Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Pat Benatar - Live From Earth

This month marks the thirtieth anniversary of Live From Earth, the fifth album from Pat Benatar. This 1983 release, which sold over a million copies and reached number 60 in the UK, number 45 in Sweden, number 13 on the US Billboard Album chart and number 2 in Australia, features live concert recordings of eight earlier tracks taken from Benatar’s Get Nervous tour. It then ends with two new studio recordings.

Side one opens with “Fire and Ice” from the album Precious Time. For me, this live version lacks a little bit as opposed to the studio recording.

From Get Nervous (click here for that review) comes “Lookin’ For a Stranger”. I like the energy on the performance here, particularly the quirkiness that comes from the keyboards.

Also from Get Nervous we have “I Want Out”. I have never been a big fan of this song, so the live version does not do a lot for me either.

“We Live For Love” was on Benatar‘s debut In The Heat of the Night (click here for that review). The live version thunders through like an uncontrolled storm, sending lightning strikes in all directions. Benatar’s soaring vocals, a favorite part of mine on the original studio recording, get a little drowned out by the band here though.

Also from Crimes of Passion comes “Hell Is For Children”. In concert, an extended instrumental opening serves as the prelude of this rocker. Charles Giordano provides a new keyboard solo to this version.

Side two kicks off with “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” from Crimes of Passion (click here for that review). The tempo on this one seems just a hair too slow, for me, for some reason. Maybe it is the heaviness of the guitars and drums that make it appear that way. For this one, I’ll stick with the original.

Also from Precious Time we have “Promises In the Dark”. I like the pretty piano opening to this one, with just the keyboard and Benatar’s beautiful voice.

“Heartbreaker” first appeared on In The Heat of the Night. Again, I am not a big fan of the opening guitars on the recording here; they sound too bloated and less sharp.

The first of the two new studio tracks was “Love Is a Battlefield”. The song went to number 17 in the UK, number 11 in Switzerland, number 6 in New Zealand, number 5 on the US Billboard Hot 100, number 2 in Canada, and number 1 in Australia, the Netherlands and on the US Mainstream Rock charts. It also won the Grammy Award for Best Rock Vocal Performance, Female. Of course, the music video which ran constantly on MTV in 1984 is one of the iconic ones from that era - featuring a runaway Benatar ending up as a prostitute. In a memorable, shoulder-shimming extended sequence, she and the other call girls defy their sleazy pimp. The dance mix of this song was a big favorite of mine at dances and clubs back in 1984, and it still remains a top track for me thirty years later.

“Lipstick Lies”, the second studio track, closes the record. The opening reminds me of some kind of 80’s urgent newsbreak audio signal.

Live From Earth is a mixed bag for me.

As a long-time Pat Benatar fan, some of the live recordings give amazing renditions while some of them fall short of the outstanding original studio versions. There is no denying, though, that this band can put on solid live shows; this is one of those acts I would have loved to have seen back in the day.

Of course, the two brand new tracks at the end made this one a must-have back in the day. Today, with the ease of digital buying, you can just pick those last two off for a fraction of the cost of a whole album. That’s certainly what I ended up doing a few years ago.

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