LA Times 6/21/81
Stereo Review Nov. 1981
LE MUSEUM DE BENATAR Articles:
High Times 1/81
Prairie Sun 8/22/81
Recording a follow-up to her successful first album was a harrowing, nerve-wracking experience for Pat Benatar. And when that album, "Crimes of Passion," turned into a far bigger hit--staying in the Top 10 for more than six months, until even Benatar says she was "sick of it"--it figures that the singer would have an especially rough time making her third album.
Wrong. "There was pressure, but I wasn't thinking about it because we were having such a good time," said Benatar by phone from her studio. "Sure, every time I have to do another album it's like, "Gimme a break! I'm supposed to do this again, and do it better?
"But last time we went into the studio straight from the road with real stinking attitudes because we were all so fried out. This time everything was more relaxed.
"When it's all mixed, I'll probably start lying awake at night worrying, 'What if no one buys it?' or 'The Pretenders album is so great, oh no.'"
Besides the time off to write songs, Benatar was helped out this time by some royalty checks that allowed her and her guitarist Neil Geraldo to buy a house in the San Fernando Valley and rescue their dogs and cats from the kennel. "No matter how great your career is going, sometimes you need the material things to make you feel better," she laughed. "All those nights crying and freaking out on the road were finally worth it."
But Benatar also described the upcoming album--titled "Precious Time"--as more "down and reflective" than her first two discs; that's because most of the songs were written by band members after a long, wearying road trip. And Chrysalis records, she added with a chuckle, "is flipping out. They don't know if we've got a big hit on the record. A lot of the songs are very long--one of them's over six minutes--and they've got some additional instruments and strange rhythms."
Benatar was temporarily forbidden to talk about those additional instruments, because the album's special guests are supposed to be a surprise. And there are a few more off-limit subjects too: "I really want to tell you," she said as Geraldo entered the studio, "but I can't. He'll kill me."
Benatar's brand of layered, fiery rock is here in large proportions. She shows quite a range here as she tackles reggae with "It's A Tuff Life" as well as manic chaos of Lennon and McCartney's "Helter Skelter." A hard rocking remake of "Just Like Me," originally done by Paul Revere & the Raiders, suits her style well. The epic track though is the four and a half minute "Evil Genius" which features the four piece saxophone section of Tom Scott, Larry Williams, Joel Peskin and Gary Herbig. Benatar fans are anxiously waiting for this so this one should jump out of the box. Best cuts: "Evil Genius," "It's A Tuff Life," "Precious Time," "Promises In The Dark," "Just Like Me."
It's hard not to gush over Pat Benatar, although I suspect that nothing could be less effective than flattery with this no-nonsense woman. Her new Chrysalis album, "Precious Time," shows that she has reached aritistic maturity. Though it's impossible to forget that she's still the object of a million adolescent fantasies, her heavily merchandised sexuality is almost beside the point here. When Benatar sings about love, desire, or anger, she does it with an authority that derives from both insight and experience, not from some imagined erotic power. On song after song, "Precious Time" does what rock does best-- cut through the pale skin of convention to expose the raw nerve endings of emotion.
The album distinctly benefits from the contributions of Benatar's guitarist, songwriter, and producer Neil Geraldo. He has nearly infallible instincts for writing the kind of sharp, smart, gutsy material that works best for Benatar--Promises In the Dark, Take It Any Way You Want It, and It's A Tuff Life here are all great vehicles for her--and he knows just where to go for additional material. This time he's included Helter Skelter, and Benatar's crackling performance may wrestle the tune away from it's current leaseholder, Charles Manson. Throughout the album, Geraldo's arrangements give Benatar plenty of freedom while providing a disciplined, highly charged underpinning.
Although it breaks no new musical ground, "Precious Time" is a breakthrough album for Pat Benatar, revealing her as a mainstream rocker with focused energy and vision--plus absolute authenticity. This is an album by a singer who knows how to rock. Period.