Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Rachel Sweet - Protect The Innocent

This month marks the thirty fifth anniversary of Protect the Innocent, the second studio album from Rachel Sweet. This one spent eleven weeks on the US Billboard Album chart back in 1980 and peaked at number 123.

Side one opens with “Tonight”, the album’s second single and the B-side to the third single. This one has a rapid-fire, new-wave rhythm to it that is aggressive and edgy. There is a rawness to Sweet’s vocals here.

“Jealous”, a promotional single, is next.

“I’ve Got a Reason” was written by Moon Martin and appeared as the opening track on his 1979 album Escape From Domination. Sweet released on the B-side of this album’s second and fourth singles. I enjoy how her vocals soar on this, another very tough tune about love and vengeance.

“New Age” was written by Lou Reed and first appeared on the Velvet Underground’s 1970 album Loaded. This one is slow and moody, and Sweet’s vocals sound a lot like Stevie Nicks’ in spots.

“Baby, Let’s Play House” was the first song by Elvis Presley to appear on a national music chart back in 1955. Sweet released her rocking cover rendition as a single in late 1979. I bet this one would have been awesome when performed live in concert.

The Damned’s first single in 1976 was “New Rose” on the Stiff Records label. It is only fitting for Sweet to cover her label-mates’ song here, and she does so with an incredible level of attitude and energy.

Side two begins with “Fool’s Gold” which first appeared on the 1976 album Heat Treatment by Graham Parker. Sweet released her version of this song about seeking love as the fourth single from this album.

Sweet co-wrote “Take Good Care of Me” with Steve Everitt. The beat has a Ska flavor to it; I could easily have seen a band like No Doubt covering it in their early days.

“Spellbound”, the third single, was the only one to chart (it spent one week on the Billboard chart and debuted at number 107). It has a bit in common, thematically, to another hit she would have three years in the future with “Voo Doo”.

Sweet also wrote “Lovers’ Lane”, the album’s final single. This ballad features a beautiful piano arrangement and some sweet saxophone.

“Foul Play” is another solid rocker about the death of a relationship. It has some very catchy guitar hooks, one of which reminds me of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s version of “Heard It Through the Grapevine”.

“Tonight Ricky”, the closing track, was another original composition by Sweet. It has a sweet jazzy vibe to it, with Sweet going with a cutesy vocal inflection.

Protect The Innocent is a long out-of-print record which is a shame as this is a solid album. Many of the tracks I picked up from a Rachel Sweet compilation, while the rest I sampled thanks to folks on YouTube in order to do this review. If she had input on the songs recorded here, clearly she had an interesting musical taste as shown by the mix of covers.

For more from Rachel Sweet, click here.

No comments: