Pat Benatar – Wide Awake In Dreamland (1988)

FrontCover1.JPGWide Awake in Dreamland is American rock singer Pat Benatar’s seventh studio album, and her eighth album overall, released in 1988. After a string of successful albums, this was her last rock-oriented album of the 1980s, before she would go on to try a blues-based sound with True Love in 1991.

The album’s lead single, “All Fired Up”, peaked at number 19 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 25 on the Cash Box Top 100. It was nominated for a Grammy Award but did not win.

The album was certified Gold by the RIAA and eventually sold approximately 700,000 copies in the United States.

The album was primarily recorded at Neil Giraldo’s studio, with most of the songwriting by Giraldo and longtime drummer Myron Grombacher. Four of the tracks are also co-written with Benatar (who is credited as Pat Giraldo). One of the two songs from other songwriters was “Cerebral Man” written by Tully Winfield and well-known stick player Don Schiff. In an interview from 2002, Schiff recalled how this track was added to the album: “Tully Winfield and I demoed songs at what was becoming a very popular studio in LA (Woodcliff Studio)… we had just recorded “Cerebral Man”. If I recall correctly the demo just had Tully’s voice, stick and drums. Peter Coleman was producing Pat’s next album for Chrysalis and happened to be the next session in and heard the tune. He asked if he could take the song to Pat Benatar and hopefully put it on her next album. Her camp liked it and they did a wonderful job with the song. I thought Tully and I would get a few more songs on that album as they liked the style of our song, but at the last minute she decided to go back to her more familiar rock style, leaving our song the only one stylistically like it on the album.” (by wikipedia)

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Although it falls short of the excellence of Crimes of Passion, Precious Time, and Get Nervous, Wide Awake in Dreamland is a generally decent and respectable effort that has more pluses than minuses. Closer in spirit to Tropico than Passion or Time, the consistently melodic Dreamland stresses pop elements and steers clear of hard rock. The CD’s most memorable offerings include the haunting and moody “Too Long a Soldier,” the infectious “Lift Em on Up,” and a disturbing commentary on child abuse, “Suffer the Little Children.” Unfortunately, Pat Benatar’s popularity was starting to decline in 1988 — and in the early-to-mid-’90s, she would receive little attention. (by Alex Henderson)

Singles

`Wide Awake in Dreamland’ is pretty much Pat Benatar’s best album. Coming three year’s after her 7th, 1985’s rousing pop-rock `Seven the hard way (1985)’, it marked not only the end of a relatively long absence for the artist who had previously put out a record a year since 1979’s debut, `In the Heat of the Night’, but also a surprising maturation in style.

This was her fourth album produced by Peter Coleman and he is joined here by her guitarist/husband Neil Geraldo. After three albums more attuned to pop, `Wide Awake in Dreamland’ predominantly returns her to her original style of rock with attitude – though not quite the hard rock of early discs such as `Crimes of Passion’ and `Precious Time’. This is more nuanced, sophisticated and is massively elevated by the use of male backing vocals, rather than the usual multi-layered recording of the lead singer herself. It sticks to the band’s tried and true formula of rock, ballads and dabblings in genre-hopping – predominantly band-penned tracks mixed in with a smattering of covers and pro-written songs. But it had never come together with quite the panache that it does on this selection.

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Though Neil Geraldo is responsible for co-writing seven of the ten tracks, it is drummer Myron Grombacher’s contribution to his seven (many the same) that seems to boost the impact of the album – not dissimilar to his contribution on `Seven the Hard Way’. It is hard not to think he is behind the variety of rhythms on this record, one of its most intoxicating features. Additionally, unlike her other recordings, there is not even the remotest hint of lyrical awkwardness here.

It begins with the driving rock of `All Fired Up’, followed by the glossy middle of the road synth-heavy `One Love (Song of the Lion)’, which is the closest thing to being out of place on this record. Things pick up again with the heavily percussive and slightly tribal, `Let’s Stay Together’, and the soaring ballad, `Don’t Walk Away’, written by Nick Gilder who was behind `Rated X’ on her first album. The stirring, epic and dramatic anti-war song, `Too Long A Soldier’ follows – one of the very best things the band (Geraldo/ Grombacher) ever wrote and that Benatar ever recorded. Then `Cool Zero’ harks back to some of their new wave rock posturing of the past.

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`Cerebral Man’, by an external writer, is a beautiful, tortured rock ballad with sumptuous, soulful male backing vocals – another brilliant high point. `Lift `Em On Up’ is an infectious, rhythmic, heavily bass-driven rocker which is followed by Benatar’s second anti child abuse song, the heartfelt and haunting `Suffer the Little Children’ (the other being 1980’s `Hell is for Children’). It all closes with the title track, a deceptively simple 4-4 rocker that ends leaving you wanting more.

This is really a very fine adult rock album. If you own nothing else by Pat Benatar, `Wide Awake in Dreamland’ is definitely the one to get. (by B S Marlay)

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Personnel:
Pat Benatar (vocals)
Bo Castro (percussion)
Charles Giordano (keyboards)
Neil Giraldo (guitar)
Myron Grombacher (drums)
Frank Linx (bass, background vocals)
Fernando Saunders (bass)
Kevin Savigar (keyboards)
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Nick Gilder – background vocals on 04. + 06.)
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background vocals on 08:
Carmen Twillie – Phyllis St. James – Maxine Waters

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Tracklist:
01. All Fired Up (Tolhurst 4.32
02. One Love (Giraldo/Grombacher) 5.15
03. Let’s Stay Together (Giraldo/Benatar) 4.59
04. Don’t Walk Away (Gilder/Hitchings) 4.41
05. Too Long A Soldier (Giraldo/Grombacher) 6.43
06. Cool Zero (Giraldo/Grombacher) 5.26
07. Cerebral Man (Winfield/Schiff) 4.47
08. Lift ‘Em On Up (Giraldo/Grombacher/Benatar) 5.00
09. Suffer The Little Children (Giraldo/Benatar) 4.13
10. Wide Awake In Dreamland (Giraldo/Grombacher) 5.00

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Sonya Varoujian – Seven (1998)

FrontCover1.jpgSonya Varoujian has been involved in music from a very early age. Sonya plays guitar,oud, keyboard, sings, and composes her own music and lyrics in both Armenian and English. Her music is an expression of the soul – a celebration of life, love, and homeland. She believes music is a gateway that allows people to share and experience truth and emotions that are normally left untapped.

During her formative years Sonya achieved numerous awards and recognition for her singing such as being selected in the New York All-State Choir. She has performed in Select Ensembles as well as in Armenian choirs under the direction of Jean Almouhian, the maestro of the Arax Argentinian Armenian Choir.

At an early age Sonya was inspired by folk vocalists such as Joan Baez and as a result learned to play the guitar at the age of 15. She recorded her first album entitled “All in All” which is a compilation of original songs with guitar and keyboard in London in 1991. Sonya expresses her love for life, nature, and human relationship in her music. Her songs are courageous, honest, and earthy. She formed her first band “Raindance” in London 1993 where she increased her repertoire and worked with musicians from Portugal and Thailand.

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In 1998 Sonya recorded her 2nd CD entitled “Seven” at Vapor Studios in NYC. At this time she worked with 5 other musicians Oshin Baroyan (producer and keyboardist), Steve Brien (Drums), Hallgrim Bratberg (Lead guitar), Rob Zion (Bass Guitar), and Jessica Hope (Backing Vocals). She regularly performed in the New York City circuit in such venues as CB’s Gallery, Mercury Lounge, The Bottom Line, and The Elbow Room. At this time she developed a good following and fan base and was also invited to play the Armenian American Music Festival in Long Island where for the first time she experimented with fusing her English band with authentic Middle Eastern instruments and collaborated with Michael Gostanian (Qanun), Haik Buchakjian (Oud), and Nshan Akgulian (Dumbek). She was also invited to participate in the PBS documentary the Armenian Americans along with celebrities such as Andre Agasse and Eric Boghosian.

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Following her success with “Seven” Sonya then recorded her third album entitled “Confession” in 2000 and continued to play venues in NYC and received many positive reviews and write ups in publications such as New York Newsday, Good Times Magazine, Stubble, Instant Magazine, Spill Magazine and the Armenian Reporter. Her songs also aired on radio stations such as WDRE 92.7 and WHRU 88.7.

In April 2006 Sonya went to Armenia and record her 4th CD entitled “Janapar” which composes of 12 original Armenian songs. Composer Narine Zarifyan wrote arrangements for her songs and Sonya collaborated with some of Armenia’s most talented musicians such as Hagop Jaghaspanyan (Guitar), Levon Tevanyan (Shvi), Armen Grigoryan (Duduk), Eduard Hartunyan (Percussion), Artyom Manukyan (Cello), Nelly Manoukyan (Flute), Linos String Quartet, Mary Vardanyan (Qanun) and others…

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The result spectacularly brings together her European roots and Armenian descent as Celtic-like haunting melodies together with the Armenian spirit merge into something truly beautiful. Her songs are about life, love, the village in which she volunteered in in Armenia in 2005, Armenia, and her return to her ancestral homeland. Sonya has since performed at the Golden Guitar Music Festival in July 2006 in Yerevan and has also given 3 solo concerts in Yerevan (1 in July 2006 and 2 in October 2006) in which she has performed both her Armenian and English songs. Her concerts have all sold out and as a result she has been invited to numerous television interviews and programs and has had further reviews in journals like “Afisha”, Armenia Now, and Yerevan Weekly. Her music also gets regular airplay on Armenian radio stations worldwide. (by armeniapedia.org)

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Website (now deleted)

And this is her scond album:

“Lead singer Sonya Varoujian has an elegant voice that does a great job of projecting her songs. Her mellow yet powerful tone would leave most listeners extremely impressed.” (Good Times)

“Sonya is a born entertainer who captures her audience with her catchy melodies, meaningful lyrics and incredibly passionate performance.” (Manhasset Press)

“Sometimes the letter grades above these reviews aren’t enough. For Seven, there should be a fourth category: atmosphere. It would get an A+…Seven creates a lush sound over which Sonya Varoujian’s voice soars. It is like aural aromatherapy.” (New York Newsday)

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“Seven is Sonya Varoujian and her evident talents are a promising treat for this constantly changing music business. This girl is strong and independent and there is always room for someone who clearly sings from the heart.” (Instant Magazine)

June 1999 –  “Sonya is a promising and talented artist and it wouldn’t surprise me in the least to find her making a fine career out of doing what she loves.” (Spill Magazine)

And yes, this is a very special, a very unique album. a very intimae album … a lost treasure in the history of folk music.

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Personnel:
Oshin Baroyan (keyboards)
Hallgrim Bratberg (guitar)
Steve Brien (drums)
Sonya Varoujian (vocals, guitar)
Rob Zion (bass)
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Eric Presti (guitar on 02. + 07.)
Carlos Savetman (guitar on 01., 04. – 06.)
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Jessica Hope (background vocals)

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Tracklist:
01. Reality 3.29
02. Straight To Somewhere 3.38
03. Remember 3.33
04. Strange 3.12
05. Pleasure 3.20
06. Knowing In The End 5.04
07. Cram 2.58
08. Home 5.28

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After 2017 the traces of this artist get lost und it is unknown where she is now …

Sonya Varoujian … where are you now ?

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