Too much tertiary education... Former performer/wrestler, teacher, scientist; Published author & Father... Want to be a writer if I grow up...
Published June 13th 2020
Turn around, bright eyes
Following on from my look at Cyndi Lauper's great first solo album, I decided to stick with the female artists and the classic albums they produced. I also decided to stick with the year 1983. Why? Well… sometimes these things happen. Coincidence.
Anyway, this time I'll be looking at: Faster Than the Speed of Night by Bonnie Tyler (1983).
I bought this part-way through 1984. I already had the big hit single on 45, but then I discovered the whole album was produced by Jim Steinman, who I was already in awe of in the studio, and so I bought the album… on cassette. I replaced it on CD some years later after wearing a section of the cassette out. I own 6 of Tyler's albums, including two that were released before this one. She also recorded one of my favourite Eurovision songs. I am a fan, but not a die-hard fan like with Queen, Mike Oldfield and Meat Loaf (I own everything they recorded in the studio).
Anyway, in the 1980s Tyler left RCA where she had been recording what amounted to country-rock albums (and the two I have are not bad albums) and was at a loss. She saw Meat Loaf perform a concert and decided she wanted his song-writer/producer and so this album with Jim Steinman was born. While Steinman only wrote 2 songs, he did produce it all, and his handprints are all over this. I mean that in a good way.
Needless to say, I love this album.
Bonnie in 2013
'Have You Ever Seen The Rain?' An odd opener – a cover of the old Creedence Clearwater Revival track, with those Steinman embellishes. It's not as good as the original – of course – but is still very good. Sort of Tyler combining her country-rock roots with the new world of OTT Steinman. At least, that's how I saw it.
'Faster Than the Speed of Night' The first of the two Steinman-penned tracks on the album. I really like this track. It has the piano flourishes of so many of Steinman's best compositions and Tyler's voice carries this six and a half minute epic through like a female Meat Loaf. I've said numerous times that no-one could carry a Steinman tune like Meat Loaf; well, I think if Tyler had recorded more of them, she would have been up there as well. Great, under-appreciated track.
'Getting So Excited' While not a bad track by any stretch, this song does have the feel of a standard 1980s female-led track. This could have been sung by Cher, The Pointer Sisters, Kim Carnes or any of a number of others and no-one would have blinked. Like I said, not a bad track, just not a standout. It is, to my mind, the least track here.
'Total Eclipse Of The Heart' Another song. Next… What? Okay, yes, one of the greatest songs ever recorded. The second Steinman-penned track, the album version clocks in at a glorious 7 minutes of OTT choruses and guitars and Tyler's vocals. You could not escape this song in the 1980s. Even today, if it comes on at the gym, I see everyone, from the 20-odd year olds to the sixty-plus year olds singing along, even if under their breath. I have been known to blow out my voice screaming along to it; one memorable trip in a car with an old friend Emma, the two of us kept rewinding and singing this until we had no voice left. I love this song. Awesome.
'It's A Jungle Out There' This track that leads out side two has a different sound and feel to it, but it also has a completely different backing band, led by Paul Schaeffer. The music is almost laid-back, and I thinks that's the difference makes this track stand out in a positive manner. Cool track.
'Going Through The Motions' The opening of this track with the kiddie chorus annoys me, but the rest of the song is a decent rock track, co-written by Ian Hunter (of Mott The Hoople fame) and Eric Bloom (from Blue Oyster Cult… now there's an interesting combination!). Again, it has a different feel to it and it works. Steinman was great at producing a song to its strengths and not making everything sound like a Meat Loaf track. Forgotten track, but unfairly so.
'Tears' We slow down for a ballad that is an excellent change of pace. Sung with song-writer Frankie Miller, this is a great song that I believe was even released as a single. Another forgotten track that deserves more love than it gets. Tyler could deliver in all musical styles. And it leads straight into…
'Take Me Back' A mid-paced rocker and a decent track that is basically Tyler begging for her ex to take her back. This is a wonderful song that is also often forgotten. Tyler had so many great tracks on her albums that people just don't know about, and which would have been classics if sung by anyone with a lesser volume of hits on one album.
'Straight From The Heart' As we opened with a cover, we close out the album with a cover, this one that Bryan Adams classic from the Cuts Like A Knife album. It's a pretty straight forward cover, albeit with more instrumentation, and stands up as well as the original. Tyler's voice has similar tones to Adams' and this song is a great fit for her. And this is a magnificent way to close out the album.
Faster Than the Speed of Night is known for the big singles and little else, when it is, in fact, an incredibly consistent album from one of the best female singers of all time. The fact that 'Total Eclipse Of The Heart' is still so well known shows the lasting impact this album had. Too often albums are overwhelmed by the big singles, and in this case, that is a damn shame because this is one of the finest albums of the 1980s.
Do yourself a favour, track this album down and give it a listen. You will not be disappointed.