Wipe Off The Dust: Sheena Easton Tackles The 3 M's

Thursday, January 14, 2010

I admit. I'm a fan of Sheena Easton. It's not easy to admit that as people my age don't delve in Miss Easton (much less know about her), but it's the truth. In a strange circumstance, 1982's Madness, Money and Music is my favorite record from Miss Easton as, to me, its her most cohesive, shows her at her vocally best (before the synths took over her pipes) and contains songs that hint at Easton experimenting at varying genres. The cover photo tells other wise as this looks like it's a soft-rock snooze fest chock filled with pasty ballads due to Sheena looking like she's on the cover of a Land's End catalog, ready for a weekend in Nantucket with that straw hat on. Yet looks are deceiving.

Things were a little rot your teeth saccharine sweet when Sheena released her debut single, "9 To 5 (Morning Train)" in 1980. But this third effort hints at Sheena trying on new stylish hats as each song feels different from the last and shows the growth of sound on Sheena's part. Throw out the tart and annoying, "Machinery" (which was stupidly released as the first single), and you've got a classy album on your hands. Things got much more interesting when she teamed up with Nile Rodgers, Prince and Babyface later down the road, but this is when Sheena was belting out sappy ballads and punchy bubblegum pop spiked with soul and rock influences. While this album is (absurdly) overpriced, it's one of those albums that if you enjoy Sheena Easton's belting out about "strutting" and *ahem* "sugar walls", then there is no shame in scoping out the earlier music that led her to that raunchy place during the latter parts of the 80's...Songs of choice after the cut...

Weekend In Paris
Quite an ambitious number with tempo shifts from a lush atmospheric haunting ballad to a chugging rock grind. Part glam rock and part soft rock.
Ice Out In The Rain
A moody ballad that feels like Pat Benatar's "In The Heat Of The Night" but with a less rock edge, and with a more soulful feel to it that coasts along eerily.  
There When I Needed You
One of my favorites on the album. I'm hearing Hall & Oates influence, possibly due to the guitar and horn combo, but this song hints at Sheena diving into R&B waters with this punchy number. 
In The Winter
Sheena does Janis Ian's sorrowful classic justice. And I'm telling on myself, but this is one song that gets me a little misty eyed...

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