: Recorded Anthology 1979-1999," a three-disc collection of hits and rarities that surveys Benatar's two decades as a stereotype-bashing Woman In Rock pioneer. And Benatar says that the set has inspired her to tinker with her current concert repertoire.
"Usually I don't put this much vintage stuff in [the shows]," says Benatar, 46, who was born Patricia Andrzejewski in Brooklyn, N.Y. "Because it's the anniversary, I've been putting in songs we haven't played for 17, 19 years -- some songs we've never played live. It's been fun for us."
Among those additions, Benatar says, are John Mellencamp's "I Need a Lover" and her "Anxiety (Get Nervous)" and "Treat Me Right" which she hasn't performed since the early '80s. She's also added her version of Kate Bush's "Wuthering Heights," which Benatar says she's never performed live because of the vocal gymnastics it requires.
"I used my operatic falsetto on the record, and it's just impossible ... Once I sing songs like 'Hell is For Children,' [my voice] is trashed," Benatar explains. "So I just had to find another way to sing it, and we changed keys and stuff in order to make it work. And we got it; it sounds pretty good, and the crowds seem to really like it."
That combination of old favorites and the crowd response they prompt has turned Benatar's summer tour into a pleasant anniversary celebration, a deserved nod to a job well done -- and a kind of calm before the storm that will find the mother of two re-entering the commercial fray with a new album early next year.
In this age of Lilith Fair, Courtney Love and Alanis Morissette, it's sometimes hard to remember just how rare women rockers -- the ballsy, cocky, sweat-it-out-like-the-guys variety -- were at one point. With her opera-trained voice and sneering attitude, Benatar came from a short lineage, falling between Heart and the Go-Go's as a more mainstream-targeted contemporary of Blondie's Debbie Harry.
Her success was unassailable -- six consecutive platinum-plus albums and three Grammy awards, plus a string of hits, mostly composed with guitarist, producer and second husband, Neil Giraldo, that includes "Heartbreaker," "We Live For Love," "Hit Me With Your Best Shot," "Fire and Ice," "Love is a Battlefield," "Shadows of the Night" and "We Belong."
"Usually it feels like it went by really fast," Benatar says of her career. "But some days it feels like it's been a long time. Most days it seems like a really short time, though. I've really enjoyed it."
Even, she says, after the hits started coming with regularity. Benatar hasn't been as strong of a commercial force during the past 15 years, as she's accepted her veteran status with grace and just a few miscues, such as 1991's blues-oriented album "True Love."
But she's refused to fade away, releasing albums and touring -- including opening stints for Steve Miller, Fleetwood Mac and Styx, as well as a couple of acoustic gigs with Giraldo during the 1997 Lilith Fair.
"Synchronistic Wanderings," she says, gave her a chance to consolidate her work to this point before moving on.
"EMI's been putting out these compilations constantly for the last five or six years since we left [the company], without our participation," Benatar says. "And a lot of the times they didn't pick things that were appropriate or things that I thought people would want to hear.
"So when it came time for the anniversary and they approached us to do a compilation of stuff for the commemorative thing, I said sure, 'cause we'd get to participate. And we picked a lot of stuff that we have in our archives that they didn't own."
One of those was a recording of Roy Orbison's "Crying," which Benatar says is the first thing she recorded after returning to New York following a brief stay in Virginia with her first husband.
"It was only on cassette," she says. "We found it in a box of old tapes. We had to work really hard to make it work, but we pulled it off. That was a really good find."
With her past properly anthologized, Benatar and Giraldo are moving on to the future -- which includes a new studio album for the reactivated Portrait label, which specializes in rock vets such as Ratt and Great White.
Benatar describes the album, her first since "Innamorata" in 1997, as "a contemporary record. It's not a blues record or anything like that; it's a pop record. The instrumentation is not heavy, heavy- handed, but there are a couple of tracks on there that are raunchy. We're using machines on some things, and some of it has acoustic instrumentation with fiddles and real drums.
"Everything changes over time. We're just as influenced by everything that's going on as everybody else, so it sounds contemporary. It doesn't sound like a remake of old things. If you want old, you can get the box set."
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