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Music Review: Stevie Nicks – Rock A Little

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Stevie Nicks released her third solo album on November 18, 1985. Rock A Little was recorded during a difficult time in her life. Her addictions were in full flower and her relationship with producer Jimmy Iovine had ended. Iovine would leave in the middle of the recording sessions.

After a tour to support the album, she checked into the Betty Ford Center. It all added up to a somewhat inconsistent release, though it did hit platinum status within months of its release.

Nicks created a musical journey through her life at the time. The overall quality of the material may not have been her best but the intent was solid. It was also an album of the eighties, which was heavy on the synthesizers and bass, which dates it a little. Sometimes I wish she would re-record this album in a stripped down version.

While there are not a number of signature songs, some of the material does have an upside. “Talk To Me” was the biggest hit, reaching number four on the pop charts and number one on the rock charts. It was also a memorable MTV video. The album’s best track was “Has Anyone Ever Written Anything For You.” It is an emotional ballad with piano and orchestra sections.

If you are willing to search, there are several other representative tracks. “I Can’t Wait” is a hard driving guitar-based song that is also danceable if you are so inclined. It was perfect radio fare for the time period and was a top 20 single hit. “Sister Honey” is another catchy dance track that is just a little too heavy on the drums. “I Sing For The Things” may not be the strongest music but the lyrics are poetic and memorable. “Imperial Hotel” is another strong rocker.

On the other hand, the rest of the tracks are average at best and seem to stem from her problems in life at the time. She managed to put together an album under trying circumstances, and while some of the material may not have met her previous standards, she did accomplish the task with grim determination.

In retrospect, Rock A Little is certainly listenable but does not compare with her best work. The technology of today allows a person to pull off the better tracks, with the leftovers better consigned to the mists of time.

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  • Charlie Doherty

    This article has been updated to reflect PT’s comment #1 (which was correct).

  • Leslie

    In response to PT, I’m having only a teeny hard time with this review, but it doesn’t have to do with the sales numbers. It has to do with personal preference, I suppose. I feel this is her best work VOCALLY, on any solo album. Yes, even more so than Bella Donna. Why? There is so much PASSION. “Edge Of Seventeen” was the only track on ‘Bella Donna’ that gave us a glimpse of that passion. ‘Wild Heart’ took it a step further with ‘Stand Back’ and ‘Nothing Ever Changes’. But ‘Rock a Little’ truly blew all of her previous work out of the water. But then again, this is only an opinion…

  • PT

    Good album, but I’m having a hard time believing it took over 22 years to reach the million units sold mark as you state. It was certified platinum (a million units shipped) in Jan.1986 just a few months after it’s release… Surely they didn’t produce a million units only to have them sit on shelves for 20 years.