Valerie Carter

Wild Child

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Wild Child, Valerie Carter's 1978 follow-up to her debut Just a Stone Throw's Away, was clearly designed to broaden whatever audience she may have had gained in the prior year. Really, she didn't make that big of an impact in 1978 -- the debut peaked at 1982 and spent five weeks on the chart without generating a single hit -- but it was enough to hold out the possibility that she could go further. So James Newton Howard signed on as the producer, bringing in top-flight studio musicians like Jeffrey Porcaro and Jay Graydon to perform a set of songs from various sources -- ranging from songs Carter co-wrote with Newton Howard to covers of Andy Fairweather Low and Eugene Record. The result was a pleasant soft-rock affair with light disco touches and jazzy flourishes, but it failed to even chart and Carter soon disappeared from sight. In hindsight, it's not a huge surprise since Wild Child is hardly a lost gem and nothing on the record sounds remotely like a hit. They all could have been played on radio, sure, with their smooth productions and endearingly laid-back vibe, but there's not many hooks and Carter isn't an especially charismatic vocalist, no matter how professional and, well, pleasant she may be. As it turns out, Wild Child isn't wild, it's a period piece that has its moments for aficionados of the era ("Lady in the Dark" is especially good, with its harder-rocking edge), but it never transcends its time, except for the most hardcore soft-rock collectors.

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