Pat Benatar is one of the greatest vocalists of all-time, the woman behind numerous memorable hits such as "Heartbreaker," "You Better Run" and the ever-popular "Hit Me With Your Best Shot." However, she has had many other great songs throughout her career, from albums such as In the Heat of the Night, Crimes of Passion, and Tropico.
Since Benatar and husband/guitarist Neil Giraldo will be coming to the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion Friday with Journey and Loverboy, I thought it would be a great idea to show some of the lesser-known tracks of her career.
10. "In the Heat of the Night"
A well-known fact about Benatar is that she originally trained to be an opera singer and was even slated to audition for Juilliard. However, she decided not to audition because she wanted to get married to her first husband, Dennis Benatar, who was headed off to Vietnam, shortly after she graduated high school.
Years went by and she decided to return to singing after seeing Liza Minnelli in concert. Later, while recording her first album, 1979's In the Heat of the Night, Benatar would recall that those first recordings sounded like "Julie Andrews trying to sing rock and roll." However, the real problem was that she needed a great guitar player to back her up - enter Neil Giraldo.
On this hauntingly good song, you can hear Benatar in both higher and a somewhat lower register.
9. "You Better Run"
This track put Benatar in the music history books: It was the second song to be played on MTV when the channel launched in 1981. The song not only was pivotal in bringing forth a network that forever changed the face of the music industry, but it changed Benatar's life as well. In Rob Tannenbaum and Craig Marks' book I Want My MTV: The Uncensored Story of the Music Video Revolution, Benatar recalled that "within a week, we couldn't go anywhere without being recognized. It changed everything in one week."
8. "Walking In the Underground"
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Shortly after Benatar gave birth to her daughter, her label Chrysalis started demanding that they record yet another album by enforcing their "new record every nine months" portion of her contract. This essentially gave her no maternity leave; Benatar and Giraldo hadn't even written any new songs yet. That album, Seven the Hard Way, ended up selling considerably less than Benatar's previous albums, achieving only gold status.
For all its drama, Seven the Hard Way does have a few decent tracks, like "Walking In the Underground." It reminds me of some sort of score that you may hear in an old film noir movie from the 1940s.
7. "I Want Out"
One of the big things that Benatar had to constantly go up against was her boys club of a record label. They consistently wanted her to be the little vixen even when she didn't want to be. The best thing about this Get Nervous-era track is Pat's vocals. She virtually screams "I want out!" In the video above, it is part of a medley that starts five minutes in, but still appropriate.
6."Let's Stay Together"
When Benatar released Wide Awake In Dreamland in 1988, it sold terribly due to many transitions at her record company. Also, the label's orders to release a new album every nine months came back to haunt them -- by then Benatar had saturated the market.
Nevertheless, there were a few good tracks on this album, one being "Let's Stay Together." The best thing is the amazing sound of drummer Myron Grombacher and percussionist Bo Castro's rhythm section..
With the recording of her 1984 release, Tropico, Benatar decided to tone down her signature kick-'em-in-the-balls hard-rock sound. Also, there were many personal changes within her and Giraldo's own life: While recording of the album, Benatar found out she was pregnant with their first child. The change in her life is nicely reflected in her sound because Tropico takes on a much mellower sound.
Though pregnancy made it rather easy for Benatar to record, there was still one bad apple to deal with: Her record company, Chrysalis. When the label got word of her pregnancy, they were not happy and wanted to keep it a secret. According to her 2010 autobiography, Between a Heart and a Rock Place, "they didn't want any photos taken of me once I started to show, and they didn't want me talking about babies in interviews."
4. "Rated X"
This In the Heat of the Night-era track contains probably the best Benatar lyrics because it describes the dirtiness of Times Square circa the 1970s, which was riddled with porn theaters, prostitution and sex shops. Some of the best lines include "she's a personality/ enjoying popularity for making movies rated X/ Posing for a magazine/ Picture in a limousine, someone simulating sex/ Never thought that she could be lonely with her vanity/ Wasted days and lonely nights/ Working for the sugar man, make each other happy man/ 'Cause satisfaction's guaranteed all night."
3. "Big Life"
Though Seven The Hard Way was a return to the "knock-'em-dead" style rock and roll that we have come to know and love with Pat Benatar, most of the album sounds pretty hard to listen to.
2. Never Wanna Leave You
One of the best things about this Crimes of Passion track is Roger Capps' bass line. For the most part, on her records from the '80s, Benatar kept a steady group of musicians on both her records and tours.
1. "I'm Gonna Follow You" Pat Benatar has inspired numerous women with her music. She has been a big inspiration to the likes of Lisa Marie Pressley and country singer Martina McBride.
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The suspensefulness of this video is what makes her a great artist, and seems to permeate the rest of her In the Heat of the Night album.
Pat Benatar & Neil Giraldo and Loverboy open for Journey, 7 p.m. Friday, August 24, at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, 2005 Lake Robbins Dr., The Woodlands.