Melissa Etheridge wasn't out of the closet when she released Yes I Am in 1993, yet it's hard not to notice the defiant acclamation in the album's title. This barely concealed sense of sexual identity seeps out from the lyrics, and it informs the music as well, which is perhaps the most confident she has ever been. It's also the most professional she's ever been (perhaps not a coincidence), as she belts out these unapologetically anthemic numbers with a sense of finesse that's suited to lifestyle newspaper pages, not rock & roll, thereby setting herself up for her bout with celebrity during the second half of the '90s. Yes I Am wouldn't have been as convincing if it wasn't so slick, though; her Springsteen-isms and Janis tributes are tempered by songs that work as album rock favorites, even if they aren't as epic or passionate as their inspirations. She may not have songs as great as she did the first time out – "Somebody Bring Me Some Water" remains her finest moment – but she has a sense of purpose and identity that suits her well.
Like fellow Aussies the Sherbs, Zoot never escaped teen-star status. But as Zoot Locker proves, they were certainly adapt at churning out clever pop tracks. Because of their time period, Zoot used every trick in the psychedelic book; but most songs maintain the three-minute mark, resulting in shrewd and skewered singles much like the Move delivered. Innocent innocuousness such as "Monty & Me" about walking the dog or "One Times Two Times Three Times Four" seems unfairly buried in the past. Of course, Beatles nods abound, such as the Lennon-isms of "Hey Pinky." With this smoking version of "Eleanor Rigby" the quartet attempted to jettison their early "pink" image, jumping aboard the bizarre "heavy covers" bandwagon with Vanilla Fudge and Rare Earth. The Hollies are another pervasive influence ("Flying" shares rhyme schemes with "Dear Eloise" over a "Helter Skelter" riff) while "Mr Songwriter" echoes the Byrds by way of Dylan. "Freak" foreshadows "Highway Star" and many Sweet moments.