Rachel Sweet

...And Then He Kissed Me

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Rachel Sweet's third album opens with D.L. Byron's "Shadows of the Night," and though Pat Benatar put it on the charts the next year in a glorious overdrive worthy of Jim Steinman, here it's scaled back just a notch, with the lovers' mutual pledge, their sacrifices to each other, even as the majestic chords come ringing out. Paired now with producers Rick Chertoff and Pete Solly, Sweet keeps her huge voice and her hell-bent-for-leather energy with plenty of nods to Phil Spector's masterpieces, but the '60s joie de vivre proves simpatico with '80s creeping synths and anthemic guitar solos. The nervous "Little Darlin," borrowed from Spider's debut, makes a second-side highlight, but two of the strongest tracks emerge from Sweet's own pen at the end of the first side: "Billy and the Gun," a quiet, cinematic crisis wound tight like piano wire, and "Party Girl," a curiously passionate argument against physical passion ("Don't let him know you save it all for rock & roll" is dispensed like spiritual advice from a big sister). The big hit, "Everlasting Love," sticks in your head even if Sweet's duet partner, Rex Smith, sounds like he stepped out of a Pepsodent commercial, but it's the less-conventional material that'll bring this one down off the shelf.

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