“The Ultimate Collection” by Pat Benatar

Artist: Pat Benatar
Title: “The Ultimate Collection”
Label: Capitol Records
Release Date: 6/24/2008
Genre: Hard Rock
Rating: 4/5

For as long as I can remember there has always been something special for me in the music from one of Rock’s true queens, the one and only Pat Benatar. Granted she wasn’t the first woman to show that you didn’t need to be male to rock hard but one cannot question her impact on the Hard Rock genre with a list of hits that would make many an artist humble at the end of the day. We first heard her with the debut “In The Heat Of The Night” and this album gave us not only the ground breaking hit “Heartbreaker” but also a cover of John Cougar Mellancamp’s “I Need A Lover”. To many listeners the tune took on different meaning when she made it a part of her repertoire. Musically there were a lot of tasty hooks going on with the band she had under her command and along with really melodic guitar riffing from Neil Giraldo and solid drumming that kept it all in place, when all of this was working together the end result was something magnificent. I was a fan of hers who followed the earlier years and first few albums but as time marched on my own musical tastes varied and required that I seek out much heavier material to sate my needs but despite this I managed to find time every once in awhile to enjoy something from her as a guilty pleasure.

As a hits compilation this one does right by me as a listener from back in the day as it touches upon the first three albums heavily and delivers all of the hits from those releases which were in constant radio rotation during the time that they first came out. Remember we were dealing with FM radio as the main means to enjoy Rock music for the Internet and Satellite radio were still decades away from being something the public had access to. For the most part I was happy with the selections from the first album, but felt they could have also offered up one or two more from it for good measure. She did a version of Sweet’s “No You Don’t” on that album, and along with “Wuthering Heights” have remained my personal favorites still to this day. The second album gets five inclusions and that made sense since all of the tracks were radio staples and could be heard a number of times over the course of any deejays broadcast time. As I glanced around the other inclusions from the other albums that I didn’t necessarily follow religiously, I still found that much of what I liked from those releases were delivered here as well.

The collection spans some forty tracks and it should be noted that they have wisely made use of a great amount of available CD playing time. Each CD spins for almost the full 80 minutes that one can access and I love that they gave this to the listener. I am truly tired of those artists who give you a 35-45 minute CD nowadays since the space is just wasted and should be made use of. Our journey into Pat’s past also only takes us through the albums released on Capitol Records, and leaves us at her 10th album “Gravity’s Rainbow”. It makes sense that music on a different outlet would not be presented here for the listener. A booklet is included that delivers some kind liner notes from a personal friend of Pat and husband Neil and this gives you a great look at the lady and her music over the years but sadly I felt that they were lacking in the photos in this same booklet. There are only a few to enjoy and it just left me flat with what they did present when it came down to it. With a collection like this, I want to see a healthy number of across the years stuff from the beginning until they leave off. Despite my reservations, the music offered up sounds fantastic under the remastering process and it’s a CD that you will play loud and play often. Pat Benatar’s music seems to sound as strong and good today in my ears as it does during the time when I first heard a lot of it. When I listen to her I songs I admit that sometimes I am brought back to a different time and place during the younger years of being a musician and knowing many other ones. It should be noted that if you had a band with a girl singer that much of Pat’s catalog was a part of the to do list and you always hoped that whomever was representing the band on the microphone would be able to handle it when the time came to perform.

There is really some timeless stuff here and it’s quite inspirational to the younger rocker set in my opinion. Its music that showed you could be a hit maker and still have a song that rocked and was not something that you have heard over and over from one hundred different bands before. Should you be one of those listeners that only knows of a choice few tracks, then this is a perfect item to help you get more up to speed on the influential performer. Pat and Neil are still touring for a few months out of the year and making new fans at each and every stop, so grab yourself this amazing compilation and try to catch them in concert before she decides that she has had enough and finally chooses to rest upon her laurels. The day might be farther away than we think, but one never knows in Rock and Roll.

Track Listing:
1. Heartbreaker
2. I Need A Lover
3. In The Heat Of The Night
4. We Live For Love
5. Treat Me Right
6. You Better Run
7. Never Wanna Leave You
8. Hit Me With Your Best Shot
9. Hell Is For Children
10. Promises In The Dark
11. Fire And Ice
12. Just Like Me
13. It’s a Tuff Life
14. Precious Time
15. Shadows Of The Night
16. Looking For A Stranger
17. Anxiety (Get Nervous)
18. Little Too Late
19. The Victim
20. Lipstick Lies
21. Love Is A Battlefield
22. Diamond Field
23. We Belong
24. Ooh Ooh Song
25. The Outlaw Blues
26. Painted Dessert
27. Invincible (Theme from The Legend Of Billie Jean)
28. Sex As A Weapon
29. Le Bel Age
30. All Fired Up
31. Don’t Walk Away
32. One Love (Song Of The Lion)
33. Let’s Stay Together
34. Payin’ The Cost To Be The Boss
35. True Love
36. I Feel Lucky
37. The Good Life
38. Everybody Lay Down
39. Somebody’s Baby
40. Every Time I Fall Back

Official Website: http://www.benatar.com

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