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Rock - Verschenen op 18 juni 2021 | BMG Rights Management (UK) Ltd

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R&B - Verschenen op 1 april 2003 | A&M

This is the way a Joan Armatrading best-of collection should be assembled in the first place. The numerous single-disc compilations never came close to being representative of her achievement as a recording artist. Culling 43 tracks over eight years and 11 albums is even better in many ways than issuing an Armatrading box set. All of the expected material from the early years is included on disc one, such as "Cool Blue Stole My Heart," "Travel So Far," "Dry Land," "Down to Zero," "Love and Affection," "Help Yourself," "Woncha Come on Home," "Show Some Emotion," "Willow," "Barefoot and Pregnant," "Bottom to the Top," "You Rope You Tie Me," "Your Letter," and many more, including "The Flight of the Wild Geese" from the soundtrack to the film. It covers Armatrading's prolific period from 1975-1979, where a lot of old hippies, now upwardly mobile professionals seeking mellow escapes from their relentless and often ruthless pursuit of "the good life," got off the bus and remained stuck, listening only to her early records along with those of the Jacksons, Eagles, and James Taylor. The only problem with this is that Armatrading was just beginning to gain a confidence that led her to become really adventurous, taking huge chances with both her songwriting and production styles in the 1980s. She became a pop singer whose lyrics were anything but pop and whose music expanded the boundaries of pop to include reggae, jazz, and slippery folk music. Admittedly, the results were sometimes erratic, but were never, never less than utterly compelling. Disc two features all four tracks from the excellent How Cruel EP, including the reggae soul-drenched bluster of "Rosie," the title track, and "He Wants Her," with its dubbed-out drums and snaky guitar slinking through her sensual vocal. Eight cuts from the Me Myself I album represent the vast majority of it; it also marked Armatrading's first true rock & roll outing. She had heard the late-'70s music from England and Jamaica -- as well as the Lower East Side of New York -- and was affected by it. She didn't try to make punk rock or new wave music, but she let its freedom enter her songwriting consciousness and open it up. As she hung out with producers like Richard Gotteher (Robert Gordon, Mink DeVille, and Lou Reed) and Henry Lewy, rock and roll became Armatrading's chosen vehicle of expression. By the time she made her bravest recordings, Walk Under Ladders in 1981, The Key in 1983, and Track Record with Steve Lillywhite (U2, Ultravox, Psychedelic Furs, etc.) in 1983, the English audiences went crazy while the Americanskis walked away almost entirely. Armatrading's songs had turned dark and grew tenser with the times, dealing with themes of emotional and physical abuse, vulnerability that is not necessarily willful, but is welcomed in a first-person way. They made folks who wore designer clothes, drove BMWs, and spouted "liberal" causes feel queasy -- one listen to "The Weakness in Me," "I Really Must Be Going," or the infamous "(I Love It When You) Call Me Names" made the yuppies flee in droves. The final two tracks, "Frustration" and "Heaven," are awesome. The former is post-rock and downright right funky with its collapsible backbeat. She took South African township jive, mixed it with greasy fretless basslines and celebratory melodic schematics, and juxtaposed it against tough lyrics of street life and cultural suffocation. "Heaven" is, in a sense, a small nod back to where Armatrading had come from, asking a wider and darker series of the questions she was asking on her earlier records, but its twists and turns make it as much a spiritual love song as a secular one. For Armatrading, need, love, obsession, sensuality, and excess had all become inseparable from one another in her songwriting; along with the pumped-up rock aesthetic, it made her music downright dangerous. She dared to proclaim her darkness without regretful confession or repentance. She dared to make anthems out of raw need and insecurity, and made the tension between lovers something truly sensual. As an artist, Armatrading never sought to find innocence; her vision as an artist has always been expansive, and she took on race and class issues in her songs via amorous relationships, daring both parties to step out of their fear. These songs tell stories so intimate and so encompassing it's no wonder most that people don't get them; they can't even imagine what addressing that fear would be like, let alone have somebody do it in wondrous pop songs you can hum to. Necessary, explosive, and brilliant, listen and behold the songs of a sage whose wisdom is from the school of hard knocks and transcendent courage, and whose musical sophistication is second to none. This is the only Joan Armatrading collection worth owning. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Pop - Verschenen op 1 september 1976 | A&M

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Joan Armatrading's eponymous third album is a charmer, almost single-handedly elevating her into the ranks of rock's leading female artists. Up to this point, Armatrading had shown that she had a lovely voice and an ear for interesting arrangements, but her work had been steeped in the folk idiom of the early '70s. Her third album changed all that, with producer Glyn Johns bringing in members of Gallagher & Lyle, Fairport Convention, and the Faces to punch up her folksy sound with elements of rock, country, and disco. The result is her most muscular music to date, with Armatrading adopting a swagger that showed her tales of unluckiness in love didn't have to have dire consequences ("Tall in the Saddle," "Water With the Wine"). Of course, it helped that the record featured her best material delivered in a wonderfully expressive voice that can capture the shades between song and speech like a sweeter version of Ian Anderson. "Down to Zero" (which features pedal steel guitarist B.J. Cole) and "Love and Affection" are the album's most memorable tracks, the latter breaking into the U.K.'s Top Ten (the album itself made the U.K. Top 20). But what endears this record to fans is the quality of each song; it wouldn't be fair to call anything here filler. The artsy and eclectic "Like Fire," the beautiful ballad "Save Me," and the ingratiating melodies of "Somebody Who Loves You" are just as likely to strike a chord with listeners as the better-known cuts. While Glyn Johns deserves credit for bringing Joan Armatrading's songs into a more flattering setting -- it's not coincidental that the record feels like a polished version of The Who by Numbers -- his real stroke of genius was letting the artist flower to her full potential. For many, this album remains the high point in her catalog. © Dave Connolly /TiVo
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Pop - Verschenen op 1 september 1976 | EMI

Joan Armatrading's eponymous third album is a charmer, almost single-handedly elevating her into the ranks of rock's leading female artists. Up to this point, Armatrading had shown that she had a lovely voice and an ear for interesting arrangements, but her work had been steeped in the folk idiom of the early '70s. Her third album changed all that, with producer Glyn Johns bringing in members of Gallagher & Lyle, Fairport Convention, and the Faces to punch up her folksy sound with elements of rock, country, and disco. The result is her most muscular music to date, with Armatrading adopting a swagger that showed her tales of unluckiness in love didn't have to have dire consequences ("Tall in the Saddle," "Water With the Wine"). Of course, it helped that the record featured her best material delivered in a wonderfully expressive voice that can capture the shades between song and speech like a sweeter version of Ian Anderson. "Down to Zero" (which features pedal steel guitarist B.J. Cole) and "Love and Affection" are the album's most memorable tracks, the latter breaking into the U.K.'s Top Ten (the album itself made the U.K. Top 20). But what endears this record to fans is the quality of each song; it wouldn't be fair to call anything here filler. The artsy and eclectic "Like Fire," the beautiful ballad "Save Me," and the ingratiating melodies of "Somebody Who Loves You" are just as likely to strike a chord with listeners as the better-known cuts. While Glyn Johns deserves credit for bringing Joan Armatrading's songs into a more flattering setting -- it's not coincidental that the record feels like a polished version of The Who by Numbers -- his real stroke of genius was letting the artist flower to her full potential. For many, this album remains the high point in her catalog. © Dave Connolly /TiVo
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Pop - Verschenen op 1 september 1976 | A&M

Joan Armatrading's eponymous third album is a charmer, almost single-handedly elevating her into the ranks of rock's leading female artists. Up to this point, Armatrading had shown that she had a lovely voice and an ear for interesting arrangements, but her work had been steeped in the folk idiom of the early '70s. Her third album changed all that, with producer Glyn Johns bringing in members of Gallagher & Lyle, Fairport Convention, and the Faces to punch up her folksy sound with elements of rock, country, and disco. The result is her most muscular music to date, with Armatrading adopting a swagger that showed her tales of unluckiness in love didn't have to have dire consequences ("Tall in the Saddle," "Water With the Wine"). Of course, it helped that the record featured her best material delivered in a wonderfully expressive voice that can capture the shades between song and speech like a sweeter version of Ian Anderson. "Down to Zero" (which features pedal steel guitarist B.J. Cole) and "Love and Affection" are the album's most memorable tracks, the latter breaking into the U.K.'s Top Ten (the album itself made the U.K. Top 20). But what endears this record to fans is the quality of each song; it wouldn't be fair to call anything here filler. The artsy and eclectic "Like Fire," the beautiful ballad "Save Me," and the ingratiating melodies of "Somebody Who Loves You" are just as likely to strike a chord with listeners as the better-known cuts. While Glyn Johns deserves credit for bringing Joan Armatrading's songs into a more flattering setting -- it's not coincidental that the record feels like a polished version of The Who by Numbers -- his real stroke of genius was letting the artist flower to her full potential. For many, this album remains the high point in her catalog. © Dave Connolly /TiVo
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Pop - Verschenen op 1 mei 1980 | A&M

On the trio of albums that made her reputation in 1976-1978, Joan Armatrading, Show Some Emotion, and To the Limit, Armatrading relied on the pristine production of Glyn Johns to underscore the sensitivity of her folk-based confessional songs. Here, on her first full-length album in two years, she turned to rock producer Richard Gottehrer and a session band that included Anton Fig, Chris Spedding, and members of the E Street Band, making her case for being a mainstream rocker. The songs were less serious, too, notably the title track, a U.K. hit. (The album's other British chart single was the ballad "All the Way from America," which was more in the style of her earlier work.) The result was the best-selling album Armatrading has ever had in either the U.S. or U.K. © William Ruhlmann /TiVo
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Pop - Verschenen op 1 maart 1983 | A&M

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Many of the same musicians from Walk Under Ladders return for The Key, but gone are that album's warm island airs. Instead, producer Steve Lillywhite wraps -- some might say smothers -- Armatrading's voice in sophisticated synthesizers (courtesy of Larry Fast) and punchy rock arrangements that are enervating but less inviting than her earlier work. That more aggressive sound didn't come at the cost of commercial success, however, and both "(I Love It When You) Call Me Names" and "Drop the Pilot" (the latter produced by Val Garay) helped push The Key into the U.S. Top 40. Armatrading has always been an excellent communicator, and when given the spotlight -- as on the otherworldly "I Love My Baby" or the sinister "The Dealer" -- she is one of rock's more compelling female artists. Yet the decision to bring Tony Levin's bass up in the mix and find time for Adrian Belew's frenetic solos sells Armatrading's estimable talents short on some tracks. Thankfully, her humor and humanity rise above the arrangements at welcome intervals, notably with "Everybody Gotta Know," "What Do Boys Dream," and "Foolish Pride." Fans of her acoustic music may find The Key a little too aggressive for their tastes, but anyone open to modern rock should enjoy this album. © Dave Connolly /TiVo
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Blues - Verschenen op 1 mei 2007 | Savoy

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Pop - Verschenen op 1 oktober 1977 | A&M

Retaining producer Glyn Johns and some of the same session players from her last record, Show Some Emotion repeated that album's chart success and included two more terrific singles in the same vein: "Show Some Emotion" and "Willow." However, the rest of the album sounds like outtakes from that effort. Gone is the smooth, honeyfied flow of Joan Armatrading; the lyrics seem to lack a sense of meter, the songs occasionally rely on pedestrian R&B arrangements to move them along, and the buoyant melodies are few and far between. Part of the problem stems from poor track placement; the vulnerable "Woncha Come on Home," which would have worked well at the end of side one or two, is an awful choice as the opening track. Placing the similar-sounding "Mama Mercy" and "Get in the Sun" next to each other suggests that Armatrading even had trouble coming up with filler, and waiting until the end of the album to unleash the energetic "Kissin' and a Huggin'" leaves the listener all charged up for nothing. While the title track and "Willow" are good enough to justify the album purchase alone, they're available on any number of compilations. Without them, Show Some Emotion lacks any must-own material, although the aptly titled "Warm Love," "Kissin' and a Huggin'," and the compelling "Opportunity" are worth hearing. Overall, this feels like a step back after her last effort. The fine voice and smattering of rock, jazz, and island melodies place it as vintage Joan Armatrading, but the material is a cut below her better work. © Dave Connolly /TiVo
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Pop - Verschenen op 1 april 2003 | A&M

This is the way a Joan Armatrading best-of collection should be assembled in the first place. The numerous single-disc compilations never came close to being representative of her achievement as a recording artist. Culling 43 tracks over eight years and 11 albums is even better in many ways than issuing an Armatrading box set. All of the expected material from the early years is included on disc one, such as "Cool Blue Stole My Heart," "Travel So Far," "Dry Land," "Down to Zero," "Love and Affection," "Help Yourself," "Woncha Come on Home," "Show Some Emotion," "Willow," "Barefoot and Pregnant," "Bottom to the Top," "You Rope You Tie Me," "Your Letter," and many more, including "The Flight of the Wild Geese" from the soundtrack to the film. It covers Armatrading's prolific period from 1975-1979, where a lot of old hippies, now upwardly mobile professionals seeking mellow escapes from their relentless and often ruthless pursuit of "the good life," got off the bus and remained stuck, listening only to her early records along with those of the Jacksons, Eagles, and James Taylor. The only problem with this is that Armatrading was just beginning to gain a confidence that led her to become really adventurous, taking huge chances with both her songwriting and production styles in the 1980s. She became a pop singer whose lyrics were anything but pop and whose music expanded the boundaries of pop to include reggae, jazz, and slippery folk music. Admittedly, the results were sometimes erratic, but were never, never less than utterly compelling. Disc two features all four tracks from the excellent How Cruel EP, including the reggae soul-drenched bluster of "Rosie," the title track, and "He Wants Her," with its dubbed-out drums and snaky guitar slinking through her sensual vocal. Eight cuts from the Me Myself I album represent the vast majority of it; it also marked Armatrading's first true rock & roll outing. She had heard the late-'70s music from England and Jamaica -- as well as the Lower East Side of New York -- and was affected by it. She didn't try to make punk rock or new wave music, but she let its freedom enter her songwriting consciousness and open it up. As she hung out with producers like Richard Gotteher (Robert Gordon, Mink DeVille, and Lou Reed) and Henry Lewy, rock and roll became Armatrading's chosen vehicle of expression. By the time she made her bravest recordings, Walk Under Ladders in 1981, The Key in 1983, and Track Record with Steve Lillywhite (U2, Ultravox, Psychedelic Furs, etc.) in 1983, the English audiences went crazy while the Americanskis walked away almost entirely. Armatrading's songs had turned dark and grew tenser with the times, dealing with themes of emotional and physical abuse, vulnerability that is not necessarily willful, but is welcomed in a first-person way. They made folks who wore designer clothes, drove BMWs, and spouted "liberal" causes feel queasy -- one listen to "The Weakness in Me," "I Really Must Be Going," or the infamous "(I Love It When You) Call Me Names" made the yuppies flee in droves. The final two tracks, "Frustration" and "Heaven," are awesome. The former is post-rock and downright right funky with its collapsible backbeat. She took South African township jive, mixed it with greasy fretless basslines and celebratory melodic schematics, and juxtaposed it against tough lyrics of street life and cultural suffocation. "Heaven" is, in a sense, a small nod back to where Armatrading had come from, asking a wider and darker series of the questions she was asking on her earlier records, but its twists and turns make it as much a spiritual love song as a secular one. For Armatrading, need, love, obsession, sensuality, and excess had all become inseparable from one another in her songwriting; along with the pumped-up rock aesthetic, it made her music downright dangerous. She dared to proclaim her darkness without regretful confession or repentance. She dared to make anthems out of raw need and insecurity, and made the tension between lovers something truly sensual. As an artist, Armatrading never sought to find innocence; her vision as an artist has always been expansive, and she took on race and class issues in her songs via amorous relationships, daring both parties to step out of their fear. These songs tell stories so intimate and so encompassing it's no wonder most that people don't get them; they can't even imagine what addressing that fear would be like, let alone have somebody do it in wondrous pop songs you can hum to. Necessary, explosive, and brilliant, listen and behold the songs of a sage whose wisdom is from the school of hard knocks and transcendent courage, and whose musical sophistication is second to none. This is the only Joan Armatrading collection worth owning. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Pop - Verschenen op 11 mei 2018 | BMG Rights Management (UK) Limited

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Folk - Verschenen op 1 oktober 1978 | A&M

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To the Limit is a more fitting follow-up to the self-titled Joan Armatrading, as it returns to that album's catchy melodies and fully fleshed-out arrangements. Again, the backing band is almost entirely new to Armatrading, retaining only the rhythm section of Dave Markee and Henry Spinetti from past efforts, but instead of sounding tentative, the band infuses the material with bright and natural music. Although the record doesn't contain any hits -- "Barefoot and Pregnant" and "Bottom to the Top" were the singles -- it doesn't suffer from the dips in mood and quality that made Show Some Emotion less than satisfying. Nothing on To the Limit is obvious filler, and the intelligent track placement -- alternating ballads and rockers -- gives the songs a chance to develop their own identities. Picking the best tracks on this album is sure to be a matter of taste; fans of Armatrading's ballads will enjoy "Your Letter" and "Baby I," those enamored of her island melodies will find them on "Barefoot and Pregnant" and the reggae-styled "Bottom to the Top," and anyone looking for crossovers into blues and jazz can turn to "Am I Blue for You" and "You Rope You Tie Me." The only knock on this album is that it lacks a real standout song like a "Willow" or "Love and Affection" -- nothing on To the Limit is great, but nearly everything is good. One could make a case for something as contagiously catchy as "Taking My Baby up Town," but even that falls shy of her most enduring singles. For this reason, To the Limit is rarely represented come compilation time. Ironically, it's one of her better albums, a good bet for fans who enjoyed her eponymous effort and aren't ready to jump into the rock sound of subsequent albums. © Dave Connolly /TiVo
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Rock - Verschenen op 10 oktober 1995 | Savoy

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Folk - Verschenen op 1 oktober 1978 | A&M

To the Limit is a more fitting follow-up to the self-titled Joan Armatrading, as it returns to that album's catchy melodies and fully fleshed-out arrangements. Again, the backing band is almost entirely new to Armatrading, retaining only the rhythm section of Dave Markee and Henry Spinetti from past efforts, but instead of sounding tentative, the band infuses the material with bright and natural music. Although the record doesn't contain any hits -- "Barefoot and Pregnant" and "Bottom to the Top" were the singles -- it doesn't suffer from the dips in mood and quality that made Show Some Emotion less than satisfying. Nothing on To the Limit is obvious filler, and the intelligent track placement -- alternating ballads and rockers -- gives the songs a chance to develop their own identities. Picking the best tracks on this album is sure to be a matter of taste; fans of Armatrading's ballads will enjoy "Your Letter" and "Baby I," those enamored of her island melodies will find them on "Barefoot and Pregnant" and the reggae-styled "Bottom to the Top," and anyone looking for crossovers into blues and jazz can turn to "Am I Blue for You" and "You Rope You Tie Me." The only knock on this album is that it lacks a real standout song like a "Willow" or "Love and Affection" -- nothing on To the Limit is great, but nearly everything is good. One could make a case for something as contagiously catchy as "Taking My Baby up Town," but even that falls shy of her most enduring singles. For this reason, To the Limit is rarely represented come compilation time. Ironically, it's one of her better albums, a good bet for fans who enjoyed her eponymous effort and aren't ready to jump into the rock sound of subsequent albums. © Dave Connolly /TiVo
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Pop - Verschenen op 1 november 1972 | Fly Records

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Pop - Verschenen op 1 januari 1983 | A&M

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Pop - Verschenen op 1 oktober 1977 | A&M

Retaining producer Glyn Johns and some of the same session players from her last record, Show Some Emotion repeated that album's chart success and included two more terrific singles in the same vein: "Show Some Emotion" and "Willow." However, the rest of the album sounds like outtakes from that effort. Gone is the smooth, honeyfied flow of Joan Armatrading; the lyrics seem to lack a sense of meter, the songs occasionally rely on pedestrian R&B arrangements to move them along, and the buoyant melodies are few and far between. Part of the problem stems from poor track placement; the vulnerable "Woncha Come on Home," which would have worked well at the end of side one or two, is an awful choice as the opening track. Placing the similar-sounding "Mama Mercy" and "Get in the Sun" next to each other suggests that Armatrading even had trouble coming up with filler, and waiting until the end of the album to unleash the energetic "Kissin' and a Huggin'" leaves the listener all charged up for nothing. While the title track and "Willow" are good enough to justify the album purchase alone, they're available on any number of compilations. Without them, Show Some Emotion lacks any must-own material, although the aptly titled "Warm Love," "Kissin' and a Huggin'," and the compelling "Opportunity" are worth hearing. Overall, this feels like a step back after her last effort. The fine voice and smattering of rock, jazz, and island melodies place it as vintage Joan Armatrading, but the material is a cut below her better work. © Dave Connolly /TiVo
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Rock - Verschenen op 25 maart 2003 | Savoy

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Blues - Verschenen op 22 februari 2011 | Savoy