Review: Bonnie Tyler – The RCA Years
Compiling Tyler’s first four albums from 1977-81, Lost In France and It’s A Heartache are the big tunes on a thoroughly-researched 4CD-set. Tyler had been singing in clubs for seven years by the time her debut The World Starts Tonight was released. Disposable debut single My! My! Honeycomb was omitted – it’s one of 21 bonus tracks here – but Tyler had a strong proto-Eagles country-rock style from Lost In France on. The album was stymied when follow-up single More Than A Lover was absurdly banned by the BBC and, though it failed to chart, The World Starts Tonight is a promising debut, even though Tyler’s voice is smoother than most will be familiar with.
The after-effects of vocal surgery were responsible for Bonnie’s rasp and she used it powerfully on some of second album Natural Force a year later. Understandably dwarfed by It’s A Heartache, most albums would struggle to live up to such a powerhouse. Covers of Carole King’s (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman and Stevie Wonder’s Living For The City are too gimmicky to fit Tyler’s downhome style, but Here Am I deserved far more success.
By Diamond Cut, Tyler seemed lost. It can’t have helped that writer/producer team Ronnie Scott (not the jazz impresario) and Steve Wolfe were also Tyler’s managers. They were too obviously trying to find another It’s A Heartache. Tyler’s voice was strong as ever, but on songs as plodding as Baby I Just Love You, they were testing the adage of “She could sing the phonebook and make it sound powerful.”
The final album here, Goodbye To The Island, was another commercial flop, again with Scott/Wolfe controlling everything. There was also an uncomfortable raunched-up makeover. For all that, there are some lost gems. We Danced On The Ceiling and Wild Love were intriguing country-dance tunes predating early Taylor Swift by decades. Add in Tyler expert Liam Brigg’s exhaustive sleevenotes and the compilation is rescued from being totally eclipsed by what came next.
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