If you're going to pillage someone else's ideas, then go for broke. Because even if you find yourself crammed between the barriers of creative space, utterly at a loss for ideas, expression, or thought, you'd still have a self-respect buzzing in your ear like a mad angelic insect, putting down the newspaper and taking out a cigar to remind you that, hell, if want to sound like Radiohead when even Thom Yorke doesn't want to sound like Radiohead, you might as well take it to preposterous, bombastic, over-the-top levels. Add church organs, mental electronics, riffs bouncing off each other like the monolithic screams in 2001: A Space Odyssey, and you'll finally be in position to crack skulls like coconuts and make the world's speakers ooze gooey blood.
Arista was poised to take Taylor Dayne beyond the dance tracks and drum beats which established her as a force to be reckoned with on her smash debut Tell It to My Heart. Can't Fight Fate, her sophomore outing, featured much more straight-ahead rock & roll, lush production, and top-notch songwriters (including Diane Warren, who penned her biggest hit "Love Will Lead You Back"). The album proved an even bigger success than her debut, scoring two Top Ten hits, one number one hit, and one Top 20 hit. Unfortunately, however, the momentum was lost after this album, and Taylor Dayne never again reached the commercial stratosphere she scaled with this set. The album's dance songs, such as the lead-off Top Five hit "With Every Beat of My Heart," feature more organic instrumentation, although there are a few straight-ahead dance tracks, such as "Up All Night." The ballads are lush and dramatic, and one of them, "Love Will Lead You Back," soared all the way to number one. The real killers, however, are the rock songs, and Taylor delivers like a true, seasoned rock star.
Hooking up with regular Madonna collaborator Patrick Leonard as the co-producer of this album proved to be just the trick for Ferry. Bete Noire sparkles as the highlight of Ferry's post-Roxy solo career, adding enough energy to make it more than Boys and Girls part two. Here, his trademark well-polished heartache strikes a fine balance between mysterious moodiness and dancefloor energy, and Leonard adds more than a few tricks that keep the pep up. Five out of the nine songs are Ferry/Leonard collaborations; all succeed, from "Limbo"'s opening punch and flow to the cinematic (and unsurprisingly French-tinged) feeling of the title track. The atmospheric, almost chilling "Zamba"'s minimal, buried drums, soft synths and doomy piano, make it the best of that bunch. Ferry's best moment here is all his own, though – the great single "Kiss and Tell," with a steady, bold bassline leading the way for his slightly dissolute portrayal of mating rituals and all they entail. Like Boys and Girls, the album's supporting cast mixes a lengthy list of session pros with a few guest stars.
If The Human Menagerie, Cockney Rebel's debut album, was a journey into the bowels of decadent cabaret, The Psychomodo, their second, is like a trip to the circus. Except the clowns were more sickly perverted than clowns normally are, and the fun house was filled with rattlesnakes and spiders. Such twists on innocent childhood imagery have transfixed authors from Ray Bradbury to Stephen King, but Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel were the first band to set that same dread to music, and the only ones to make it work. The Psychomodo was also the band's breakthrough album. The Human Menagerie drew wild reviews and curious sales, but it existed as a cult album even after "Judy Teen" swung out of nowhere to give the band a hit single in spring 1974. Then "Mr Soft" rode his bloodied big top themes into town and Rebelmania erupted. The Psychomodo, still possessing one of the most elegantly threatening jackets of any album ever, had no alternative but to clean up. Harley's themes remained essentially the same as last time out – fey, fractured alienation; studied, splintered melancholia, and shattered shards of imagery which mean more in the mind than they ever could on paper.