Today’s POP RESCUE from a fate unknown, it’s 1983’s Faster Than The Speed Of Night – the fifth album by Bonnie Tyler.
This 9 track album opens with 4th (of an over all 7!) single Have You Ever Seen The Rain?, a cover of the Creedence Clearwater Revival track. Light, fast pianos dance you into the dramatic beats of the opening. Bonnie is soon in, nailing the lyrics with real force, as the bass chugs along. She makes light work of the vocals here, including a roaring ‘yeaaaaaah!‘ after the first chorus. Despite the ‘yeah’, the UK single-buying public gave it a ‘no’, keeping it at bay at #47 in the chart.
This is followed by title track, and 3rd single Faster Than The Speed Of Night, which was written and produced by Jim Steinman, who if you didn’t recognise by name, you soon would by style – as this song has all the hallmarks of a Meatloaf. For a brief moment, the song’s intro reminds me of Murder She Wrote. It then evolves into an over-dramatic rock romp with more cymbal crashes and guitar than you can ever imagine. Bonnie even manages some high pitched choral vocals. Despite all this, the single, which was released just 2 months after her previous huge number one single, stalled at #43 on the UK singles chart.
Next up is Getting So Excited, which definitely sounds very 80s – both musically and vocally. Bonnie’s vocals are choppy here, and the music is stark in contrast to the previous song. This reached #85 in the UK singles chart. Oops.
Fourth track is the huge lead single, Total Eclipse Of The Heart – a complete masterpiece. On this album, the song is in it’s full 7m 2s glory, with plenty more verses that I’m not familiar despite this song always turning up in all kinds of places. Bonnie’s vocals here are powerful, raw, and feel heartfelt – she really puts in a performance. It’s easy to see why and how this song has been so popular. The piano, bass, backing vocals, and the sheer theatricals of it, make it both epic and catchy. It’s definitely worth watching the video, even the parody literal video is worth it.
It’s A Jungle Out There follows this, and this has a distinct ska feeling to it. Just weeks after this album was released, this song turns up again, as the title track to Three Dog Night‘s 16th album. Bonnie manages to just about make her own mark on this song, although the two versions are fairly similar. At times there’s an echo of the melody of Barbara Streisand‘s Woman In Love, but it’s fairly feint.
Up next is Goin’ Through The Motions – a cover of the 1977 Blue Öyster Cult track. Bonnie’s version opens with some kids chanting, before a drum fill shuts them up for some quality of Bonnie time. This version feels more raw and rock than the original, but it rarely treads new ground. The kids return to see the track out.
A much welcome duet Tears is up next, with Bonnie duetting with the song’s writer Frankie Miller. Their vocals work perfectly together, with his sounding almost like a male version of her (think Rod Stewart, and you’ll be close). The song doesn’t stray very far though, and it feels somewhat short despite its almost 4m duration.
Take Me Back is next, and this song seems on good form. Again, there’s some echoes of Meatloaf here, although the song itself is actually written by one of Bob Dylan’s guitarists. There’s some really nice backing vocals here, which help Bonnie build up into the catchy chorus and towards the ending.
The album closes with a cover of Brian Adams’ 1983 hit Straight From The Heart. Adams had written this several years before, and Bonnie was one of a string of artists who released it, some before Brian himself released it from his third album. This was a single for Bonnie in the US.
Over all, there’s some great epic songs here, but there’s also some seemingly pointless covers (Goin’ Through The Motions, Straight From The Heart, and It’s A Jungle Out There) which feels almost like some favourite recent songs were simply re-recorded with her vocals.
When it’s good, it’s brilliant, but it feels like a few more inspired cover choices might have worked better.
Where is Bonnie Tyler now?
The success that Bonnie received from Total Eclipse Of The Heart has certainly aided her career. However, she has never quite matched it, but came close with her #2 hit – the re-released version of Holding Out For A Hero from the summer of 1985.
Despite a more recent run of low-ranking or non-chanting singles, she has continued to record albums and perform live, with a strong fan-base, and a period number of celebratory career best of albums.
Her most recent single was 2013’s Believe In Me, from her 16th album Rocks And Honey. The song represented the UK at that year’s Eurovision Song Contest. Sadly this single stalled at #93 in the UK singles chart, and the song gave the UK a Eurovision finishing place of 19th with 23 points.
POP RESCUE RATING
- POP RESCUE RATING: 3 / 5
- 1983 UK CHART POSITION: #1, certified Silver.
- POP RESCUE COST: £2.49 from an eBay seller.