Private Dancer is a really solid album. A great listen all the way through. It’s quintessential 80s soul, full of well crafted synthy-soul-rock originals like super hits “Private Dancer”, “You Better Be Good to Me”, and “What’s Love Got to Do With It”. Injected in the mix are great covers like “I Can’t Stand the Rain”, “Let’s Stay Together”, and the stand out slow burning version of “Help!” (a wonderful surprise to this unlearned Tina listener). Perhaps the only slight misstep is “1984”. A dystopian nightmare that sounds like it should be on Broadway. It’s a bananas way to end an album, but I have to acknowledge its unabashed enthusiasm. “Who could ask for more?”
Dummy has got a lot of that halloweeny sound you hear on a lot of 90s hip hop (e.g. Snoop’s Doggy Style). The foundation of the album is a deep scary groove that gets my body moving, but I remain a little distant just to protect myself from what feels like an impending doom. Wanting only to observe the super cool world of Portishead and not live in it. Songs like “Sour Times”, “Wandering Star”, and “Numb” have got a soulful driving trip-hop vibe that is easy to latch onto. The last song on Dummy, “Glory Box”, is an alt-rock stand out. It’s a killer. However, songs, like “Roads” are just a little to dreary for me.
Both voices are powerful and work perfectly for their backing music. Tina’s is well seasoned and confident, Beth Gibbons of Portishead is understated occasionally exploding with well timed moments of power. Private Dancer and Dummy are well deserved titans of their decade. Overall, I am gonna give this one to Tina’s Private Dancer because it just hits that generational sweet spot a little better than Dummy.
WINNER: Tina Turner, Private Dancer (1 point)
Next week’s battle – #46: Peter Gabriel, Peter Gabriel (1980) vs. Jay-Z, Volume 2…Hard Knock Life (1998)