After starring in The Pirates of Penzance 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 last studio release, Mad Love. Gone were songs by Elvis Costello and The Cretones, opting instead for 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.
Despite its disappointing popularity at the time of its initial release, it has stood 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 and here Ronstadt shows off her Broadway enhanced vocals to give a powerful performance, returning the song to the American top forty. The Exciters 1962 hit, “Tell Him,” is covered in the same style. Her phasing 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. Her rendition of Jimmy Webb’s “Easy For You To Say” is good, but her cover of another songs of his, “The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress,” is spectacular as 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 which paints wonderful pictures and Ronstadt is more than up to interpreting this sophisticated composition.
The album’s final track is pure country. She teams up with Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris for some wonderful harmonies on "My Blue Tears," a performance that looked ahead to their future work together.
Get Closer closed 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 one of her particularly strong musical periods.