SP 5040 Secret Secrets
Produced by Mike Howlett
Released on February 1985
UK CHART POSITION #14 . . . US CHART POSITION #73
Find it at GEMM
SP 5040 cover
[high resolution photo]
 

S upple and sway. The best Joan Armatrading albums have them. Beginning with Me Myself I, Joan started making more jagged music: edgy, off-kilter synthesizer rock. Something very human remained at the core of her music, but it was often tramped out like a little girl in lipstick and high heels. “Talking to the Wall,” now that’s the graceful Joan I remember. “Thinking Man” and “Temptation” are perky, “Love By You” is sad, “Strange” luminous. The rest of the record is a little wobbly and too made-up. “Persona Grata” and “Moves” are overproduced. “One Night” is overwrought. “Friends Not Lovers” was over when disco ended. The secret is that Joan is far more talented than this album lets on. On past albums, she played piano and electric guitar. Here, she sings and strums an acoustic guitar you hardly hear. The Joan Armatrading of old could be awfully dry, I’ll admit, but at least she wasn’t noisy. Secret Secrets is noisy sometimes (so was The Key), and that noisiness undermines her ability to communicate with us deeply when it counts. When I listen to Track Record, I get shivers. For me, the shivers stopped coming with The Key. My world didn’t have a place for an aggressive Joan Armatrading surrounded by synthesizers. Secret Secrets is still a good album (I’m pretty sure Joan is incapable of making a bad one), but it’s also the second album in a row that wasn’t great. Sleight of Hand made it three in a row. Maybe Joan was sidetracked by her own success. Maybe she wanted to make masculine music. But beginning with The Key she got crowded out of her own records, and I came here mostly to hear Joan, not an entire band. There’s also a review at All Music Guide.

SP 5040 back cover SP 5040 lyric sleeve
SP 5040 back cover SP 5040 lyric sleeve

TRACK LISTING

  1. PERSONA GRATA    4:44
  2. TEMPTATION    4:03
  3. MOVES    4:12
  4. TALKING TO THE WALL    4:31
  5. LOVE BY YOU    3:13
  6. THINKING MAN    4:05
  7. FRIENDS NOT LOVERS    4:00
  8. ONE NIGHT    4:59
  9. SECRET SECRETS    3:28
  10. STRANGE    4:07

    All songs written and arranged by Joan Armatrading

CREDITS

JOAN ARMATRADING -- vocals, acoustic guitar, harmonica, string and horn arrangements
MEL GAYNOR -- drums, timpani, congas
ADRIAN LEE --synthesizer
PINO PALADINO -- bass
NICK PLYTAS -- keyboards, synthesizer
DAVID RHODES -- guitar
Dave Bitelli -- saxophone, horn scores
Raul D'Oliveira -- flugelhorn lead (4)
Joe Jackson -- keyboards, piano
Wesley Magoogan -- saxophone solo (1)
Alan Murphy -- rhythm guitar (7)
Steve Sidwell -- trumpet, flugelhorn
Paul Spong -- trumpet, flugelhorn
Rick Taylor -- trombone
Fiachra Trench -- string orchestrations
Bryan (Chuck) New -- engineer
Robert Mapplethorpe -- photography
Moira Bogue -- design
Michael Ross -- art direction

REGION RELEASE DATE LABEL MEDIA ID NUMBER FEATURES
UK/NET February 1985 A&M LP AMA 5040 lyric sleeve
US February 1985 A&M LP SP 5040 lyric sleeve
AUS'L 1985 A&M LP RML 53144  
YUG 1985 RTB LP 2222922  

 

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