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I love this CD, and I think it clearly establishes Belinda Carlisle as a serious, powerful singer in her own right. This is a mature album in terms of the music and the lyrics; while faint echoes of the Go-Go's can be detected in a couple of songs, there is no sugary pop aspect to be found. She does indeed get real on these songs, going quite deep into the listener's soul. This music does differ from her earlier work somewhat, which explains to some degree why casual listeners might not recognize its merits without hearing the songs several times. Most unfortunately, many people never got a chance to hear a single track on here because radio stations largely ignored it. This is a recording of high quality, consistently enjoyable from start to finish.
It is strange in a way to detect traces of Go-Go's music in places here because in depth and emotional content these songs are on the opposite side of the spectrum from that great music from the past. "Goodbye Day" starts with a quick flurry of drums, which is a little unusual, but its vibrant, full sound makes it an excellent opening track. "Windows on the World" has somewhat of a Go-Go's music pace and sound, but it is by no means a meaningless pop song. "Tell Me" is a wonderful song. The verses have a slight Go-Go's feel to them, but the choruses take the intensity up several notches and imprint Belinda's individual voice on the song. It features an uptempo beat similar to that of "Lay Down Your Arms," but Belinda's singing gives this song the kind of emotional pathos it really needs. I really love "Lay Down Your Arms" because of its passionate and intense choruses; of all the songs on the album, this is the one that I often find replaying itself in my head. "Wrap My Arms" is another gem of a song which really seems to come from the heart.
I think the album is definitely geared more toward women than men, yet I as a man certainly treasure it. Its lyrics deal more with love's failures than love in and of itself. "Lay Down Your Arms" is a passionate appeal to rebuild a relationship that is being pulled apart by the man. "It's Too Real" is a catchy song reflecting the inherent tensions between men and women: "Who wants to live in a man's world?" Belinda asks. "Too Much Water" is a slow song with a gentle rhythm in the background that makes me think of waves washing on the beach. It is an emotional song about relationships washing away when the bridges connecting us emotionally fall down. "Where Love Hides" is one of Belinda's better slow, melancholy songs. Following it, however, we have a real rocker of a song called "One With You." The two songs offer an interesting contrast to one another. The first one is about longing for an undiscovered love; the second one is a straightforward appeal to a specific person.
Any doubts about the merits of the album disappear completely when one hears "Here Comes My Baby." The relatively quick pace of the songs preceding it makes its tender beauty stand out all the more. Belinda always ends her albums with a particularly impressive song, and "Here Comes My Baby" is second to no other. In a way this album has it all, from fast-paced songs to tender ballads; it should amaze rather than disappoint any Belinda Carlisle fan.
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Real was Belinda Carlisle's fifth album, originally released in 1993. It marks a change from the polished pop of her earlier albums, and the more guitar based songs hark back to her days with the Go-Go's.

Carlisle was also taking more of a hand in both the writing and production of her music, and although it lacked the broad commercial appeal of her earlier albums, it probably has stood the test of time better and twenty years after its first release Real is still an album that sounds fresh.

The lead off singles Big Scary Animal and Lay Down Your Arms were a signal of intent that this was a slightly different Belinda Carlisle, and Big Scary Animal performed well in the UK Singles Chart, peaking at number 12. Lay Down Your Arms (originally released by the Graces in 1989 - Carlisle's version sticks quite closely to the original) didn't fare as well, stalling at 27.

Although this was a sign that the album wasn't going to enjoy the success of previous records, there's still plenty to enjoy here - One With You and Tell Me are particular highlights, but the whole of the album is strong.

As with the previous albums, this 2013 re-issue adds considerable extra value to the original album. CD One has various remixes and edits after the main album has concluded and CD Two has plenty of interesting material.

The second CDs of previous albums in the re-issue series have tended to mostly comprise remixes, which can be interesting, but some lack a great deal of replay value. CD Two here has six demos, followed by the three new tracks recorded for the A Place on Earth compilation - Feels Like I've Known You Forever, A Prayer For Everyone and All God's Children. The CD is wrapped up with three live tracks - a rather wonky version of the Cream classic I Feel Free as well as Circle in the Sand and Heaven is a Place on Earth. It's a pity there were no live tracks from the Real album itself, but this is a bonus CD that works as a very good compilation in its own right.

The package is rounded off with a DVD containing promo videos and a new interview conducted by Mark Goodier in which Belinda talks about the making of the album.

Real is a good album of quality pop music and the plethora of quality bonus tracks make this a very appealing package.
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on 15 November 2009
I wasn't sure what to expect when I bought this album but from what I read from hard-core fans of Belinda this was her true self coming through in this album which is probably why it didn't do that great when released (you know how the music industry can try and keep you down if you are creative). This is different from her early stuff, not as poppy but a very thoughtful and expertly performed album with some great songs that will stand the test of time. There was some tracks that grabbed me instantly but others had to grow on me. Some albums no matter who they are need a few listens before they are truly appreciated, this is that kind of album. How I got interested in this album was from watching a clip of her on YouTube performing live on David Letterman's show, it was the track "Big scary animal" that caught my ear, I instantly loved it, he plugged the album "Real" for her on air so then I decided to check it out further and I wasn't disappointed. If you want to discover the true talent of Belinda Carlisle this album is a must have, definitely a great album and definitely Real.
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on 22 August 2015
More guitar-based and raw, "Real" (1993), Belinda Carlisle's 5th studio offering, is a departure from the perfectly polished pop of previous albums. Affected by motherhood, Belinda consciously chose to change direction with this, presenting a more personal and mature set of songs, which lacked the immediate, broad commercial appeal of past albums. A change in her image is obvious, too, hardly wearing any make-up on the stark cover and inside photos, as if trying to strip altogether (hmmm, please do!). Contributing to the overall sincerity is the fact that she co-wrote most of the songs, which also explains the intensity of her delivery. "Lay down your arms" and "One with you" are the record's instant grabbers, the rest of the album calls for repeated listenings before coming to appreciate it. "Too much water", and the almost religious "Where love hides", are also standouts, though more quiet, while the atmospheric "Tell me" should have been given a single release. The brilliantly remastered 2CD+DVD combo features an array of remixes and singles versions, as well as the videos, a brand new interview with BC, plus an extensive booklet with fantastic sleeve notes and rare photos, it is a gorgeous little package. Although it was hugely ignored, "Real" remains one of Belinda Carlisle's most consistent and rewarding recordings. Really.

**** for the album
***** for this edition
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on 16 January 2000
Real, in my opinion, is one of her best recordings. It rocks, it's mature and with Belinda co-writing about 6/10 of the songs is what makes "Real" real. I hadn't heard of Real's existance until one day when I was in the cd store I just happened to walk by and with a glance I saw her there standing proudly in Belinda Carlisle's cd section in all its beauty, it was Real. I thought how strange I haven't heard of its release and none of the Milwaukee radio stations gave Real any air-play. So I bought it not knowing what to expect or even how it sounded, but I'm glad I did. Lay Down Your Arms is my fav as is Too Much Water, Tell Me, Good Bye Day, Where Love Hides, Big Scary Animal, and Here Comes My Baby.
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on 13 September 2013
The fourth and final instalment in the Edsel Records Belinda Carlisle library, 'Real' was originally released in 1993 on the Virgin Records label both in the USA and the UK.

As with the previous reissues, all tracks are remastered, but this one only has a couple 7" versions as the single releases on this album had only 2 released: 'Big Scary Animal' and 'Lay Down Your Arms'
Also included are some demo versions of songs from this album, and some that are B-sides.
This release also includes the 3 new tracks recorded for the 'A Place on Earth: The Greatest Hits' released in 1999 on Virgin Records. The reason for their inclusion here is because they are part of the Virgin Records library which Edsel Records had purchased.
The Dyme Brothers remixes of 'Heaven is a Place on Earth' are included on here as they are more recent remixes.

However, the inclusion of the live versions of I Feel Free, Circle in the Sand, and Heaven is a Place on Earth (from the Love Never Dies 12" single from 1988) seems to be a bit of an epic fail, as they don't really fit on this album. My guess is that there was no room on the Heaven on Earth reissue to put these on, so they put them on here as there is less bonus tracks on the release.

Once again, the DVD contains the music videos to accompany the singles to this album plus the music video to All God's Children (from 1999). The interview with Belinda on here is much longer than the other releases, but is really good to watch.

Thanks Edsel for these superb reissues, you have made Belinda Carlisle fans the world over very happy :)
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on 3 September 2013
Belinda Carlisle's 1993 Real album has been Re-Released August 2013 in Deluxe 2CD/DVD Format. Firstly, to the packaging which is absolutely exceptional. I have purchased alot of Re-Issues but these are by far the best I have ever seen. Issued in Hard Case Bound Books, Top Grade Printing, Colour Photos, Full Lyrics, Production Notes & of course Liner Notes about the album with comments taken from Belinda herself.

CD1 Is the Original album Remastered with bonus tracks and single edits. Includes the hit single Big Scary Animal & 2nd single Lay Down Your Arms. What's fascinating is I've always wondered why there was only ever 2 singles released and Belinda answers that question fully both in the Liner Notes & on the DVD Interview.

CD2 Is like an album itself! Starts off with great Demo's of Whatcha Doin To Me which is a rocky little number. Don't Cry is very moody and just great. Then you get Demo's from Real. Also included are the 3 tracks from 1999's Place On Earth + 3 Live 1988 tracks to make an excellent 12 Track Album. It's just an amazing mix.

DVD The Real Interview is the longest and most in depth covers alot of ground after this period and touches on A Woman & Man. I don't wanna spoil anything. But it's fascinating, in depth and answers alot of questions about the album, the singles and the success of the album. Why it was promoted the way it was.

Overall...Real is Belinda's most daring & personal album. She was a part of the entire making of this album. The Re-Issue has been done with such Detail. It's simply perfect.
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on 18 January 2006
As a BC fan since 1988 I can say that this album is excellent. Don't expect many catchy pop tunes - this is serious stuff. Belinda must have taken a knock when she saw the sales figures especially when you consider she co-wrote over half the album. (On nearly all her other albums she played virtually no part in the songwriting). This CD just goes to show that there are great albums out there that were commercial flops.
Buy it - and make sure you play it several times over to appreciate it.
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on 18 March 2014
Real may be my favorite Belinda cd - she wrote and contributed more to this one and the craft shows. I listen to every song, every time I play it and it's great to have the extra cd with the 3 demo songs which are all amazing and the 3 demo versions of Real - personally I prefer the raw version of Wrap My Arms and the angelic singing on Here Comes My Baby too! So glad I got this sent to the USA.
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on 10 July 2011
After the sublime Runaway Horses and its excellent follow-up, Live Your Life Be Free, it was always going to be difficult to deliver another album as polished and popular as they were. So Belinda made a conscious decision to change tack and gave us a different kind of record; at first hearing it may have seemed disappointing, but like all great albums, with repeated listens it begins to give up its riches. There are some songs which appeal immediately, such as the opener Goodbye Day, and first single Big Scary Animal, but there are plenty of slow burners which gradually find their place in your head, such as the brilliant Lay Down Your Arms and One With You.

Belinda's vocals are again full of emotion and soul; she delivers all the songs with real feeling and her voice often sounds like it will crack with the intensity of the performance.

The production is more band-oriented, sounding like an enthusiastic ensemble who are bursting with the enthusiasm you hear when an outfit is being let loose in the studio for the first time. The image is also very different to previous releases; it's like Belinda is consciously trying to transcend the public's perception of her as a Hollywood creation who is being ruthlessly marketed on her (undoubted) glamour. In that sense this is the real Belinda.

The themes are undoubtedly more serious on this record and it has become a favourite which stands out as a very individual release in Belinda's canon.
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