Wide 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)
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)
`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.
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.
`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)
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)
Nick Gilder – background vocals on 04. + 06.)
background vocals on 08:
Carmen Twillie – Phyllis St. James – Maxine Waters
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