Great Rock Albums of 1986: Fiona- Beyond the Pale

220px-Fiona-beyondthepale1

Here’s another album I missed in 1986 because it came out in the US after I went to the UK. Only this time, I knew that Fiona was a rather busy girl that year. She appeared in an episode of “Miami Vice,” more on that in a future post, and she did come to Britain with Bob Dylan because the two appeared in a film together. However, I didn’t know that she put out a second album that year as well. Then again, while her debut album wasn’t bad, it didn’t have me licking my lips in anticipation of  the next Fiona release.

Listening to the album, I am pleasantly surprised! Second album, “Beyond the Pale” is better than her self titled debut. The songs are better written, the quality of the musicianship is better and most important of all, Fiona’s vocals are a noticeable improvement on the first album. On that album, she struggled with the ballads but on the ballad, “He’s On My Side,” from this album, she makes a better job of it. In fact, it’s a rather good power ballad. Oh yes, the album has more of a harder rock feel on it.

Now for the downside: while “Beyond the Pale” is more rockier, many of the songs are damaged by the let’s put some heavy synths in here to make it sound more commercial and that keeps some good songs on the album from becoming great. I fear that Fiona was still under the dictate of corporate record producers here. The opener is a stellar example of what I mean. It explodes at the beginning with a good hard rock edge and then somewhere in the middle of the song, the synths come in and take that edge away, though I will stop way short of it making the song congruent to what the title suggests, it’s not a tragedy.

Two songs where it’s done right are “Living in a Boy’s World” and “Thunder and Lightning.” The former starts with a heavy synth intro, which for a brief second, deceives you into thinking it’s going to be a pop song, but then it just rips into a good rock song, my vote for best on the album, especially with the cool guitar solo. The latter is almost as good. While the synths are there, the guitars do win out and make it a respectable rocker with a cool guitar solo. Other songs like “Tender is the Heart,” tend to follow the opener. Their potential to be great hard rock jams is slightly diminished by the over use of synths. Another exception is “You Better Wait,” which is more of a straight forward rocker.

On a personal observation, two things the debut album has over “Beyond the Pale” are first, I still prefer the hit single, “Talk to Me,” from the debut over “Hopelessly Love You” on this one, although “Hopelessly Love You” has a guitar solo which “Talk to Me” didn’t have. Second, while “Keeper of the Flame” is an okay closer on the album, it comes nowhere near “The Na Na Song” from the first album. Then again, that one is in my top ten list of great album closing songs.

Track Listing:

  1. Tragedy
  2. Hopelessly Love You
  3. Living in a Boy’s World
  4. Thunder and Lightning
  5. Tender is the Heart
  6. Running Out of Night
  7. In My Blood
  8. He’s On My Side
  9. You Better Wait
  10. Keeper of the Flame
fiona

Fiona

Fiona- lead vocals

Bobby Messano- guitar (tracks 1, 9, 10)

Mike Salmer- guitar (tracks 2,3, 5-9)

Reb Beach- guitar (tracks 2-4, 7, 10)

Nile Rodgers- guitar (track 2)

Beau Hill- keyboards

Benjy King- keyboards (track 10)

Joe Franco- drums (tracks 1,3,4 6, 8-10)

David Rosenberg- drums (tracks 2,5,7) percussion (tracks 3,8,10)

Donnie Kisslebach- bass

Harlem Katzenjammer Horns- horns

Kip Winger- backing vocals (tracks 1,4,7,9)

Stephen Benben- background vocals (track 1)

Louis Merlino- backing vocals (tracks 4-6)

Sandy Stewart- background vocals (track 7)

I wonder if this album would have been more successful is Steve Lukather played on it.

 

While “Beyond the Pale” is better than the debut album, it wasn’t enough to save her from obscurity. I blame the corporate record companies. If they had just let her rock out a bit more, she could have been a great metal singer.

Next post: John Fogerty- Eye of the Zombie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10 Responses to “Great Rock Albums of 1986: Fiona- Beyond the Pale”

  1. Holy moly look at those musicians. Yeah I am pretty sure I would like this!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. You know it would have been the best with Lukather!! But shit…what a stack of stellar musicians. I’m with Mike, I want to check it out just for that.

    Liked by 1 person

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