Pat Benatar

Best Shots (Chrysalis ‘89) Rating: B+
With her operatic vocal flourishes and photogenic good looks it was inevitable that Pat Benatar would become a star in the shallow '80s, and most of her best songs can be found on this 15-track compilation. She’s at her very best on “Promises In The Dark,” “Hell Is For Children,” “Hit Me With Your Best Shot,” “Heartbreaker,” and “Fire and Ice,” all of which turn up the guitar hooks (courtesy of husband Neil Geraldo) while Pat sings dramatically and gives a convincing tough chick pose. However, the anti-child abuse “Hell Is For Children” embarrassingly contradicts the stupid macho shtick of “Hit Me With Your Best Shot,” causing Rolling Stone to call her music “emotionally fraudulent.” Still, at least they rock convincingly, and it’s likely that Pat (who only co-wrote three of the 14 songs here; “Hell Is For Children” is included twice, once in a live version) didn’t mean the words to be taken literally but was instead referring to the emotional scars of love (after all, “Love Is A Battlefield”). Elsewhere, the anthemic, fist pumping “All Fired Up,” the slick vocal showcase “We Live For Love,” the evocative sing along “Shadows Of The Night,” and the catchy theme song from The Legend Of Billie Jean (“Invincible”) all have something to recommend about them. Sure, some of the synth heavy songs here are a bit bland, and even at her best most of these songs have undeniably cheesy elements that fairly scream “early ‘80s!” Nevertheless, I still enjoy the majority of these songs, “guilty pleasures” or not. Pat was certainly a fine singer (with a multi-octave range), as proven by her performance on the largely guitar-less top 5 hit “We Belong.” Primarily covering from 1979-1985, a period during which Pat was a consistent presence on top 40 radio and was featured prominently on MTV, Best Shots is just about all the Pat Benatar I need (“Treat Me Right,” “You Better Run,” and “Precious Time” are the only major omissions I can think of), and I still put it on from time to time to enjoy a really good voice and some enjoyably catchy and surprisingly hard rocking ‘80s sounds. Note: Her 2005 Greatest Hits album has the three above-mentioned songs and is probably the better option, but I don’t have it.

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