Welsh singer Bonnie Tyler made her name with a handful of grandiose, bombastic pop hits produced by Svengali-like producer Jim Steinman; though in the late 1970s her single “It’s A Heartache” brought her to the world’s attention, later singles “Total Eclipse Of The Heart” and “Holding Out For A Hero” would become ubiquitous 1980s hits that still regularly make daily radio playlists. But in the reductive nature of radio programming, careers get boiled down to one or two songs, making it easy to forget about an artist’s vast career. Remixes & Rarities is the latest chapter in Cherry Pop’s ongoing series of rarities collections from established artists,
Though she’s steadily released music for the past four decades, the focus on this two-disc set is the 1980s, with a handful of songs from the early 1990s, and many of these numbers are single versions of much more epic numbers, as in “Rebel Without A Clue (Excerpt From…)” which cuts the album version down by five minutes into a cool, succinct rocker, while “God Gave Love To You,” “No Way To Treat A Lady” and “Where Were You” hone down overwrought, slightly overproduced songs into something more palpable. Such was a regular critique of both Steinman’s production style; it’s hard to find a record he produced that didn’t stretch songs out a bit longer than necessary.
Not that every song suffered for being epic; if anything, the advent of the twelve inch single allowed artists the ability to stretch out their songs and not confine the energy and pace to the four minute seven inch single side. Unfortunately, some of these remixes suffer that common remix fate, wherein remixers would merely insert passages to extend the song; thus, the extra horns and gospel singers in “Holding Out For A Hero” sound forced and unnatural, while the drum machines of “Band Of Gold” simply don’t do anything but force the song to go on four minutes longer than it should.
But it’s the less familiar songs that fare best here. Her 1992 hit, “The Desert Is In Your Heart,” is a duet with Greek singer Sofia Arvaniti, and was a smash hit in Greece, but few outside of the country have heard it, and it’s one of the rarest releases in her collection. “Sayonara Tokyo” is a gentle ballad that appeared on a Japanese-only single and greatest hits package. “Say Goodbye,” taken from the soundtrack to the surreal 1994 animated film Asterix in Amerika, appears here in a special version with her accompanied by a full orchestra, and it’s a potent, powerful ballad. “Sem Limites Pra Sonhar (Reaching for The Infinite Heart)” is a duet with Brazillian pop singer Fábio Jr., and her English verses contrast nicely with his own exotic language, while “Matter Of The Heart,” taken from the 1986 soundtrack to The Wraith, is a hard rocker that feels like a missed opportunity for a great chart hit.
Bonnie Tyler is still performing and occasionally releases new material, but she will be forever known for her smash hits. Remixes & Rarities shows that her catalog contains plenty of songs of equal quality, and that she was much more than the three songs people know her for. It’s always a testament to an artist’s talent when they can release a two-disc collection and the hit songs are not the highlight of the set.
Bonnie Tyler: Remixes & Rarities is available now from Cherry Pop.
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