This 1985 record heradled Pat's continued commercial decline (marked by the "only platinum" sales of "Tropico"), but found Pat & Co. continuing to forge ahead as artists. After the slightly successful, but confusing (for some fans at least) "Tropico", Pat found herself in a corner of sorts. The label wanted another record immediately & she found herself wondering which direction to continue. It was clear that Pat was proud of her rock roots, but had enjoyed the art detour that the "Tropico" project offered.
So, "Seven the Hard Way" was hastily assembled. Infused with the arty experimentalism of "Tropico", but the rock fervor of her previous four albums, "Seven" had a very spontaneous, yet slightly throwaway quality. This isn't a bad thing. Some of Pat & Co.'s freshest material came from this album, look no further than the first three tracks.
"Sex As A Weapon", "Le Bel Age", & "Walking In the Underground" all possesed what some would call her trademark rock grit, but was still showcasing the tight focus of her arty material. These to me are some of Pat's best songs in my opinion.
The almost operatic quality of "Le Bel Age" to the underlying jazz smoulder of "Walking In the Underground" found Pat trying to find a middle ground, & doing it successfully.
The core of the record however finds the record's shortcoming's exposed. The three middle tracks tend to blend together, sounding like ideas or moreso polished jam sessions committed to tape, which gives the mid-section a bit of a sagging quality. Good ideas mind you, but ones that never really reach fruition. Pat recovers with the surprising uplifting soul infused "Run Between the Raindrops" which ranks as one of her most endearing ballads. Which moves me to my next point: Pat's voice.
Pat always sounds so enthused & really into the material she is given. I really like how she understands how to manipulate her voice to make it emulate emotion without sounding too dramatic. She captures anger, love, passion altogether in an almost seamless whole.
Overall, "Seven the Hard Way" finds Pat & Co. able to put together a rather strong album under hectic circumstances, which resulted in some of their freshest material. Even with the weak mid-section, the other songs still manage to up this typical 'four star' album to 'five star' status. The follow-up 1988's "Wide Awake In Dreamland" had more of a planned 'arena rock' vibe to it. I highly recommend this to 1980's music freaks, rock fans, & pop fans because there is something here for everyone.
This is one of my all-time favorite Pat records, along with "Tropico", "In the Heat of the Night", & "True Love". Definitely prime choice Pat Benatar. Remember! Don't buy the combo pack of "Tropico/Seven the Hard Way" the songs are edited from their fuller album versions!