STEREO REVIEW, SEPTEMBER 1991
Performance: Blues that Jump
After seven albums' worth of radio-friendly, album-oriented rock and a lengthy hiatus, Pat Benatar returns here with a straight-up blues album cut in the company of the purist Roomful of Blues. "True Love" is an unpretentious romp through a set of jump blues, and Benatar has enough of an aptitude for the form to know not to overdo it. She's always sung sassily, but the way she wraps her voice around a song like Bloodshot Eyes -- assisted by a solid shot of reverb -- is a minor revelation.
Benatar and guitarist/producer/husband Neil Giraldo swing hard in the company of the five Roomful of Blues horns; her phrasing is spot-on throughout, and Giraldo does justice to his mentors. They rip through numbers by two Kings -- B.B. (Payin' The Cost to be the Boss and I've
Got Papers on You) and Albert (I Get Evil). In the middle, they sprint through three originals, including a fast one led by a stride piano (I Feel Lucky) and the slow-burning title track, which comes within a few degrees of Peggy Lee's Fever. "True Love" is a
pleasurable comeback album for Pat Benatar, who may have hit us with her best shot when we least expected it.
Reviewed by Parke Puterbaugh
Canada's Music Express magazine, June 1991:
When Pat Benatar and her husband and producer, Neil Geraldo, began writing rock songs for a new album, she reportedly became too bored to continue. Here, after all, is a 38-year-old mother who felt embarassed to slide into the leathers and belt out "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" and "Love is a Battlefield."
So Benatar and hubby turned to their collection of vintage blues records and started recording their own versions. The result is a convincing stylization of blues and R&B tracks with Benatar, supported by the Rhode Island-based Roomful of Blues band and her own musicians, paying tribute to the likes of BB King ("Payin' the Cost to be the Boss") and Albert King ("I Get Evil"). There are also songs penned by the likes of T-Bone Walker ("Evening"), Big Maybelle ("So Long") and Charles Brown ("Please Come Home for Christmas").
Benatar's vocal style is smooth and mature, her demeanor relaxed and comfortable-she never forces the situation or tries to copy someone else. Geraldo also prospers from the departure, laying down some hot guitar licks on "Payin' the Cost to be the Boss" and co-writing a number of new songs. This marks a bold career move to be sure, but one that could pay off in spades if old fans and new listeners will just plug into the music without holding any preconceptions.
[they rate it 4 1/2 stars but don't say out of how many]