Picks and Pans Review: Mad Love

updated 04/14/1980 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 04/14/1980 AT 01:00 AM EST

Linda Ronstadt

Linda could lose her fans in the New Wave with this one. The LP is gritty, lean, her hardest-rocking sound in years. It's all that, and less—even down to the grainy black-and-white cover portrait. (Remember the last album, with its high-gloss cover of Linda in satin jacket, gym shorts and roller boots?) Her voice has a rare power and clarity, no question. But for all the flirting-and-hurting rockers on this LP, Ronstadt seems to be just singing Ronstadt, and not very excitingly. Justine is a drawn-out, irritating flash flood of guitar and keyboard chords; How Do I Make You is a simple-minded rocker with a cheesy late-'50s sound. Hurt So Bad, the disc's tender moment, doesn't approach (for sentiment and believability) Desperado or Heart Like a Wheel. I Can't Let Go does have nice harmonies (with Nicolette Larson, Rosemary Butler and Ronstadt) and guitar chords pleasingly reminiscent of the mid-'60s Beatles. But Elvis Costello's wonderful Girls Talk was covered much better by U.K. rockabilly star Dave Edmunds. With Ronstadt's explosive energy missing, the one memorable fragment is the great Mike Auldridge's ringing dobro fills on Neil Young's Look Out for My Love. New Wave may work as a back-to-basics lure for some superacts. But eloquent, as ultrasophisticate Linda unwittingly proves, it isn't.

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