Friday, 21 May 2010

Belinda Carlisle - Runaway Horses

More store-bought sugar-coated romantic idealism from the crimson godess of skyscraper rock-pop, Belinda Carlisle followed up the massive success of Heaven On Earth with Runaway Horses. Coming unstuck commercially in the US, the singer continued to make impact in Europe and Australia instead, releasing no less than 6 singles out of a possible 10.

The album's biggest chart attack and lead single Leave A Light On's instructive verses are sexy extensions of compassion, but the chorus is Belinda on full beam. Plus it reminds me of some guy (who despite being two years older than me now pretends to be three years younger) when I was seeing two ex-boyfriends of each other at the same time 'back in the day'. To put things in perspective, 'afterwards' in his car, after this had played, the Three Degrees' When Will I See You Again? came on and I think we both knew the answer.

With glinting U2 effects coming into focus, Belinda is 'shaken' and focused on a romantic energy I want in on. I heard things I didn't want to hear, that armies had marched over this one, but horses as well really takes the biscuit. Me? I'd be pressing charges, but Runaway Horses is a galloping 'whoah ho' rampage that more than excuses the hideous acts she underwent to accomplish such a strident anthem that is now firmly lodged inside my very own top ten favourite Carlisle classics.

Diva hallucination Vison of You is seductively sulky. Her vocals have never been so sympathetically attended to with enchanting percussion being particularly picturesque. Failing to skidmark the Billboard Hot 100, Diva Incarnate favourite Jeniffer Rush released her own warmer Rn'B treacled version in 1992, but Belinda need not worry. The incredulous middle 8 is mortified and more devastatingly sachirine touches have one in hummable agony.

The stoic mid-tempo flow Summer Rain ignites yet more open-wound passion with an ingratiatingly girlish chorus at odds with suspicious verses. She momentarily threatens to sample Madonna's Papa Don't Preach, but settles for a similar exotica to Avalon-era Roxy Music instead.

Quite possibly the most hideous song she ever recorded, La Luna was a successful single in Switzerland and Germany. With vocals gushing like a severed artery, whatever she is crowing about is beyond me.

The British top ten single (We Want) The Same Thing in its original album form is more of a country-willing bar rocker, but that wind-through-the-hair chorus would sound great under any guise. Gutsy and unequivocal - it's a spiritual orgasm. Remixed into a massive Roxette-style explosion of sounds, the single edit is my reccomended definative Belinda experience.

Deep Deep Down is preaching to the choir, tell me a different technique girlfriend. More witchy quaking vocals tremble to pass the time before another towering chorus swamps everything else. Spiced with subtle oriental sounds, Valentine is a sexy slice of self-preservation: 'I'm hurtin so bad' comes too little too late, obviously she regrets her previous song choice demand. Glum strum Whatever It Takes is a vulnerable treat: 'I didn't have much to believe in' is her downbeat resignation, but the shimmery soundscapes soon sort her out.

Dramatic closer Shades of Michaelengelo is an atmospheric ballad concerned with 'quiet storms' and other slow-motion unicorn-racing-through-the-waves imagery. Quiet and serene, Belinda's vocals could make glass bleed, and she projects with heartbreaking honor. Wounded, aching and overcome, this is one of her finest ever ballads and atypically sensitive.

Belinda's dark and stylish-not-stylized vocals make her one of the 20th centuries defining stars even if she criminally remains a footnote for rock purists and pop tourists. Commercially, Carlisle lived and died with her producer Rick Nowells - that's not the case quality-wise, and perhaps in the future I shall get down to explore more, but Runaway Horses was her gooey-inside artistic peak. And for what it is worth, the chorus on We Want is a pop landmark landscape without precedent.



omg. belinda was on fire in the day!
i got to meet her a few years back at a company event where she sang. it was a black tie affair and she showed up in jeans and a sweater. gotta love her bravery!

Mike said...

I loved this album. I bought it on tape and then later cd. That was true dedication back in the day. It was a strong album. "Leave A Light On" is divine. I hope she has another failed comeback... preferably not in French.