Great Rock Albums of 1985: Pat Benatar- Tropico

Some of the same accusations I hurled at Starship on their “Knee Deep in the Hoopla” album were also hurled at Pat Benatar when her “Tropico” album came out. Those accusations were that she had abandoned her hard rock roots and sold out and became a top 40 artist. Like I said last post, the label ‘sold out’ was banded about quite a lot back in 1985 against many artists both fairly and unfairly. The question here is: Did it apply to Pat Benatar?

Honestly, at first, I was in agreement that she had. Then again, I was one of those who banded the phrase about quite liberally. After all, I had grown up and rocked out to her first four hard rocking albums. Then to hear the softer, more keyboard oriented “Tropico” album, I was rather disappointed. Like so many, I expected Pat to go rocking on forever. But was this album a sell out? Returning to it over the years with a much more informed and open mind, my answer is an emphatic “NO!”

First of all, while this album is certainly much softer than its predecessors, it is in no way 80s top 40 synth pop. If anything, Pat goes more progressive rock here with the keyboards tastefully done. Full marks should be given to Charlie Giordano here, he does a masterful job on the keys throughout the album. While there are no real power chords on the album, Neil Giraldo still works his guitar magic on the album. Most of the guitars sound acoustic and the even the electric guitars are toned down but Neil still lets you know he hasn’t gone away. My only lamentation was that there isn’t any of his great guitar solos on it and that in my opinion, causes the album to suffer a little. However, what is omnipresent throughout is the unmistakable voice of Pat. Yes, “Tropic” may not be as musically fierce as her other offerings but her voice still shines on each and every track. Then again, she could sing any form of music and make it sound great.

As for the songs, I didn’t want to admit it back then but I have always kind of liked the first single, “We Belong.” It’s is anthem type song that although not a rocker, is still cool. However, I still can’t take to the second single, “Ooh Ooh Song.” Then there’s the hidden gem on the album. That honour goes to “The Outlaw Blues.” That song is the closest Pat comes to her previous material but it’s not a rocker. Just a good song. “Love in the Ice Age” and “Suburban King”  are good songs too.

Track Listing:

  1. Diamond Field
  2. We Belong
  3. Painted Desert
  4. Temporary Heroes
  5. Love in the Ice Age
  6. Ooh Ooh Song
  7. The Outlaw Blues
  8. Suburban King
  9. A Crazy World Like This
  10. Takin’ It Back

Pat Benatar

Pat Benatar- vocals

Neil Giraldo- guitars, harmonica, percussion

Charlie Giordano- keyboards, percussion

Donnie Nossov- bass, backing vocals

Myron Grombacker- drums, percussion

A long time ago, I took back all the things I said about Pat Benatar selling out on the the “Tropico” album. Yes, it’s different and I still prefer her earlier hard rock albums but this one is still good.

Next post: Van Zant

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8 Responses to “Great Rock Albums of 1985: Pat Benatar- Tropico”

  1. I hated this album when it first came out. It just wasn’t PAT. It took years to grow on me & that was my age. Now, it is grand. Her next album, Seven The Hard Way is my absolute favorite, even tho she hated making it. And, I almost got to see her in concert for that tour but, she canceled it due to her daughter…or her pregnancy…or something. I was so mad.

    She evolved. I bought a box set with recorded interviews & Spider made a remark about her being more of a soulful blusey artist than a rocker. Some of that was his influence & the times of women taking the spotlight in the late 70s, early 80s.

    Gravity’s Rainbow was really good, too.

    Wide Awkward in Dreamland produced “All Fired Up” which sounded boring & forced. I still can’t stand it. Ditto “Hit Me With Your Best Shot”, the most overplayed Benatar song in history. YUCK.

    Good review!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, you and I think alike here when this album first came out. I wasn’t impressed in 1985 but I have grown to really like it. I agree, there are better songs of hers than “Hit Me With Your Best Shot.” My personal favourite is “Heartbreaker.”

      Liked by 1 person

      • You know, I love so much of her body of work that, I can’t choose a fave song because so many of them reach me in a different way. Seven The Hard Way is my fave only because, percentage-wise, it has the most songs on one album that I like.

        My two fave songs that capture her high range the best are “Wuthering Heights” & “Legend of Billie Jean”. She could shatter glass.

        Liked by 1 person

      • She could because she has such an amazing voice. As far as my favourite PB album, it’s a toss up between the second and third albums.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. […] Source: Great Rock Albums of 1985: Pat Benatar- Tropico | 80smetalman’s Blog […]

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Y’know, I still haven’t ever heard a Benatar album. I like the sound of this one, though… great write-up.

    Liked by 1 person

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