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Nicks croons ’80s best with ‘Crystal Visions’

Marty Schroeder | Monday, April 16, 2007

Self-billed as the most successful woman in rock ‘n’ roll history, Stevie Nicks has roller-coastered through a career with rock legends Fleetwood Mac and ventured out on her own to a very successful solo career. With the recently released “Crystal Visions,” Nicks comprises the highs – and lows – of her musical history. She joins with musical greats Tom Petty, Don Henley and former bandmates Fleetwood Mac on this mostly stellar, sometimes mediocre album.

Opening with the hit “Edge of Seventeen,” Nicks holds nothing back with her most famous of songs. Crooning in perfect ’80s rock style about the white wing dove, Nicks realizes what teenagedom was about. Remade famous by Joan Cusack’s impromptu signing in “School of Rock,” this ’80s ballad will always remain iconic.

The heavy chords of “I Can’t Wait” keep the rock juices pumping with some edgy and flamboyant guitars that match perfectly to the techno beats in the background. The ’80s are encapsulated in this rock/techno jam that will make any child of that blessed decade yearn for a comeback of John Hughes, Bon Jovi and Van Halen. Nicks roughs up her voice and weaves through the guitar solos showing why this song was an instant classic.

Following the one-two punch that “Edge of Seventeen” and ‘I Can’t Wait” make up, she brings in rock legend Tom Petty to help on “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around.” This is one of the weaker songs on the album because it can’t decide if it wants to be a Petty or Nicks song. It tries to be both, but doesn’t do either very well. Petty’s guitar is prominent and it tunes up a fairly decent rhythm. But the chorus transitions into an ’80s riff more akin to Nicks. The dichotomy between the two parts doesn’t fit and brings down a song that could have been great.

What didn’t work with Tom Petty works marvelously well with Don Henley on one of the closing tracks, “Leather and Lace.” This track delves into Nicks’s folk side while not ignoring her rock side. Nicks sings in a very competent country style that listens to country greats before the pop revolution that is now overtaking the genre came into effect. Don Henley’s calm yet moving guitars complement Nicks perfectly. As do the sections when Henley exercises his soothingly edgy voice that wouldn’t normally seem at home amongst a folk song.

The album closes with a live version of “Edge of Seventeen” that rocks harder than the studio version. The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra plays alongside Nicks that is far more a successful combination that it would seem. The orchestra sound next to the electric guitar brings memories of Metallica’s foray into orchestra rock. Obviously not the same, this version still brings some rock power next to a equally powerful strings section.

All in all, this album is for any Nicks fan – her career is very well summed up in this good compilation. Eighties rock is still alive and well with the edgy Nicks, and as long as people still remember what “The Breakfast Club” was all about, Nicks will still have a relevant place in the American music scene. Where more music has gone the way of the pop talent eraser, Nicks holds nothing back and puts violins next to her big hair.