Get Closer

Linda Ronstadt

Asylum, 1982

REVIEW BY: David Bowling


After starring in The Pirates of Pinzance on Broadway, Linda Ronstadt returned during September of 1983 with the third album in her rock trilogy, Get Closer. It did not have the edginess or new wave slant of her previous studio release, Mad Love. Gone were songs by Elvis Costello and The Cretones, replaced by an eclectic group of rock oldies and ballads. It would be her least commercially successful album and lowest charting effort since her self titled 1971 release.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Despite its disappointing popularity at the time of its initial release, it has withstood the test of time well and I place it among my top three favorite Linda Ronstadt albums.

I would have liked to have seen her do a whole album of older material, as three of her covers from rock ‘n’ roll’s past are excellent. Billy Joe Royal had a hit with “I Knew You When” in 1965. Ronstadt shows off her Broadway-enhanced vocals and gives a powerful performance which returned the song to the American top forty. The Exciters' 1962 hit “Tell Him” is covered in the same style. Her phrasing is precise as the song just bops along. The gem of the album is her rendition of the old Knickerbockers garage hit “Lies.” If you want to hear Linda Ronstadt at her best, this is a place to start.

There are a number of fine ballads as well. Jimmy Webb’s “Easy For You To Say” is good, but his “The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress” is spectacular. Her interpretation is emotional and poignant. I have always found Kate McGarrigle’s vocals a little difficult to take but her writing ability is first rate -- “Talk To Me Of Mendocino” is one of those songs that paint wonderful pictures and Ronstadt is more than up to the task of interpreting this sophisticated composition.

The album’s final track is pure country. She joins with the song's composer Dolly Parton, plus Emmylou Harris, for some wonderful harmonies. This track would look ahead to their future work together.

Get Closer would close out another phase of Ronstadt's career. Age forty was not too far in her future and her days of performing in a cut off Cub Scout uniform were behind her. Her next release would present a far different Linda Ronstadt and so this album remains a nice artifact of a strong phase of her career.

Rating: A-

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