Rock a Little
|Rock a Little|
|Studio album by Stevie Nicks|
|Released||November 18, 1985|
|Genre||AOR, Melodic rock, Arena rock, Pop, Pop rock, Adult contemporary|
|Label||Modern Records (US)
Atlantic Records (Canada)
Parlophone Records (outside US & Canada)
Reprise Records (reissue)
|Stevie Nicks chronology|
|The New York Times||(Favorable)|
Released in late 1985 while Fleetwood Mac were still on a lengthy hiatus following their album Mirage in 1982, Rock a Little hit the top 20 in its second week and ultimately peaked at #12 on the U.S. Billboard charts, and was certified platinum after just 1 month of its release for sales in excess of 1,000,000 units. It was also certified gold in the UK for sales in excess of 100,000 units.  The album was ranked #41 in the best-selling albums of 1986 in the U.S. Although sales did not match Nicks' earlier albums, Bella Donna and The Wild Heart (both selling in excess of 4 and 2 million copies in the U.S. respectively), Rock a Little produced the hits "Talk to Me" (US#4), "I Can't Wait" (US#16), and the mainstay encore for Nicks' live shows, "Has Anyone Ever Written Anything for You?" (US#60). A fourth single, "Imperial Hotel" was released in Australia. The album peaked at #5 in Australia, #8 in Canada, and #30 in the UK.
Recording for her follow-up project to 1983's multi-platinum album The Wild Heart originally began in 1984, under the collective heading of "Mirror, Mirror". A selection of songs were recorded, including "Running Through the Garden" and "Mirror Mirror". However, Nicks scrapped these recordings and parted ways with long-time producer and romantic interest Jimmy Iovine, and in late 1984 began work on what is now recognised as the Rock a Little project. "Running Through the Garden" would resurface in completed form in 2003 on the Fleetwood Mac album Say You Will.
The album is reputed to have cost $1 million USD to record (according to Mick Fleetwood in his autobiography), and is seen as a watershed in the singer's career. The vocal style is distinctively more husky and nasal (many claim this was due to increasing cocaine abuse) than on previous recordings, and, uncharacteristically, some of the album's tracks were not written by Nicks herself. It was later revealed that Martin Page and Bernie Taupin had specially written the track "These Dreams" for inclusion on the album, but Nicks turned it down. The track was then recorded by the band Heart and became their first no.1 in 1986.
Nicks had recorded various other tracks prior to the album's release, including the uptempo rocker "Violet and Blue", and "Battle of the Dragon", a moody and intricate contemplation of the stormy relationships between Fleetwood Mac members at that time. Rather than included on her own album, both were featured on movie soundtracks (Against All Odds and American Anthem respectively), though they were both featured on Nicks' 3-disc retrospective Enchanted in 1998. A duet with Eagles drummer and former lover Don Henley titled "Reconsider Me" would also see the cutting room floor, and the rock ballad "One More Big Time Rock and Roll Star" was relegated to the B-side of the "Talk to Me" single. Many other discarded demos from the sessions have never seen the light of day, but a few, including "Greta", "Love is Like a River" and "Listen to the Rain", were dusted off for her 1994 album, Street Angel. "Thousand Days" was relegated to a B-side. "Mirror, Mirror" was tried out again for 1989's The Other Side of the Mirror, and was again revisited in 1994 for inclusion on Street Angel, but ultimately the original Rock a Little version was only released on a cassette single of "Blue Denim" in 1994 and, as such, has become a highly sought after Nicks recording.
Jimmy Iovine was originally brought in to produce the album and worked on the original demo recordings in 1984. However, he parted ways with Nicks midway through the recording sessions, claiming he did not like the direction in which Nicks wanted to take the album. It was later revealed that the two had been in a relationship for several years, and he left production of Rock a Little due to their break-up and Nicks' subsequent relationship with Eagles member Joe Walsh (for whom she penned the ballad "Has Anyone Ever Written Anything for You"). Keith Olsen, Rick Nowels and Nicks herself took over production duties after Iovine's departure.
Upon release in November 1985, Rock a Little received very mixed reviews. Combined with Nicks' growing addiction to cocaine at the time which hampered her tour performances (she would famously check into the Betty Ford Clinic at the tour's conclusion), the album did not achieve sales or chart positions expected of Nicks at that time. It entered the U.S. Billboard chart at #60, eventually peaking at #12 in its ninth week of release. The album spent 35 weeks on the Billboard 200 chart, including 13 weeks in the Top 20.
|1.||"I Can't Wait"||Stevie Nicks, Rick Nowels, Eric Pressly||Jimmy Iovine, Rick Nowels||4:37|
|2.||"Rock a Little (Go Ahead Lily)"||Nicks||Iovine||3:39|
|3.||"Sister Honey"||Nicks, Les Dudek||Nowels||3:50|
|4.||"I Sing for the Things"||Nicks||Iovine||3:45|
|5.||"Imperial Hotel"||Nicks, Mike Campbell||Mike Campbell, Iovine||2:53|
|6.||"Some Become Strangers"||David Williams, Amy Latelevision, Peter Rafelson||Iovine||3:30|
|7.||"Talk to Me"||Chas Sandford||Chas Sandford, Iovine||4:10|
|8.||"The Nightmare"||Nicks, Chris Nicks||Nowels||5:23|
|9.||"If I Were You"||Nicks, Nowels||Nowels||4:31|
|10.||"No Spoken Word"||Nicks||Keith Olsen||4:14|
|11.||"Has Anyone Ever Written Anything for You?"||Nicks, Keith Olsen||Nowels||4:34|
Alternative versions and 12-inch releases
- "I Can't Wait" was released as a 12-inch single in an extended 6:00 rock version in many territories, but the UK release exclusively included a longer and different version of the album track "Rock a Little (Go Ahead Lily)" running at 5:12, currently unavailable on any other release.
- "Has Anyone Ever Written Anything for You?" was also released in a 12-inch version in the UK, and included a 'dub' rock version of "I Can't Wait", clocking in at 5:50.
- All 7-inch and 12-inch releases of "Talk to Me" included the non-album track "One More Big Time Rock and Roll Star", written by Nicks, which later appeared with a slightly truncated ending on her 1998 retrospective boxset, Enchanted.
- The highly sought after 5-track US 12-inch release of "I Can't Wait", in one of the most iconic picture sleeves of Nick's career, includes:
- "I Can't Wait" (Rock Mix) — 6:00
- "I Can't Wait" (Instrumental Dance Mix) — 6:20
- "I Can't Wait" (Dub Dance Mix) — 4:23
- "I Can't Wait" (Rock Dub Mix) — 5:50
- "The Nightmare" (Special Extended Vocal Remix) — 6:40
Collectible promotional releases
Very collectible 7-inch promotional singles of "I Can't Wait" and "Talk to Me" were also sent to US radio stations in 1985 and 1986. The "I Can't Wait" promo features an alternative picture sleeve to the conventional 7 inch release, and includes two exclusive versions of the song specially created for radio. 12-inch vinyl promos of both singles were also sent to US radio stations, with that of "Talk to Me" being especially sought after for its glossy sleeve.
A very limited US 12-inch DJ only vinyl featured "Imperial Hotel" as the A-side, with the Rock Mix of "I Can't Wait" as the B-side.
A Spanish 7-inch promo of "Talk to Me" features an exclusive picture sleeve unreleased in any other territory.
- Stevie Nicks — lead vocals
- Jamie Sheriff — synthesizers, programming (tracks 1-3, 11)
- Billy Payne — synthesziers (track 2)
- Charles Judge — synthesizers, piano (tracks 3-4, 8-9, 11)
- Greg Phillinganes — synthesziers, keyboards, timpani (tracks 5, 7)
- Chas Sandford — synthesizers, guitar, bass guitar (track 6)
- Rick Nowels — keyboards (tracks 1, 3, 8, 10-11)
- Bill Cuomo — keyboards (track 10)
- Benmont Tench — piano, organ (tracks 5-6)
- George Black — guitar, bass (tracks 1, 3, 8)
- Michael Landau — guitar, background vocals (tracks 1, 3, 8)
- Waddy Wachtel — guitar (tracks 2, 10)
- Danny Kortchmar — guitar (track 3)
- Mike Campbell — guitar (track 4)
- Kenny Edwards — bass (track 2)
- Bob Glaub — bass (tracks 4-5)
- Michael Porcaro — bass (track 10)
- Bobbye Hall — percussion (track 3)
- David Kemper — percussion, tambourine (tracks 9, 11)
- Steve Jordan — drums (track 2, 5, 6)
- Russ Kunkel — drums (track 3)
- Andy Newmark — drums (tracks 8-9)
- Denny Carmassi — drums (track 10)
- Barney Wilen — saxophone (track 6)
- Lori Perry-Nicks — background vocals
- Sharon Celani — background vocals (tracks 1-10)
- Maria Vidal — background vocals (tracks 1-2, 7-8)
- Marilyn Martin — background vocals (tracks 1-3, 5-6, 10)
- Carolyn Brooks — background vocals (track 11)
Promotional videos were shot for the singles "Talk to Me" and "I Can't Wait". In 1986 a 6-track VHS tape titled I Can't Wait was released in many territories, and featured the following promos:
- "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around"
- "Leather and Lace" (Live, 1981 Bella Donna Tour)
- "Stand Back"
- "If Anyone Falls"
- "Talk to Me"
- "I Can't Wait"
This release is notable for including a live solo performance of "Leather and Lace" from the last night of Nicks' 1981 Bella Donna Tour, which was cut from the VHS release of White Wing Dove: Stevie Nicks Live, a 9-track edit of the same concert.
Five of these promos are included on the DVD supplement to Nicks' 2008 collection Crystal Visions — The Very Best of Stevie Nicks, but the only DVD availability of the live version of "Leather and Lace" is the Australian release of Fleetwood Mac's Mirage Tour concert, for which all six videos of the I Can't Wait collection are included as a special bonus feature.
The US leg of the Rock a Little Tour kicked off in 1986 and concluded with a show at the famous Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Colorado, which was captured and released on video (and later on DVD) usually entitled Live at Red Rocks. Evidence of Nicks' drug abuse is apparent in both performance and vocals, but the show is noticeably 'cleaned up' with re-shot close-ups, inserts and vocal overdubs. The video/DVD is also a very much shortened version of the actual setlist, clocking in at only 57 minutes, 15 of which are devoted to a very lengthy version of "Edge of Seventeen" though this was adjusted on the DVD release.
|United Kingdom (BPI)||Gold||100,000^|
|United States (RIAA)||Platinum||1,000,000^|
^shipments figures based on certification alone
- Allmusic review
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- Rolling Stone review
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