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Reddy, Helen - 1983 Imagination


ARTIST: Reddy, Helen
ALBUM: Imagination
YEAR: 1983


LINEUP: Helen Reddy - vocals * Marty Walsh, Paul Jackson - guitars * Nathan East, Neil Stubenhaus - bass * Ricky Lawson, David L. Kempner, Vinnie Colaiuta, John Robinson - drums * Robbie Buchanan - keyboards, synthesizers, piano

TRACK LISTING: 01 Handsome Dudes * 02 Don't Tell Me Tonight * 03 A Winner In Your Eyes * 04 Let's Go Up * 05 Imagination * 06 Looks Like Love * 07 The Way I Feel * 08 Guess You Had To Be There * 09 Yesterday Can't Hurt Me * 10 Heartbeat

WEBLINKS: | Helen Reddy FB Page

Helen Reddy may not be the first name you think of when considering classic AOR, but like many other female solo stars of the 70's she took a stab at the genre in its heyday, presumably in an attempt to stay relevant. Australian born Reddy was one of the biggest pop stars of her day in the early to mid-70's and her iconic 'I Am Woman' put her at the forefront of the feminist movement. By 1983 Reddy was experiencing a severe decline in popularity, with her divorce to her husband and manager Jeff Wald making bigger news than her music. Research into the album suggests Reddy was buried by MCA, with the label burying the album upon release, failing to promote it and essentially derailing Reddy's career. This was a huge shame, as the music presented here is outstanding and easily fits in with the best of the era.

The Songs
Plenty of session heavyweights were enlisted for the album and naturally they don't disappoint. All the tracks are from outside writers, par for the course in 1983. 'Handsome Dudes' opens the album in self-assured West Coast style, a Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil co-write. It's low key and sultry, Reddy's distinctive vocals a natural fit for AOR. 'Don't Tell Me Tonight' storms out of the gates with some insistent sax work and develops into a hard rocker with a classic chorus. This had to be a side of Reddy nobody expected to see. The Randy Goodrum penned 'A Winner in Your Eyes' is a straight ballad, big on piano and orchestration, with a melodic guitar solo thrown in also. 'Let's Go Up' is another West Coast effort, with shades of Nielsen-Pearson in the overall sound. The lack of guitar weakens it somewhat for me though. The title track is a hi-tech piece, very new-wave inspired with keyboards all over the place. This would have been a hit for anyone else, but Reddy wasn't the flavour of the day. 'Looks Like Love' is consummate AOR, the upbeat chorus tailor made for 1983. This is magnificent and was penned by country artist Keith Stegall. 'The Way I Feel' is the first of two Eric Kaz/Wendy Waldman penned tracks and runs the gamut of AOR theatrics, very exotic and steamy in execution. 'Guess You Had To Be There' reminds me of Don Johnson's 'Voice On A Hotline' melodically, suggesting Don paid close attention to this album when considering Reddy's cover of 'Heartbeat' that ends the album. I have to admit this version is the most intriguing of the three I've heard, with the AOR elements more dramatic than even Johnson's or Waldman's original. Truly stunning and a real eye opener if there ever was one.

In Summary
An undiscovered classic for sure, the album died upon release and Reddy didn't record a new album until 1990 as she reeled from the failure of her career and marriage. This one however deserves a listen from any fan of the early 80's AOR scene, with a veritable feast of highlights. Rarely have I been as pleasantly surprised by any album as I was by this.

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#1 | gdazegod on August 01 2017 02:34:06
Helen Reddy - 1983 Imagination
YouTube Video:

Helen Reddy - 1983 Heartbeat
YouTube Video:
#2 | gdazegod on August 01 2017 02:35:26
An interesting insight into the failure of MCA to promote this record back in 1983. And I thought EMI America were bad.

#3 | jefflynnefan on August 01 2017 02:43:05
Sounds like she was trying to change her style and image. Maybe MCA was against that idea? This sounds pretty good, I shall seek it out. I give 'Angie Baby' a spin every once in awhile. BTW, Helen recorded a pretty much unknown song by Jeff Lynne called 'Poor Little Fool'. It sounds like it could have been a outtake from 'A New World Record'.
#4 | gdazegod on August 02 2017 08:41:50
I've seen some videos on YouTube with Helen, circa the early 80's. OMG, she looked fantastic. Swoon.. flower
#5 | super80boy on October 22 2017 19:19:44
A sophisticated Female Westcoast AOR set for sure. 'Imagination' is a slick cool slice of sultry new wave synth – like it a lot. Sounds like it could have been on an early 80's Blondie album, especially with the added island sounds. The expressive 'Guess You Had To Be There' and drama fueled closer 'Heartbeat' are standouts.
#6 | gdazegod on October 22 2017 19:49:25
I reckon a few more FF from the early 80's are due for a write-up here. Cher's 1982 record 'I Paralyse' is one of those, maybe also Berlin. hmm!

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