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Walk Under Ladders

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iTunes Review

An awful lot of ‘70s-era singer/songwriters tried to ride the New Wave — but few pulled it off with as much grace as Joan Armatrading did on Walk Under Ladders (1981). Producer Steve Lillywhite surrounded her with throbbing synthesizers, abrasive guitars and squealing saxophones while retaining her innate soul and sensitivity. Joan seems energized by the fresh sounds, zestfully applying her deep-toned vocals to upbeat tracks like “When I Get It Right,””I Wanna Hold You” and “At The Hop.” She coolly glides through the thoughtful “I’m Lucky” and turns “The Weakness In Me” into a moving confession of love. A special treat are the reggae tracks “Romancers” and “I Can’t Lie To Myself” (the latter featuring the legendary Sly and Robbie on drums and bass). As usual, Armatrading’s lyrics are acutely introspective and tinged with self-deprecating humor. A well-picked cast of session players make the album’s tracks jump — Thomas Dolby’s quirky keyboard riffs and bassist Tony Levin’s tough-yet-supple bass lines are especially tasty. Walk Under Ladders could easily have been another example of a folk-rooted artist losing her way amidst the harder sounds of the early ‘80s. Instead, Armatrading turned this excursion into a triumph.

Customer Reviews

Probably the best ever...

Walk Under Ladders is the first time I ever heard Joan Armatrading, or heard of her. Since this album, I have made it a point to acquire every singe thing I can find by her. My collection started out entirely on vinyl, and through the years I've exchanged it all for CD copies, and I have every single album ever made by her. If you'd like to get an idea of Joan Armatrading, this album would be a great place to start. Something about her just amazes me, and this album started it all. Actually it saved my life. Many years back I was hospitalized for some drug addiction problems, other than my clothes, this is the only other thing I brought with me, listening to it each and every day I was there, it got me through one of the toughest times of my life. Thank you Joan Armatrading... I love you

One of my all time favorites

I wore this out on my turntable in 1982. Very happy to find in on Itunes. What a wonderful album.

Joan At Her Best!...

I played this album to death when it first came out. It still holds up and feels contemporary even now. Sly and Robbie are bombastic on " I Can't Lie...", Thomas Dolby's input on "I'm Lucky" and others is wonderful. Jerry Marotta's drum work on "Eating the Bear" and "When I Get It Right" is killer. Joan's vocal delivery and guitar work are grade A. Here's a tip...try making love to "Only One" on repeat. It works wonders. When I used to dj, it was my last song for many months, people would run up to the booth and say "what is that great song?". There's not a bad track to be found here. Great stuff!


Born: December 9, 1950 in Basseterre, St. Kitts

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Born in 1950 on the island of St. Kitts, Joan Armatrading was her country's -- as well as Britain's -- first female to gain international success as a singer/songwriter. Spicing her take on folk with elements of rock, blues, and jazz, she has had a remarkably long, consistent career. Armatrading immigrated to England in 1958 and began writing songs six years later. In 1970, she met lyricist Pam Nestor, and the two began collaborating on material later featured on Armatrading's 1972 debut, Whatever's...
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