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Los Angeles Times (11/24/85), A Trend-conscious Nicks < Stevie Nicks < Main Page

Los Angeles Times (11/24/85), A Trend-conscious Nicks

Los Angeles Times
Sunday, November 24, 1985

A Trend-conscious Nicks
by Chris Willman

“Rock A Little”

“I’ll take off my cape for you,” sings Nicks on her fourth solo album, signaling that - despite the return appearance of that old crystal ball on the cover - “Rock A Little” is the least mystically oriented collection to date from the sometime Fleetwood Mac chanteuse.

Much of the trademark quasi-ghostly floweriness is gone, replaced by down-to-earth romanticism so minimal it’s often incomprehensible. But the words may be the last ting that most listeners will be paying attention to on an album whose clashing musical production styles reflect its extended, troubled history.

Her longtime producer, Jimmy Iovine, still has the best all-around instincts for how to make the tracks move without turning her into more of a rocker than she really is (except when he Heartbreaker-izes her in “Imperial Hotel”). Her pipes are increasingly ragged, but right, in such low-key settings as the title track, where she doesn’t sound as if she has anything to prove. But Nicks began hiring on other helmsmen during the long course of recording, apparently to modernize her mellow rock with often incongruous results.

The high-tech attempts to beef up weak material come off as only so much Hamburger Helper. The foremost shockeroo is the opening “I Can’t Wait,” with an oh-so-’80s arrangement uncomfortably reminiscent of Hall & Oates’ “Out of Touch” (a phrase that she repeats several times in the course of the song, unfortunately). And the beat-box dance treatment of “Sister Honey” won’t exactly have you hankering for the 12-inch monster mix - just the next Fleetwood Mac album.

On the inner sleeve Nicks honors synthesizer player Rick Nowels, who produced the most trend-conscious of the tracks, as her “saving grace.” But, commercially speaking, she really ought to be awarding that credit to Chas Sandford, who wrote an co-produced the first single, “Talk to Me,” a winning invitation to intimacy. For - though we don’t have the benefit of that famed crystal ball - there don’t seem to be any other monster smashes here waiting in its wake.

Date: 1985-11-24         Number of views: 1605

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