If one were to draw up a list of the most underrated albums of the 1980s, then this album would have to be near the top. It's easy to forget that in the late eighties Belinda Carlisle ranked up there with Madonna as one of the biggest female pop stars in the world. HEAVEN ON EARTH was her commercial blockbuster. Each song is at least solid and several are amazingly good.
"Heaven Is a Place on Earth" is the track that will ring the most bells. Part dance song, part rip-roaring anthem, it remains a masterpiece of its genre. Actually, it might be best thought of as a really good arena rock song. Not surprisingly, it went to #1 on the Billboard singles chart. Remember the music video for this song? Belinda always had sex appeal and charisma, but she completely outdid herself on this one. The atmospheric "Circle in the Sand" was another Top 10 hit. You can practically feel the ocean breeze blow in your face as the song plays, and it might have her best vocal performance ever. The other Top 10 hit on the album is "I Get Weak," which peaked at #2. Written by Diane Warren, Belinda sounds downright triumphant as she sings it.
It's a pleasant surprise to hear Belinda cover Cream's "I Feel Free." The only problem is that one of the lines is wrong. As written by Jack Bruce and Pete Brown, the final verse is supposed to be: "Dancefloor is like the sea/Ceiling is the sky/You're the sun and as you shine on me/I feel free." Instead Belinda starts it by singing: "As far as I can see/Ceiling is the sky ..." But it sounds so good, why complain?
Elaborately produced, this album is very different from Belinda's earlier work with the Go-Go's. That's both a positive and a negative. At times the production is a little too glossy and slick. It was recorded in 1987, after all. But Go-Go's fans will be happy to know that Charlotte Caffey co-wrote four of the album's ten songs. So if you're searching for some harmless Reagan-era pop, HEAVEN ON EARTH is as good a place as any to start.