[The Nicks Fix]

San Jose Mercury News

May 8, 1998

"Enchanted: The Enchanted Works of Stevie Nicks"


These are heady days for Stevie Nicks, a rock original. Hipsters such as Courtney Love, Sarah McLachlan and Sheryl Crow are singing Nicks’ praises. Fashion designers Anna Sui and Isaac Mizrahi are giving her accolades. And Nicks is still on a high after taking part in Fleetwood Mac's acclaimed reunion last year. So revisiting Nicks’ best on a new three-CD, 46-track box set devoted to her solo career makes sense.

"Enchanted" makes a strong case for how well Nicks’ ‘80’s music has held up. Tuneful and well-crafted hits like "Stand Back" (her collaboration with an uncredited Prince) and "If Anyone Falls" still come across as engaging.

Long before the Lilith Fair, Madonna or Alanis Morrisette, Nicks (who turns 50 in May) asserted herself on "Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around" (with Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers), her movie songs "Blue Lamp" (her finest non-Mac moment) from "Heavy Metal" and "Violet and Blue" of "Against All Odds," the aggressive "Edge of Seventeen" (here, we get a previously unreleased live version), the hard-rocking "Gold and Braid" (a live performance from the 1981 "Bella Donna" tour, on which Nicks held her own surrounded by members from the E Street Band and the Heartbreakers) and "Reconsider Me" (featuring Don Henley on harmonies).

But "Enchanted" is most valuable for what it reveals. Like Tori Amos’ song-writing, Nicks’ cryptic lyrics have always puzzled nonbelievers yet fascinated those willing to dig deeper. A throwaway song when first buried on 1986’s "American Anthem" soundtrack, the now-resurrected "Battle of the Dragon" is compelling in the context of Nicks’ later admission of a cocaine addiction. "Well I got the message/Stay among the living," she urges. "I can and I will go on."

Disc One’s emphasis on much-needed remastering of her first two solo albums ("Bella Donna" and "The Wild Heart") is essential, and Disc Three is the sets raison d’ętre for its many strong rarities, including the first CD appearance of a 1973 "Buckingham Nicks" track, "Long Distance Winner."

But "Enchanted" may disappoint fans who already own her six solo albums. Disc Two is taken up by cuts from her weakest effort, 1985’s "Rock a Little" (which didn’t rock at all).

Also: Missing are obscure early-‘80s duets "Smiling Islands" (with Robbie Patton) and "I Pretend" (with Sandy Stewart), as well as bootlegged material that die-hards have swapped via the Internet (like "Sorcerer," "Nomad" or her children’s tale, "Goldfish & Ladybug"). Maybe next box set.

-Howard Cohen,
Knight Ridder Newspapers

Thanks to TommyTA for sending this article to The Nicks Fix.

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