Joan Armatrading – The Key (1983/2021)
FLAC (tracks) 24bit/96kHz | Time – 38:51 minutes | 785 MB | Genre: Folk
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download | Front Cover | © A&M
The Key is the eighth studio album by the British singer-songwriter Joan Armatrading, released on 28 February 1983 by A&M Records (AMLX64912). The album was recorded at Townhouse Studios in Shepherd’s Bush, London; Polar Studios in Stockholm and also in New York.
The album spawned the single “Drop the Pilot”, which became one of Armatrading’s biggest hits, reaching number 11 in the UK Singles Chart over a 10-week stay. It also quickly became a staple of Armatrading’s live performances and has featured on many of her compilation albums. Armatrading and her backing band also performed the song on Top of the Pops in early 1983.
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
1. Joan Armatrading – (I Love It When You) Call Me Names
2. Joan Armatrading – Foolish Pride
3. Joan Armatrading – Drop The Pilot
4. Joan Armatrading – The Key
5. Joan Armatrading – Everybody Gotta Know
6. Joan Armatrading – Tell Tale
7. Joan Armatrading – What Do Boys Dream?
8. Joan Armatrading – The Game Of Love
9. Joan Armatrading – The Dealer
10. Joan Armatrading – Bad Habits
11. Joan Armatrading – I Love My Baby