Friday, February 20, 2015

Linda Ronstadt - Mad Love

This month marks the thirty fifth anniversary of Mad Love, the tenth studio album from Linda Ronstadt. With this record, she was well into her second decade as a recording artist. This 1980 release hit number 65 in the UK, number 37 in the Netherlands, number 22 in New Zealand, number 12 in Japan, number 11 in Canada and number 6 in Australia. Here in the US, it debuted at number 5 on the Billboard Album chart, peaking at number 3, and spending a total of thirty-six weeks on the chart. It was also nominated for a Grammy award the following year.

Side one starts with the title track. "Mad Love" was written by Mark Goldenberg who also played electric guitar and provided backing vocals on the album. The mid-tempo song appeared on the 1980 album Thin Red Line that he recorded with the Cretones.

"Party Girl" was written by Elvis Costello and appeared on his 1979 album Armed Forces. Ronstadt goes with her classic country-rock sound on this ballad.

The rapid-fire "How Do I Make You", the first single, went to number 30 in New Zealand, number 15 in Canada, and number 10 on the US Billboard Hot 100. Nicolette Larson provided some of the backing vocals here. I have fond memories of hearing this one on my bedroom stereo as I listened to the local Top 40 radio station.

"I Can't Let Go" was a 1966 hit by the Hollies. As the third single from this album, her cover peaked at number 48 on the US Billboard Adult Contemporary chart, number 31 on the US Billboard Hot 100, and number 28 in Canada. Again, this was another radio favorite from 1980. I especially liked Ronstadt's harmonizing with herself on the chorus.

The second single "Hurt So Bad" hit number 43 in the Netherlands, number 37 on the Canadian Adult Contemporary chart, number 25 on the US Billboard Adult Contemporary chart, number 17 on the Canada singles chart, and number 8 on the US Billboard Hot 100. This was a cover of the 1965 hit by Little Anthony and the Imperials. The scorching guitar solo here was done by Danny Kortchmar who performed on a number of Ronstadt's records.

Side two opens with "Look Out for My Love", a song penned by Neil Young for his 1978 album Cost a Time. The guitar on this version and Ronstadt's vocal delivery remind me a bit of Young, so it is a fitting tribute to the man.

The next two tracks were also penned by Goldenberg and appeared on Thin Red Line. "Cost of Love" has a very catchy chorus and is a perfect fit for Ronstadt's delivery.

My favorite part of "Justine" is the foundational guitar chords; they really make the song for me.

The last two songs were also covers of songs by Elvis Costello. "Girls Talk" was a B-side to his 1980 single "I Can't Stand Up For Falling Down" as well as a huge hit for Dave Edmunds. Ronstadt's cover reminds me very much of the latter's version.

"Talking in the Dark" was a non-album single for Costello in 1978. This one is easily my least favorite track on the album, so coming in at the closing spot is fine.

I find it very interesting that four of the tracks that Ronstadt covered here were songs that were also released in early 1980. Clearly she was in close contact with both Goldenberg and Costello the year prior, which would account for her recording versions of these songs prior to the original bands' releases. In the case of the three Cretones songs, Ronstadt's versions are the only ones I've heard so far. Time to seek out some rare music.

Back in the 80's, I knew mostly the singles from this release. I did pick up a copy of Mad Love digitally a few years ago when I was filling in her catalog. This album, given its release time, has a stronger new-wave blend to it and she does a good job with most of the material.

For more from Linda Ronstadt, click here.

1 comment:

Mark said...

My current favorite Ronstadt album. Wish I'd found it in '80