Not totally unique, Secret Dreams & Forbidden Fire nevertheless depicts a cool portrait of '80s pomposity. Producer/director Jim Steinman always kicks his records off in style, and the breathtaking, go-for-Baroque "Ravishing" is no exception. Building to "Livin' la Vida Loca," Desmond Child's songwriting ascent continues with "If You Were a Woman," which morphed into "You Give Love a Bad Name" for a certain Bon Jovi big shot. No having a cranium-blasting "Faster Than the Speed of Night" or chart-busting "Total Eclipse of the Heart" immediately makes Secret Dreams & Forbidden Fire substandard to the 1983 Steinman/Tyler collaboration. This power-keg feels a bit sleeker and more streamlined: a fighter plane instead of a luxury jumbo. The ubiquitous Footloose soundtrack showcased colossal closer "Holding Out for a Hero," so even that ditty doesn't prop this platter. Todd Rundgren (another member of this bizarre clique) joins his distinctively plain voice to Tyler's for a deranged duet on "Loving You's a Dirty Job but Somebody's Gotta Do It" (not the Ratt killer). "No Way to Treat a Lady" follows "Straight From the Heart" as an attempted Bryan Adams interpretation. Too much ado piled on top of the glittering "Band of Gold" almost breaks the back of a very sturdy song. Naturally the unsubtle Steinman production boasts an excess of everything, but somehow this secret dream needs a bit more fire. Not a bad pickup from the delete bins though.
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AllMusic Review by Doug Stone