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Hard Machine

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Album Review

While the club sound Stacey Q and producer Jon St. James established on 1986's Better than Heaven was insinuating, it showed limitations in the context of a full album. Though commercially not nearly as successful, this sterling follow-up set broadened Q's musical horizons, adding more evident touches of pop and R&B in the production and arrangements. The subtle, midtempo "Don't Make a Fool of Yourself" brings to mind early Madonna with a bit more sophistication; the new-wave-tinged "The River" is an intoxicating melting pot of rock guitars, club beats, lush vocals and poetic lyrics; and the quiet closing number, "Another Chance," builds so smoothly that it seems criminally short. And Stacey Q may not have the best voice around, but she employs several stylistic approaches that lend themselves well to the musical contexts — whether it be an understated coo on the aforementioned "Another Chance" or a more driven, semi-belting vein on the cheery "After Hours." ~ Justin M. Kantor, Rovi

Customer Reviews

A very good Stacey Q album

Before starting my review, thank you itunes for letting me discover that Stacey Q's debut followup was not "Nights Like This" but "Hard Machine". I always thought that "Better Than Heaven" was one of the most entertaining albums of 80s, as it is still an inspiration for italo disco and 80's pop lovers. Although I also like "Nights Like This", it is a relatively unsuccessful attempt to turn Stacey's sound into more R&B. Since Stacey's sound works best with synth-driven pop tracks, "Hard Machine" provided me another ten enjoyable songs by her which does not introduce anything different from her debut but still sounds quite well. I'm sure her fans and "Two of Hearts" lovers will also like this album too.

Where is "Nights Like This"?

The only reason I'm giving "Hard Machine" three stars is because of the spectacular Don't Make a Fool of Yourself. As far as I'm concerned, the rest of the album sounds like (bad) outtakes from "Better Than Heaven." Stacey Q's third Atlantic album, "Nights Like This" is the recording where Ms. Q brought it all together for an entire album of satisfying dance-pop. Unfortunately, her time in the spotlight had passed, which is a shame. Tracks such as Nights Like This, Take That Holiday, Goin' Out, and Too Good to Me should have brought Stacey Q an even wider audience. Let's hope iTunes offers this overlooked gem soon.

Pick and Choose

If you like Stacey Q, there are a couple of jems on here. I really like "I Love You" and "The River" because they sound like they could have come from her first album Better than Heaven. The rest of the songs drag in my opinion and sound a bit dated. Kudos to ITunes for completing the Stacey Q if they could work on the Dead or Alive catalog...including all of the singles.


Born: November 30, 1958 in Fullerton, CA

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Best known for her '80s dance-pop smash "Two of Hearts," Stacey Q's Madonna-ish look and youthful age helped her appeal to teens as well as clubgoers during her relatively brief time in the spotlight. Born Stacey Swain, she first began performing as part of the Ringling Brothers Circus, and joined a synth pop outfit called Q (named after the James Bond gadget man) in the early '80s. As the focus of the group shifted to its new vocalist, their name was changed to SSQ (for Stacey Swain) and they landed...
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Hard Machine, Stacey Q
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Customer Ratings