Picks and Pans Review: Too Tough

updated 03/28/1983 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/28/1983 AT 01:00 AM EST

Angela Bofill

It's probably an illustration of some unhappy principle of pop culture that Bofill seems to be commercially successful with her most inexpressive, least sensitive material. The title tune from this album—a sterile, strident, semi-shrieky post-disco overproduction by Narada Michael Walden and Jeffrey Cohen—is an illustration, drowning out all Bofill's nuances. It is, of course, a hit single. Meanwhile the same album contains three gentle, affecting original Bofill songs, touchingly rendered: Song for a Rainy Day, Rainbow Inside My Heart and Accept Me (I'm Not a Girl Anymore). There's also a gutsy version of the old Aretha Franklin hit Ain't Nothin 'Like the Real Thing, here as a duet with Boz Scaggs, that is full of texture and feeling. Its energy makes Too Tough seem artificial and synthesized, as indeed it is, thanks to Walden's synthesizers. Bofill's voice is sure and exact but not on the powerful side; she needs room to work. When she gets it, her music shows the delicacy and elegance of Diana Ross at her best.

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