Secret Dreams And Forbidden Fire is Bonnie's second Jim Steinman-produced album. Looks like the Meat Loaf got a little too rancid. Anyway, like Meat Loaf's Bat Out Of Hell, operatic choruses abound on this album more than Steinman's first Bonnie Tyler album, Faster Than The Speed Of Night, which while having its moments, was kind of uneven in consistency. Secret Dreams is more polished than its predecessor even though none of its songs blazed up the charts like "Total Eclipse." In fact Jim Steinman penned four of the songs here, including the first two singles.
However, the honour of penning the Bon-Jovi-like "If You Were A Woman (And I Was A Man) belongs to ace songwriter Desmond Child, who also cowrote Bon Jovi's "You Give Love A Bad Name". Compare the stylings of the music,as applied to these lyrics: "If you were a woman, and I was a man, would it be so hard to understand. That a heart's a heart and we do what we can" with "Shot through the heart, and you're to blame/You give love a bad name." Identical tempos and rhythms. This was the single following "Holding Out For A Hero" and it's one of the best songs here.
"No Way To Treat A Lady" is the second Bryan Adams-Jim Vallance song done by Bonnie, although if I recall correctly, this wasn't done by the Adams-Vallance team previously. The rhythms in the chorus make it a close cousin of Aretha Franklin's "Who's Zooming Who."
The centerpiece and crown jewel of this album is nearly eight minute opus "Loving You Is A Dirty Job But Somebody's Gotta Do It", which is a combination of "Total Eclipse Of The Heart" and "Faster Than The Speed Of Night," meaning that it's the big emotional hit of the album plus the racing intense operatic Meat Loaf style song. Bonnie would do another long epic in the same vein when she covered Air Supply's "Making Love Out Of Nothing At All" on Free Spirit. Todd Rundgren's strident vocals compliment Bonnie's scratchy vocals brilliantly. This sad song recalling a relationship whose spark has gone out can be summed up in the line: "There were times when we had it all." Yes, it's a Steinman tune.
Then there's a cover of Freda Payne's "Band Of Gold," which was also covered by Belinda Carlisle on her debut album that same year. This version has the 80's techno beat and bass-like synthesizers and is more upbeat than Belinda's cover. "All that's left is a band of gold/All that's left of the dreams I hold" could well be a codicil to the "Dirty Job" song.
"Rebel Without A Clue" done by Steinman, opens with a heavy guitar, followed by the fast-paced 80's rhythm and synthesizers. It's a pale version of "Holding Out For A Hero", which is quicker and more intense.
"Lovers Again" is the ballad that Bonnie should have covered on Faster Than The Speed Of Night instead of "Tears." She's backed by an operatic gospelish chorus. This is a Desmond Child song here.
"Before This Night Is Through" is a nice mid-paced ballad that reminds me a bit of the rhythms of both the Police's "Every Breath You Take" and Blondie's "English Boys."
This album left me sated by the time I got to the finale of the Footloose single, "Holding Out For A Hero," which is a racy 80's-techno number, calling out for the archetypal hero to the rescue. This was played in the tractor chicken scene in Footloose. It's my second favourite song here after "Dirty Job."
A pity this didn't do as well as Faster Than The Speed Of Night, because in some ways, Secret Dreams has a more consistent sound. It's a great showcase for Bonnie's voice without turning her into another Meat Loaf. Besides, she doesn't weigh that much anyway. Seriously, Bonnie really rules on this album!