Fiona Flanagan’s debut album is pretty typical 80s female fronted AOR that hasn’t really stood the test of time that well. It can be pretty accurately dated within the first ten seconds. Something that can be said of many albums of this kind.Revisiting the album for the first time in many a long year I was initially surprised how many of the songs came back to me quickly. Sadly though most of them don’t really go anywhere beyond the hook.The limitations of Fiona’s voice are all too apparent in places with a tendency to be over aggressive which gets a little shouty especialy on ‘Rescue You’.The album does have its moments though. The opening track ‘Hang Your Heart On Me’ is faintly reminiscent of Ann Wilson whilst the track ‘James’ would not be out of place on a Lita Ford album.
The closing ‘Na Na Song’ despite its silly title is one of the better tracks but the stand out is ‘Talk To Me’ with its great frenzied sax.
Beyond The Pale (1986)
The second album from Fiona Flanagan was, like her debut offering, very 80s big production soft rock albeit with slightly more pop pretentions.To these ears it is slightly inferior to the first album despite getting off to a fine start with the opening track ‘Tragedy’ which features Kip Winger on backing vocals.My vinyl copy is adorned with a sticker stating ‘Includes Living In A Boy’s World and Hopelessly Love You’ presumably they were expected to make some impact in the singles market. To me though they are two of the weaker tracks. Particularly ‘Living In A Boy’s World’ which has a terrible introduction during which you can almost hear two takes being spliced together.The other track of note is ‘You Better Wait’. Alas the rest of the album is pretty standard listen every ten years type of stuff. The material is not particularly strong and even guest performances from the likes of Nile Rodgers and Kip Winger can’t save it from 80s AOR mediocrity.
Heart Like A Gun (1989)
Fiona Flanagans’ third album ‘Heart Like A Gun’ is a little heavier on the guitar than its two predecessors but is still very much ‘FM radio of the eighties fodder’.The opening track ‘Little Jeannie’ is clearly the standout track and the duet with Kip Winger ‘Everything You Do’ is also one of the highlights. This really doesn’t help some of the sub standard offerings that follow though. ‘Where Do Cowboys Go’ just turns into a heavy mush and ‘Mariel’ shows her limitations as a vocalist. ‘Draw The Line’ does little to improve matters.Things perk up a little in the middle section of side two. Although the uninspiring ‘Here It Comes Again’ doesn’t start things off particularly well ‘Bringing In The Beast’ has a good hook. ‘Victoria Cross’ is a nice track with some good acoustic work and ‘Look At Me Now’ starts off well enough without really raising the level. Album closer ‘When Pink Turns To Blue’ is average at best.In conclusion then it is another slightly disappointing effort which never really gets above ordinary. Flanagan’s vocal style is not perfect and she continually seems to struggle for power which often results in the vocal sounding screechy or weak.
Personally I never ventured beyond this, her third album and if they have been condensed into a ‘best of’ package that may be the best way to appreciate the finer parts.
© Martin Leedham. First published on RYM August 2008
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