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Fiona - 1985 Fiona

ALBUM: Fiona
LABEL: Atlantic
SERIAL: 7 81242-1
YEAR: 1985
CD REISSUE: 2004, Wounded Bird, WOU-1242


LINEUP: Fiona Flanagan - vocals * Bobby Messano - guitars * Donnie Kisselbach - bass * Benjy King - keyboards * Joe Franco - drums * Rick Bell - sax * Peppi Marchello - producer

TRACK LISTING: 01 Hang Your Heart On Me * 02 Talk To Me * 03 You're No Angel * 04 Rescue You * 05 James * 06 Love Makes You Blind * 07 Over Now * 08 Na Na Song


Looking at the album cover, you might think that Fiona is a Madonna or Cyndi Lauper clone. Really, is the cute chick on the cover a hard-rockin' chick? And the first song that many of us heard and saw on MTV, 'Talk To Me', sounds like it could easily have come from an album of material like you'd find on a Stevie Nicks or Bonnie Tyler album. That kept me from fully investigating this album until 2006, even though I absolutely love 'Talk To Me'.

The Songs
When I finally got this CD, I immediately played that song. Only after that did I investigate the rest of this album. Once 'Hang Your Heart On Me' started, I knew that this album could have some great potential. This is a fun rocking tune with solid guitar and keys, and it really sets the tone for the rest of the album. Fiona wrote this with bassist Donnie Kisselbach and Harry Reilly. 'Talk To Me' was penned by Beau Hill (who eventually became Fiona's husband, albeit for a short time) for Shanghai; this version is rawer than Shanghai's and features an absolutely killer sax solo. One of my favourite all-time tunes. Once we hit 'You're No Angel' (penned by producer Marchello), it is obvious that we are really rockin' here. The guitar break by Bobby Messano is way harder than you'd imagine looking at the album cover! Another Messano tune follows, the haunting 'Rescue You'. This one slows down just a bit, with more keyboards than guitars. This is similar to what you would hear on a Pat Benatar album. This marks the end of side one of the record or cassette; time to flip it over. The first dropoff occurs with 'James' (Marc Blatte & Fiona), which is another guitar rocker that sounds a little too much like a Joan Jett song for my liking. Fiona's voice really needs the right vehicle to reach peak effectiveness, and this one is not quite as good as the ones that precede it. The first and only ballad is 'Love Makes You Blind' (Marchello). It first appeared on the soundtrack to the movie 'No Small Affair' and is what led to her record deal. Pretty good song, but not really the type of song she sings the best. But we're back to greatness with 'Over You', written by bassist Donnie Kisselbach. This one rocks, much like 'You're No Angel', and that's a good thing. Fiona's desperate voice takes this song to a very high plane indeed, and the two Messano solo breaks are perfect. Alas, the final song, 'Na Na Song' (Marchello) is a real letdown to me, again veering too much into Joan Jett territory (nothing against Ms. Jett, but she's always been very hit-or-miss to my ears). Again, not the best vehicle for Fiona's voice, as she really needs the right kind of song.

In Summary
This is very short album, coming in at just over 32 minutes. That's not necessarily bad, as it doesn't go on too long to greatly diminish the quality. To me, it features five killer songs, one other pretty good song, and two that are on the ordinary side. This got a re-release on Wounded Bird recently (no lyrics, unfortunately). It is also available on iTunes and Rhapsody (and probably others), so you can get it easily. Videos for 'Talk To Me' and 'Love Will Make You Blind' are on YouTube. I'd definitely recommend tracking down the really good tunes; if you like female-fronted AOR, this is a good one to get. Fiona released three other albums. There are definitely some good tunes to be found on them, but none of them have the high marks of this one.

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#1 | gdazegod on January 12 2009 20:54:34
Welcome to the reviewers crew Jeffrey!
#2 | sabace on January 14 2009 13:32:30
I think the review is right on! I love the lp and it must be said Fiona is gorgeous!
#3 | super80boy on May 04 2014 17:38:06
It took me while to finally getting around to exploring this album. Being a huge fan of female fronted AOR melodic rock, I was impressed with this solid dose of big beefy songs. The GDM review is right on the mark.
#4 | reyno-roxx on January 14 2017 17:49:59
I think I have always been alone in the belief that Fiona was a tad overrated. 'Beyond The Pale' was a better record than the debut, both from a song and production point of view. Listening to the Rock Candy reissue of this album today hasn't changed my view. There were much better singers out there than Fiona. Indeed, -Atlantic previously had one in Sally Cohen and Backseat Sally but they completely dropped the ball there. i remember being in Florida when Fiona's debut was released. 'Talk To Me' was all over the radio back then and it always bugged me that Shanghai had the best version of this song, originally an at the time unreleased Airborne number, but they couldn't get a hit with it for love or money.

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