Rachel Sweet

...And Then He Kissed Me/Blame It on Love

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Ohio-born and Stiff Records-approved teen dream Rachel Sweet only cut four albums during her too-brief career in music before moving on to become a successful writer and producer in television, and her third and fourth LPs make their CD debut in this two-fer reissue from Collectables. Most of 1981's ...And Then He Kissed Me was produced by Rick Chertoff, who fitted Sweet out in epic-scale arrangements with a decided Springsteen and Spector influence, but Sweet's big, passionate vocal style was more than up to the challenge, and the first two tracks, "Shadows of the Night" and "Then He Kissed Me/Be My Baby," walk a fine line between the spectacular and the bombastic, with Sweet's dead-on delivery nudging them into to the former territory. The rest of the album is uneven, with Sweet not always getting the material she deserves, and you have to wonder how she got stuck with Rex Smith as a duet partner on "Everlasting Love." But the best moments of ...And Then He Kissed Me show just how great a rock singer Sweet could be when given the right backing. Released in 1982, Blame It on Love is Sweet's weakest album, and unfortunately it seems she carries a large share of the blame -- she wrote or co-wrote all the songs and produced the sessions herself in collaboration with Marc Blatte and Larry Gottlieb. Sweet seemed to be reaching for a sexier, poppier image on Blame It on Love, and she looks luscious on the cover, but the album is short on the tough, spunky rock that was her strongest suit, and though she's in solid voice throughout, for every song like "Paralyzed" and "American Girl" that fits her personality like a glove, there's a couple like "Cool Heart" and "Sticks and Stones" that fall flat. (It's worth noting Sweet wrote and produced "Paralyzed" and "American Girl" by her lonesome, which might suggest she didn't have as much autonomy on the rest of the album as the credits suggest.) Fans will be happy to see the latter half of Rachel Sweet's recording career has finally arrived in digital format at last, though a two-fer of Fool Around and Protect the Innocent would be even better (though the bulk of those two albums is collected on B.A.B.Y.: The Best of Rachel Sweet).

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