Pat Benatar

CMC International Records, 1998


REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


With Pat Benatar's career continually moving into the future (even if it's not skyrocketing for her like it did in the first half of the '80s), it seems funny that her next move would be to look into her past.

But reaching deep into her tape archives (kind of like a certain music reviewer we all know and love dipping into his Archives and coming up with some stupid quote), Benatar discovered one of the first live shows she and her backing band did. The end result, 8-15-80, is kind of like a museum showcase for an amateur photographer. There's some promise there, but it's a little too raw and unpolished.

Recorded during her tour to support my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Crimes Of Passion (except for "My Clone Sleeps Alone," which was recorded in 1979), Benatar and her band (which included her husband-to-be Neil Giraldo) tear through a collection of then-recent hits and some soon-to-be classics. And while some of the songs some of us have grown up with still have what it takes to make us smile ("Heartbreaker," "Hit Me With Your Best Shot"), the overall vibe of the show seems, well... contrived, as if they're trying too hard to please people.

I also would have preferred to hear more bass levels in the mix; often Roger Capps's bass and Myron Grombacher's drums seem hidden in the mix. Also, Giraldo's guitar work doesn't have the flash one would have expected - often, like on "I'm Gonna Follow You," you almost find yourself looking forward to the guitar solo's end. And what was with the extended ending to "Heartbreaker," where they noodle around with the ending for over a minute? What the hell is this, '80s rock? (Oh, wait a minute...)

It is interesting to hear Benatar performing songs that, at the time, were not well-known. "Treat Me Right" didn't become a hit for her until the next year, and I don't think "Hell Is For Children" (which had first been on Crimes Of Passion) was recognized as a true hit until her Live From Earth release a few years later. When you hear songs like these and realize they were still relative unknowns to the audience, you truly appreciate what you're listening to: an artist in the making.

If only the bulk of 8-15-80 showed that kind of promise. Tracks like "You Better Run" and "I'm Gonna Follow You" show just how dated this performance is - and it hasn't aged that well. Unless you're a drooling Benatar fan who has been following her career since day one, you might wonder what all the fuss is about.

Even as an historical document showing where Benatar has come from musically, 8-15-80 is one that has to be classified as a "for-the-fans" release. If you're looking to discover what made Benatar a big star in the '80s, you'd be better off checking out some of the greatest-hits packages. This one has moments that are worthwhile; otherwise, approach it with caution.

Rating: C

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 1998 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of CMC International Records, and is used for informational purposes only.