Poor Bonnie Tyler. The gravelly-voiced Welsh singer made three highly competent albums for CBS in the 1980s, achieving varying levels of success with each. All three should have been – and could have been – major hits: she was signed to a record company that knew what it was doing, her performances were the strongest of her career, the production values were superb, and the songs themselves were strong enough as time would show. A great many of them were to become well-known in the hands of other artists after Tyler’s original versions were released. But she herself failed to reap the commercial rewards she deserved from such a collection of quality material.
The first of Tyler’s CBS works was Faster Than The Speed Of Night, released in 1983 and her most successful album. Lead single Total Eclipse Of The Heart went to #1 in several countries, but it was in the UK that this success was most notable: after four albums recorded for RCA in the late Seventies had failed to chart, she finally had a hit album in Britain. It yielded some other minor hit singles, but it was two standalone singles that return her to the UK Top 10: A Rockin’ Good Way, a 1984 duet with Shakin’ Stevens that went to #5, and Holding Out For A Hero, recorded for the ‘Footloose’ soundtrack the same year and a #2 hit (held there for three consecutive weeks while Mick Jagger and David Bowie were at #1 with Dancing In The Street) when it was given a second push in 1985.
The latter song was included on her next album Secret Dreams And Forbidden Fire, which was where the hits dried up. Although the album itself sold reasonably well, the singles taken from it – and nearly every one of its eight tracks was issued as a single somewhere in the world – received little radio airplay and therefore struggled to chart. Of the six UK singles featured on the album, only Holding Out For A Hero achieved sales in the volume Tyler deserved; follow-up Loving You’s A Dirty Job But Somebody’s Gotta Do It was the only other hit and only just made it, peaking at #73.
Amongst the songs featured that could have done much better as singles was Desmond Child’s If You Were A Woman (And I Was A Man), a rock anthem that should have been a hit on both sides of the Atlantic. Released in March 1986, it was Tyler’s final single on the US Hot 100, reaching #77; it made #78 here. Child was known to be disappointed that such a strong song, with a fine vocal from Tyler, hadn’t gone on to achieve more. Teaming up with Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora of Bon Jovi, they re-worked the song, changing the lyrics and emphasizing the catchiest elements of the tune. Bon Jovi’s (admittedly superior) version, titled You Give Love A Bad Name, went to #1 in the US and was the first of a string of big hits for the band in the UK.
Tyler retained Child’s services as producer for her third and final CBS album, Hide Your Heart. (It was issued in the States as Notes From America, the opening track on the album and one of its four singles.) Once again, the song selection was impeccable. However, lead single The Best, released in January 1988, stalled at #95: a frustratingly poor showing, especially as the song would be a world-wide smash for Tina Turner the following year. Coincidentally, another track on the album, Don’t Turn Around, had originally been recorded by Turner and used as the B-side to her 1986 single for Capitol records, Typical Male. CBS didn’t seem to pick up on the song’s potential either as Tyler’s version remained as an album track. Island records did, though, and in the same year Tyler’s version appeared, reggae group Aswad took the song to #1 in Britain. Finally, one of the tracks from Hide Your Heart that was chosen as a single, Save Up All Your Tears, flopped when Tyler put it out, but it would be an international hit for Cher in 1991. Her last release of the 1980s was the compilation album Heaven And Hell, a joint effort with rocker Meat Loaf, the connection being producer (most notably, Faster Than The Speed Of Night) and songwriter (most notably, Meat Loaf’s Bat Out Of Hell) Jim Steinman.
NEW SINGLES on sale from Aug. 1
David BOWIE Ashes To Ashes (RCA BOW6)
Hazel O’CONNOR Eighth Day (A&M AMS7553)
U2 A Day Without Me (Island WIP6630)
BON JOVI (Jon Bon Jovi) You Give Love A Bad Name (Vertigo VER26)
Billy IDOL Catch My Fall (Chrysalis IDOL13)