Rockin’ Review: Pat Benatar, ‘Crimes of Passion’

The Rockin’ Review series continues with another 1980 standout. Coming out of the gate swinging with ‘In the Heat of the Night’ a year earlier, Pat Benatar’s career was set to take off with arguably the biggest album that she would ever release — ‘Crimes of Passion.’

The History: In early 1980, Pat Benatar and her band, led by her future husband, guitarist Neil Giraldo, hit the studio in Van Nuys, Calif., recording with producer Keith Olsen at the now famous Sound City. Still holding strong at radio with “Heartbreaker” and “We Live For Love” off of her previous effort, they wasted no time turning around a new disc and pouncing while her star was still rising. The disc arrived in August of 1980, with Benatar holding the No. 2 spot with ‘Crimes of Passion’ for five weeks. The disc was certified four-times platinum and led to her first Grammy for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance for her work on the album as a whole.

The Song(s) You Know: The forceful but infectious beat of “You Better Run” led the way for Benatar. The song, a cover originally done by The Young Rascals, was not a major hit, peaking just outside the Top 40 on the Billboard 100 chart, but it remained a staple in her sets and the video holds the distinction of being the second clip ever played on MTV. She had more success with the album’s second single, “Hit Me With Your Best Shot,” which became one of her most recognizable songs. The attitude-filled rocker was gold certified and reached the No. 9 spot on the Billboard 100. The third single, “Treat Me Right,” opened the album. The anthemic rocker was used in the film An Officer and a Gentleman and peaked at No. 18.

The Song(s) You Should Know: Though not technically a single, “Hell Is For Children” remained a concert favorite for years. This song, inspired after Benatar read stories about child abuse in the New York Times, is a tough-minded and powerful track. ‘Crimes of Passion” also included an inspired cover of Kate Bush’s “Wuthering Heights.”

The Conclusion: ‘Crimes of Passion’ is the biggest selling album of Benatar’s career, but is a bit top-heavy with all of the singles in the upper portion of the album. Though the “Wuthering Heights” cover is a side two standout, the back half pales in comparison to the opening. Still, the album, blessed with a clear and defined take no prisoners vision, was solid enough to win a Grammy.

Pick up Pat Benatar’s ‘Crimes of Passion’ album here.

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