This typically ambitious 1964 outing found Gene Pitney blending rock drama and pop smoothness with great success. I'm Gonna Be Strong is an especially worthwhile entry in the Pitney canon because it includes several great performances. Good examples include the title track, a typically intense Pitney heartbreak ballad that builds from quiet anguish to a dramatic declaration of self-reliance over a lush yet punchy instrumental backing, and "It Hurts to Be in Love," a tune that finds Pitney layering a dynamic, double-tracked vocal over a song that cleverly contrasts heartbroken lyrics with a bouncy, hook-laden keyboard pop melody. Other memorable tracks on I'm Gonna Be Strong include "Lips Were Redder on You," a lovelorn track penned by oddball pop auteur Joe Meek that is driven by a percolating keyboard hook, and "That Girl Belongs to Yesterday," an operatic pop ballad full of low brass and descending piano runs that was penned by Keith Richards and Mick Jagger. Even the album tracks are memorable: "The Last Two People on Earth" an odd tune that uses the end of the world as the backdrop for a romantic pop song, and "Who Needs It," an interesting track that contrasts anti-romantic lyrical sentiments with a bouncy, upbeat melody. I'm Gonna Be Strong is also notable for "E Se Domani," the first song that Pitney recorded in the Italian language (this effort led to Pitney later recording a few albums in this vein for the Italian pop market). All in all, I'm Gonna Be Strong effectively balances its intriguingly diverse batch of songs with a consistent style that makes them flow together smoothly and this makes it one of Gene Pitney's strongest albums.
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AllMusic Review by Donald A. Guarisco