Eyeing the May 3 release of her fifth solo album, "Street Angel," Stevie Nicks views her status in the music industry with a seasoned, philosophical sensibility--and a dash of good humor.
"I have no false illusions," she says with a chuckle. "I know that I'm like this little dinosaurette, truckin' and stompin' around. And you know, every once in a while I have to come out and have tea with my fellow dinosaurettes, Ann and Nancy [Wilson] and Pat [Benetar]. But I am not going anywhere. I've earned my place as an enduring woman in rock'n'roll, and I'm not about to give it up--not as long as I still feel inspired by music."
Actually, Nicks' rich musical history is a key element in the promotional campaign behind her latest effort for the Atlantic Records' Modern imprint. At a time when veteran rockers are sprucing up their sound and image to link up the current trends, "Street Angel" shows Nicks in classic and familiar form. She co-produced the set with Thom Panunzio, weaving her signature pop poetry into familiar fabric of steady rock rhythms and fluttering melodies.
Val Azzoli, executive VP/GM of Atlantic Records, says the release "will be a dream to work. Album rock radio loves Stevie Nicks--and so does AC and pop. The direction is clear with a record like this. You give them a great song, do a beautiful video for VH-1 and MTV. You let the word out, and a lot of people are instantly interested."
Retailers appear to agree. Neil Connor, senior buyer for Record Runner in San Francisco, says he has been answering consumer requests for "Street Angel" for months now. "As soon as people started to catch wind that Stevie Nicks had something new coming, they started popping into the store and phoning regularly to see if it had arrived. Her fans are really devoted. This record cannot come out soon enough for them."
Nicks fans have not only been phoning retailers. According to Paul Fishkin, Modern's president and co-founder, the label gets "an extraordinary amount of fans calling daily, wanting to know how Stevie is doing and when the record will be released."
He adds that Nicks has captured a "particular sound and feeling that was a trademark of her earlier records, yet fits perfectly with today's market. 'Street Angel' will sit quite nicely next to the numerous multiplatinum, 25-plus artist successes that we have seen recently on the charts."
While everyone handicaps and interprets Nicks' musical choices, the artist herself says she simply does what comes naturally. "You can't calculate art and stories and life experiences--or, at least, I can't. It has to be real or it just doesn't. I also think people come to expect certain things from you after a while. They want you to be honest and sincere with them, and they want to connect with you. It's like they're visiting an old friend. They love all of those beautiful old shawls and platform boots, and so do I."
In assembling "Street Angel," Nicks visited with a number of her own old friends, using such veteran session players as Waddy Wachtel and Kenny Aronoff, as well as Heartbreakers Benmont Tench and Mike Campbell, who co-wrote the first single, "Blue Denim."
"This album reminds me of when I was manager with Bonnie Raitt," says Atlantic Records president Danny Goldberg. "You have an artist who is still an extremely recognizable figure, and she has a reservoir of good will from a lot of different stations. She is also someone with whom people continue to have a strong emotional connection. This album proves that she's really grown and matured as an artist. Our job is to market this album to best reflect that."
To that end, Atlantic is forging a multimedia campaign that focuses as much on television and print as it does on radio. "Blue Denim" arrives April 11 at album rock radio, with add dates at AC and top 40 formats tentatively planned for shortly thereafter.
An additional component in the push behind "Street Angel" is a lengthy concert tour. Although no dates have been confirmed, word has it the tour will begin early summer, and will likely take the singer to amphitheaters throughout the U.S. and various parts of Europe.
"I absolutely cannot wait to get back out there," Nicks says. "The fact there are people interested in me coming to play for them means so much to me. The thrill never goes away."
For Doug Morris, co-chairman/co-CEO of the Atlantic Group, the return of Stevie Nicks strikes a personal chord.
"She is the first artist I ever signed to this label," he says, "She holds a very special place in my heart. It's great to see her in shape and ready to roll. I can't wait for her to go back on tour. I'll be at the opening date."
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