In a season when alternatives rule and riot grrrls are acting up, Pat Benatar, who blossomed amid the corporate-rock wallpaper rolled out in the early ’80s by Toto, Journey, and REO Speedwagon, is less compelling if, oddly enough, more likable than ever. She has finally surrendered her phony tough-chick pose for a lyrical perspective not unlike the good intentions of any other bighearted suburban mom. Gravity’s Rainbow, a showcase for journeyman/hubby Neil Geraldo’s meticulous guitar playing (especially on ”Everybody Lay Down” and ”Ties That Bind”), has a relaxed, convivial feel — enabled, no doubt, by its being recorded in the couple’s state-of-the-art home studio. Benatar’s big voice also sounds more at home now that she’s no longer squeezed into Spandex and tube tops.
Too bad Benatar doesn’t have material stronger than ”Somebody’s Baby” (this year’s model of her old ”Hell Is for Children”) to accompany her mid-life transformation. She and Geraldo clearly hit their best shots when working with outside songwriters; under strict supervision, they sounded as if they were punching the clock, not just romping in the rec room. B