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Album Review

It is interesting how the pop divas of the '70s and '80s took some risks, Olivia Newton-John with "Soul Kiss"; Linda Ronstadt singing in Spanish or performing with Nelson Riddle; and Helen Reddy's 1983 project, Imagination. This is her longtime producer Joe Wissert taking Reddy where Kim Fowley attempted to go on Ear Candy, and doing an amazing job. "Handsome Dudes" is not the first time Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil are covered by Reddy, but it works better than "Songs" on Love Song for Jeffrey. The Dane Jeffries title track might as well be the Go Gos or Missing Persons; it's a really great new wave pop tune, served up on a vinyl 12" with an extended dance remix for good measure. Side two is more of this new-styled radio pop, and both "Looks Like Love" and "The Way I Feel" are among the best work Helen Reddy has ever created. Both songs should have been huge hits, and the entire album is more sophisticated in idea and execution than any that came before except, perhaps, Live in London. There is real drama throughout "Guess You Had to Be There" and serious depth in the vocal, the naïve sheen of hits like "Leave Me Alone (Ruby Red Dress)" and "Angie Baby" traded in for sweeping pathos. "Yesterday Can't Hurt Me" is Dennis Lambert and Brian Potter delivering a solid and driving composition more defined than their work with the Grass Roots. Wendy Waldman and Eric Kaz have already struck artistic gold with the aforementioned "The Way I Feel," and Reddy goes back to that well for the album's conclusion, "Heartbeat." It's another snappy, moving, modern-sounding delight. With superb songwriting, crisp production, and her best rock performance on record, Imagination is one of Helen Reddy's finest albums. Not as popular as those which contained her chart hits, Imagination is worth seeking out. It's a sleeper that deserves another shot at success. Each song works in its own way, Randy Goodrum's "A Winner in Your Eyes" just another of the great numbers on this move to MCA after a long run on Capitol. Very impressive.

Customer Reviews

Another of Helen's uptempo gems ignored by radio.

Helen Reddy should have done the same thing Donny Osmond did in 1989 when he got a DJ to play "Soldier of Love" first WITHOUT revealing who the artist was. Listeners liked it and the song became a smash even though Donny's recording career had long been thought to be over. If "Imagination" had been played on Top 40 radio, listeners would have liked the song and given Reddy the same comeback Donny got. (It could easily have been a song by Sheena Easton, The Motels, or Laura Branigan.) "Don't Tell Me Tonight" is another song that would have fit right in with the mid-80's sound of Christine McVie's solo album from that era. And of course, we all know the closing song "Heartbeat" became Don Johnson's only top ten hit. Now if DON JOHNSON could have a hit with that song, why not Helen?! Of course she was in her forties by this time, but so was Tina Tiurner when "Private Dancer" became a smash and yielded five singles. The songs on this album may not have the hooks of Turner's best, but it certainly deserved airplay along with Rick Springfield and DeBarge, among others.

These tracks are STILL taken from vinyl

If you listen to the samples of these tracks, you can still hear pops and cracks in many of the songs. "Handsome Dudes," for example, has a vinyl pop in the exact same spot where it was located when I downloaded the album months ago. So the previous review claiming that most of the tracks are digital now is inaccurate (unless they have the same sound samples uploaded as before, which wouldn't make any sense).

Beware this is from Vynil

Beware, What a rip-off!! This is not a Remastered version from the original tapes of this wonderful album but a Rip from Vynil and even though you can tell they did a good job at trasferring it from vyni, you can still hear clicks and pops and that wonderful fried egg sound from worn out records. What is really amazing is not that this is taken from an LP but the fact that a company like Geffen or its parent company (I think it's Warner) could not trace the original tapes or did not look hard enough. And to make matters worse this is not the only Helen Reddy album taken from vynil being sold at iTunes by Geffen, its parent company and its digital distributor, there are at least two more and there is no disclaimer at all warning you of this fact. In any case if you had the original and you like this album and your LP is either worn out or lost, then getting this might be worth it.


Born: October 25, 1942 in Melbourne, Australia

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Helen Reddy began performing at the age of four in her native Australia; by the early 60s she had her own television series. Between 1971 and 1978, Reddy hit the Top 40 fourteen times with her smooth, airy light-pop singles, including the number ones "Delta Dawn," "Angie Baby," and "I Am Woman." As her hits petered out toward the end of the '70s, her acting work increased,...
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