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Saturday, March 17, 2012

Laura Branigan - Branigan

This month marks the 30th anniversary of the release of the debut album from American singer-songwriter Laura Branigan (1957-2004). In March of 1982, Branigan hit the charts and did well in the US (number 34 on the Billboard Hot 200), Canada (number 14) and Australia (number 50).

Side one kicks off with “All Night With Me” which was also the first single. While it only made it to number 69 on the US Billboard Hot 100, this ballad is a pleasant piece of pop. Branigan’s vocals convey the emotion of a woman ready to give herself completely to her love.

Next up was the second single and Branigan’s break-thru signature song, a cover of a 1979 hit from Italy. With its European-disco sound, “Gloria” danced its way into the Top-10 on numerous charts (number 8 in Germany, number 6 in the UK and New Zealand, number 4 in Ireland, number 2 on the US Billboard Top-40 and the US Dance charts, and number 1 in both Australia and Canada). Trevor Veitch reworked the lyrics in English to make it a song about a woman living life in the fast-lane and a friend encouraging her to slow down. The single earned Branigan a Grammy nomination for Best Pop Vocal Performance Female (she lost to Melissa Manchester). For me, the song had the perfect mix of synth-pop and dance.

“Lovin’ You Baby” has a big, dramatic sound to it and showcases Branigan’s powerful vocals.

The B-side to the second single was “Living a Lie”. I really like the urgency to the keyboards and guitars on this one; it definitely has a hard rocking edge. I definitely think this one could have been a hit had it been released on its own.

Side two begins with “If You Love Me”, another strong ballad. No surprise there as Diane Warren was one of the writers on this one.

“Please Stay, Go Away” is all about the conflicting emotions that come with some relationships. The chorus punctuates the point home with a little help from the overall driving rhythms.

“I Wish We Could Be Alone” is the only track on the debut that was written by Branigan herself. The lyrics tell of a couple in love, but both parties are married to other people.

Randy VanWarmer penned “Down Like a Rock”, a rollicking track about a woman drowning and the man who watches her sink. Yes, that sounds like a downer of a song subject but the rhythm on this one makes it a really fun song.

The album closes out with one more ballad “Maybe I Love You”. This one has a bit of a Linda Ronstadt feel to it with that soft-rock sound. If you’ve been keeping track, you see that the tracks alternate from slow to fast for the entire run. For me, that definitely works to keep the album from getting stagnant or repetitive.

Back in 1982, I owned a copy of “Gloria” on 45 and played both sides of that one. I was an instant fan of Laura Branigan’s music from that point on. What can I say? I have a weakness when it comes to female pop singers. I’ve had the whole Branigan album now for about four years and it is one of the more played 80’s albums in my iTunes library. Clearly my iPod’s album shuffle likes it as much as I do.

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