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Listening Room #15 – Pat Benatar – Crimes of Passion

Pat Benatar – Crimes of Passion (1980) on Chrysalis

Pat Benatar was one of the first female rockers that I was ever exposed to. I came from a small, rural town in Pennsylvania, where “classic rock” filled every rock station. Apparently, it was the only thing considered music, and demographically, it wasn’t shocking that we didn’t have a more diverse radio enviroment. But, classic rock was what I had, so, I looked for inspiration when it was broadcast. Granted, this was the 90s, and I could have found out about artists other ways, like MTV, or the internets, or concerts. But this was a small town, I didn’t have cable or the internet, so the radio was all I had for a long time. At times, it felt like I was really in 1970, but I digress.

On rare occasions, a female voice would come through on the dial, and it was more than likely one of three voices: Ann Wilson (Heart), Joan Jett, or Pat Benatar.

In fact, Pat Benatar’s song “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” was one of the first songs my band had covered by a female artist. She inspired me to rock out. Who doesn’t love her vocal awesomeness? Who doesn’t love her killer 80s fashion? She’s not in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame yet, but she damn well better be soon. Even if you don’t like that Hall of Fame idea, (me), you still know what ladies deserve it!

I have almost all of her albums on vinyl. Cheaply, I might add. Why has Pat Benatar been regulated to the $1 bin in used record shops? Why? She was a killer force for rock music in the 1980s and even now, there are not many who match her touring cred, vocal skills, and just pure charm. Is it because she was so popular, that somehow, there is just an overload of her work on vinyl? Is it that she’s just not cool, like the piles of Barbara Streisand or Deep Purple vinyl records I also see in the $1 bins? I don’t really know, but good for me and all those who want to listen to some women who just rock.

Indeed, Pat Benatar is one of those women in rock powerhouse names. Like Blondie or Stevie Nicks, Pat is accessable to many women and grrrls out there looking for other female musicians to role model. This was true for me. I didn’t have Riot Grrrl even when it was going on. No local music scene where rebel womyn railed against the all-boys club.  A lot of people put down artists that make it really big. They must have sold out somehow? Right? No. I don’t think so. In some ways, Pat’s ability to speak to such a wide audience is liberating. Eventually, you find others, lesser known and such, but there is nothing wrong starting with and loving the big ones.

So, Crimes of Passion. This album is a juggernaut for rock anthems. “Hit Me With Your Best Shot,” “Treat Me Right,” You Better Run,” “Hell is for Children,” and “Out a Touch” are all worthy of turning it up to eleven. They are solid when it comes to guitar riffs, climactic choruses, and singable hooks. Gosh, how can you not love Neil’s crisp and lightly distorted guitar solos? They are just so perfect! The lyrics, I might add, are empowering.  “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” is a rather tongue and cheek call, challenging your potential lover. “Treat Me Right” is a theme for demanding your lover stop playing with your heart. “You Better Run” is similar, demanding your significant lover stop telling lies, and confusing them. And last, “Hell is for Children” brings light the issues of child abuse.

Pat always just seemed such a confident performer. Even if you have never seen her live, you can hear it in her voice. Maybe it was her opera training. But she commands your attention at the flicker of an octave jump. She was one of the first female artists featured on MTV. She is one of the highest selling female rock artists of all time. She knows what she is doing, and I love it! A class act all the way!

Track Listing:

  • Side A
    • Treat Me Right
    • You Better Run
    • Never Wanna Leave You
    • Hit Me With Your Best Shot
    • Hell Is For Children
  • Side B
    • Little Paradise
    • I’m Gonna Follow You
    • Wuthering Heights
    • Prisoner Of Love
    • Out A Touch

Pat & Neil Online:


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