Category Archives: Pat Benatar

Today’s Top 5: Pat Benatar

Most folks know the first video played on MTV: “Video Killed the Radio Star” by the Buggles. What many people often forget, or never learned, is the second video: Pat Benatar’s rendition of the Rascals’ “You Better Run.”

In the beginning, MTV basically translated the radio experience to TV – and that, believe it or not, was it. (The “reality” programming that now congests the cable channel wouldn’t arrive until 1992 and The Real World.) VJs, aka video jockeys, introduced music videos and sometimes interviewed the artists. As this list of the first 208 tracks played shows, the songs spanned the typical AOR spectrum of styles. There was plenty of new wave, rock and pop, in other words, but no R&B or soul. And there were limited videos available at the start, as that list shows, which meant many clips – including “You Better Run” – were played over and over again.

The impact was immediate.

In her memoir, Between a Rock and a Hard Place, Pat Benatar recalls, “In one week, our world changed. After Crimes of Passion, I’d become much more recognizable, but it was nothing like what happened after MTV. To have a hit song on the radio was to have someone know your voice, your sound. To have a hit video was to have someone know your face. The semi-anonymity that we enjoyed was gone. We had officially arrived, and America had seen our faces—a lot. In the week that followed MTV’s launch, I could no longer go to the grocery store or the movies, because I was swamped. People didn’t simply look at me and think I looked familiar. They thought they knew me. It was great and awful, a blessing and a curse. There was no handbook for how to deal with that kind of stardom. Even musicians who’d hit it big on the radio never had to contend with their faces being literally everywhere overnight.”  (The memoir is well worth the read, I should mention.)

Prior, her career was already on an upward arc – her first album, In the Heat of the Night, was released in August 1979 and made it to No. 12 on the charts; and the single “Heartbreaker,” which was a mainstay on AOR radio, made it to No. 23. A year later, Crimes of Passion soared to No. 2 on the charts, while one single, “Hit Me With Your Best Shot,” cracked the Top 10 at No. 9 and another single, “Treat Me Right,” eked into the Top 20 at No. 18.

But MTV pushed her into the stratosphere. Here’s one of her latter-day videos, from 1985, which I always liked:

Anyway, the scans that spread out across this page are from the Pat Benatar fan club circa the Get Nervous (1983) album. The LP (and cassette) came with a mailer, which I sent in; I received the fold-out pamphlet a month or two later. One side has the pictures; the other, the album’s lyrics. And speaking of Get Nervous, here’s Pat and band on British TV in promotion of it…


Today’s Top 5: December 1980 (via my Christmas List)

fullsizeoutput_1167That’s me sometime in December 1980: I was 15, a high-school sophomore and unabashed music freak. My all-time favorite act was Paul McCartney & Wings, though the Beatles were a pretty close second. I owned several of the Beatles’ LPs, including their red (1962-66) and blue (1967-70) best-ofs, and listened to them quite a bit. But McCartney (with and without Wings) was current, and churning out new product on a regular basis – an important thing. His erstwhile partner and friend, John Lennon, was shot to death on the 8th of the month, not long after releasing his first album in five years.

Prior to his death, I owned Lennon’s Shaved Fish compilation and the “(Just Like) Starting Over” single, which had been released in late October; I bought both at the Hatboro Music Shop. Joe Celano, the proprietor, was accustomed to me taking upwards of an hour flipping through the LP racks in his (fairly small by today’s standards) store before settling on a single 45, which cost a buck. What can I say? I was a kid; money was tight.

Money was tight for adults, too. The economy was, all things being equal, a disgrace. Unemployment clocked in at 7.1 percent for the year; and the wage killer known as inflation was 13.5 percent. Those economic bad times, which continued for the next few years, were why Ronald Reagan soundly defeated incumbent president Jimmy Carter that November.

Anyway, to my Christmas list:


It consisted, as the above picture shows, of two hand-held video games, neither of which I received; four LPs, three of which I did; three books, of which I received all; a calendar; and a wallet. (I also received, as always, clothes and stuff.)

fullsizeoutput_116aOf the video games: I was a Space Invaders enthusiast, and often played for 20 or 30 minutes on one quarter at the arcade in the Village Mall. I believe I already had it for our Atari VCS console, but could be mistaken – that may have been to come. The handheld Entex model just meant that I could have taken it with me – perfect for backseats, the school bus and/or school cafeteria. I have no idea what drew me to list Toss-Up; I likely saw a TV commercial and thought it looked like fun. (It was actually made by Mego, not Meeco; and now goes for $1,499 on Ebay.)

Of the books – G. Gordon Liddy’s autobiography, Will, is an odd request for a 15-year-old kid to make, but I was an odd kid; I saw Liddy interviewed on The Dick Cavett Show and found him fascinating – just as I found professional wrestling fascinating, which explains The Main Event. The Beatles Forever, of course, needs no explanation. I still have the copy I received that Christmas in my personal archives (aka the attic).

And now to today’s Top 5: Christmas 1980 (via My Christmas List).

1) Pat Benatar – “Heartbreaker.” I’ve written about Pat Benatar before on this blog, most notably on this Top 5. Although I’m sure I first heard “Heartbreaker,” “I Need a Lover” and “In the Heat of the Night” in 1979, simply because I listened to rock radio, I didn’t buy anything of hers until her second album, Crimes of Passion, in late 1980.

2) Wings – “Wild Life.” The Wild Life album wasn’t one of McCartney’s best, but it has its moments.

3) Paul McCartney & Wings – “Medley: Hold Me Tight/Lazy Dynamite/Hands of Love/Power Cut.” Red Rose Speedway, the album that followed Wild Life, is a much better produced effort from McCartney & Co. Originally slated to be a 17-song, double-LP set, it was trimmed down to one LP by cutting nine songs and adding this 11-minute medley…which, for whatever reason, I liked at the time. I still do, though that may be nostalgia at play.

4) The Beatles – “A Day in the Life.” Nicholas Schaffner’s Beatles Forever tome, remains one of the most insightful books about the Beatles written. And, since there is no actual song associated with the book – I’ll go with one of the Beatles’ best.

5) The Doors – “L.A. Woman.” I didn’t receive the Doors’ Greatest Hits that Christmas. I actually didn’t need it – anytime you wanted to hear the Doors, all one had to do was turn on rock radio and, within an hour or so, you were guaranteed to hear “Light My Fire,” “Hello, I Love You” or one of their other radio staples. In time, I eventually picked up their first album, Morrison Hotel and the L.A. Woman LP.

Today’s Top 5: October 1983

IMG_5108October 31, 1983: Ronald Reagan was president, and morning in America was still a far ways away: the unemployment rate was near 10 percent for the second year in a row. Ten days earlier, the Beirut barracks bombing, which killed 299 American and French troops, had occurred; and we’d just invaded Grenada in what was seen by some as a cynical misdirection ploy and others as justified and heroic.

Movies released that month included Never Cry Wolf, Never Say Never Again, The Dead Zone and The Right Stuff. The No. 1 song was “Islands in the Stream,” a pop confection written by the Brothers Gibb and sung by Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers. The best-selling novel, according to the New York Times, was James A. Michener’s Poland; and the best-selling nonfiction book was Erma Bombeck’s Motherhood: The Second Oldest Profession. I’d mention TV but, honestly, it was pitiful, as this schedule shows.

I was 18, a college freshman, living at home and working as an usher at a movie theater. That last fact put money in my pocket, which gave me a modicum of freedom – as much as $3.35/hour could buy, at any rate. I’d used some of that freedom to see the Muddy Blahs (aka Moody Blues) in concert 10 days earlier; and, on this day, I exercised more of it with two purchases: Paul McCartney’s new Pipes of Peace and Neil Young’s new-to-me Decade, a three-LP compilation of his career through 1977.

For today’s Top 5: Music I Bought in October 1983.

1) Paul McCartney – “Through Our Love.” Pipes of Peace was reissued yesterday, alongside its companion album, Tug of War; and I listened to it last night for the first time in near-32 years. It’s safe to say that it’s not his best outing, but it’s also not his worst – basically a mix of leftovers from the Tug of War sessions, one piece of pure pop gloss (the MJ duet of “Say, Say, Say”) and three wondrous works: the title track, breezy “So Bad” and this, which features a tremendous melody and lyrical message. Love, in both the abstract and specific, is indeed the answer for most of life’s ills.

2) Buffalo Springfield – “Mr. Soul.” I’d gotten into Neil Young’s music just two years earlier, with the release of re*ac*tor in 1981, so was playing catchup; Decade, which is one of the best anthologies released by a still-vital artist, was a great addition. The Buffalo Springfield songs, which I’d never before heard, were a revelation; and, in two weeks time, I purchased their one-LP Retrospective.

3) Irene Cara – “Fame.” True story: a year or so ago, Diane and I tuned in the 1980 movie Fame and the songs were silent – lips moved, but we couldn’t hear what they were singing or the music, period. Yet, we kept watching, and, even without the music, the movie worked – a little long, and very much of its time, but entertaining. Anyway, to the point: I have no idea why I waited until 1983 to pick up the 45 of the movie’s theme, but I did. Perhaps I’d recently caught it on Prism, a popular premium channel in the Philly area at the time, I don’t know. But this video is interesting and fun. It was filmed in 1982, likely to cash in on the MTV craze, and mixes footage from the film with shots of Cara lip-syncing to the song on the streets of New York.

4) Sly & the Family Stone – “Everybody Is a Star.” By rights, I should be including “Little Red Corvette” from Prince’s classic 1999 here, as I bought it on cassette on the 18th, but the Purple One removed his music from YouTube a while back, so I’ll instead go with something from Sly’s Greatest Hits, originally released in 1970, which I picked up on the 15th.

5) Pat Benatar – “Love Is a Battlefield.” It’s an odd thing, music fandom. I’ve stuck with some artists (Paul and Neil, for instance) since discovering them; others, however, I’ve relegated to my personal nostalgia circuit. One example: Pat Benatar. I doubt it had much to do with her music, per se, as this single – which enjoyed a five-week run atop the pop charts – is quite good, and expands upon her stylistic motif. I.e., she wasn’t repeating herself. But it was the last single or album of hers I purchased, save for her one-CD Best Shots compilation a decade-plus later. One possible reason: this video.