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Belinda-sounding trio could've had a longer future
Daniel J. Hamlow | Narita, Japan | 02/23/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Of the Go-Go's, Belinda Carlisle, Jane Wiedlin, and Gina Schock were not the only Go-Go's to have musical sequels. Charlotte Caffey spent some time with Belinda writing songs for the latter's albums and doing backing vocals, then in 1989, formed a short-lived trio known as the Graces. Her bandmates were Gia Ciambotti and a certain Meredith Brooks. Now where have I heard that name before? I think it's something to do with a song rhyming with "rich.""Lay Down Your Arms" opens the album and while the song is a plea not to shoot love down, this could also be used as an anti-war song. This song would be covered by Belinda Carlisle on her Real album. That's fine, as she's returning a favour done here by the Graces. They cover Belinda's "Should I Let You In", originally on her Heaven On Earth album. Meredith sings this song. The guitar is more electric, but there's hardly a difference between this and the original.The rock-oriented "When The Sun Goes Down" has a beat reminding me of Survivor. Gia sings this song and her voice is rough in the Melissa Etheridge/Sass Jordan style, though not as strong. The three sing backing vocals together and they could pass as the Go-Go's.The title track, sung by Charlotte, could easily belong on Belinda Carlisle's Heaven On Earth or Runaway Horses, as it has a similar bass rhythm. I don't know if this was a single, but the "Na Na Na Na Na Na/standing next to you" is just aching to be aired on a pop/rock radio. Producer Rick Nowels does the harmonica here."Fear No Love", sung by Meredith, is a light rock song that Pat Benatar could have done, as it has strains of "We Belong." Meredith's voice is recognizable, but it isn't as strong as when she did her breakthrough solo song. However, I take issue with that first line: "Living a lifetime without love/I swear that's a sin.""Time Waits For No One" is another song that could've made it on Runaway Horses. It's a song that strives to treasure the now: "Tonight is tomorrow's memory/Who knows where we both may be by dawn." Charlotte's vocals kind of remind me of a sweeter version of Chrissie Hynde.Gia and Meredith share vocal duties on "50,000 Candles Burning", another Belinda-like song exhorting the celebration of life because of the candles burning. The drums really pound along with the chorus. A slight apocalyptic anxiety tinges this line: "The world could vanish in a flash of light/Oh precious time just fades away/Let's celebrate the love we have today." All three share lead vocals on "Tomorrow", a sad folky ballad, and "Out In The Field", which was co-written by Belinda Carlisle, and which has a harmony sound like Wilson Phillips and the Bangles.There are many producers here. The most recognizables are Rick Nowels and Ellen Shipley, best known for doing work on Belinda Carlisle's albums, but the executive producer is the well-known Jimmy Iovine. As for the lead vocal distribution, they take turns evenly.The Graces sound like a more rock-oriented version of the Go-Go's, with a touch of Bangles thrown in. Pity they only had the one album--it could've worked for another three."
Solid debut. Wish they would've lasted.
Tim Adca | College Park, MD | 12/03/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I just rediscovered this '89-'90 disk. The Graces were a really good combo, and Perfect View was a fine debut. It's a shame this talented (and commercially viable) trio didn't last. All three shared lead vocals and harmonized beautifully. Guitarist Charlotte Caffey reveals a more sophisticated songwriting style here than with her previous band the Go-Go's and displays a gentle, lovely singing voice. Multi-talented Meredith Brooks (pre-"Bitch" fame) plays guitar and sings as well, although none of her her own songwriting appears on the disk. Model-esque Gia Ciambotti is the reigning vocal powerhouse who completes this appealing trio. Fine musicianship appears throughout, even if it is occasionally hampered by dated production. "Lay Down Your Arms" was the Top 40 single, but there are a bunch of radio-worthy tunes here. "When the Sun Goes Down" and "50,000 Candles Burning" are great pop-rockers, and the mid-tempo "We Never Met" is sexy and yearning pop. It's easy to forgive the two clunkers, "Fear No Love" and "Should I Let You In," both of which feature sub-par writing by Charlotte and trying-too-hard vocals by Meredith. Otherwise, this is a very satisfying disk, rounded out by some beautiful ballads and hinting at a bright future. It's a shame these three talented women didn't record together again. There was a lot of potential here."