333 Words on Linda Ronstadt’s “Mad Love”

In 1980, 1980s, Elvis Costello and the Attractions, Linda Ronstadt, pop, Rich's House of Vinyl on July 7, 2014 at 12:23 am

New Wave Linda. That’s what Linda Ronstadt’s 1980 album Mad Love is all about. And I love it.

There is a subgenre of record albums released between around 1978 and 1983 that I like to call “pretend new wave.” Pretend new wave records were made by established artists who wanted to try something new and different, so they turned to the energy and style of the various artists that were currently being labeled “new wave.” Of course, the term “new wave” itself was pretty much just a marketing term, probably invented by some record company PR guy trying to figure out how to sell early albums by the likes of Pretenders, Adam and the Ants, A Flock of Seagulls and all of these other bands who, though they didn’t have much in common other than being new, needed to be lumped together in a way that music fans could make the necessary neural connections to say, “Hey, I like all these bands! I’m a new wave fan.”

This marketing plan certainly worked on me. I was a new wave fan. Still am.

Mad Love is an excellent example of a pretend new wave album. Ronstadt had achieved huge success in the 1970s, but she was apparently feeling like things were getting a bit stale and decided to hitch a ride on the new wave with Mad Love, released in early 1980. The album contains not one, not two, but three Elvis Costello songs! How much more new wave could one get in ’80, right?

While the Costello songs gave Mad Love songwriting cred, it’s the three singles that were successfully spun off the album that I love the most: the rollicking “How Do I Make You” hit #10 on the Hot 100 in early ’80, followed by the tortured soul of “Hurt So Bad” (#8) in April and the lower-charting, but still way-cool “I Can’t Let Go” (#31) in July. The rest of the LP is just fine, but the hits are the heart and soul of pretend new wave classic Mad Love.

  1. “How Do I Make You” is still on of her best songs, However her vocal performance on Tumbling Dice still make it her finest performance.

  2. Thanks. Linda’s voice carried her through the varying fashion of the music biz.. Very good best of if well compiled! Regards thom

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