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Imagination is Helen Reddy's 14th studio album that was released in 1983 by MCA Records.

TracklistingEdit

  1. Handsome Dudes
  2. Don't Tell Me Tonight
  3. A Winner In Your Eyes
  4. Let's Go Up
  5. Imagination
  6. Looks Like Love
  7. The Way I Feel
  8. Guess You Had To Be There
  9. Yesterday Can't Hurt Me
  10. Heartbeat

Album BackgroundEdit

The path from the planning stages for "Imagination" to its appearance on store shelves was not a smooth one.

A story on Reddy from the September 19, 1981, issue of Billboard detailed some of what she had in mind for this second MCA project. According to her: "'I'll work on my next album around the end of the year or in January or February so it'll be ready for an Easter [1982] release,'."

However, the album wasn't released until 1983. Reddy also told Billboard that "Joel Diamond, who produced the first MCA project, will also handle production on the next LP," but the job went to Joe Wissert instead.

In the liner notes of Reddy's 1996 compilation CD, "When I Dream", Brian Giorgi explains that the changes in the music industry in 1983 that sealed the fate of this album were not just in top 40 radio programming.

According to Giorgi: "Changes were also taking place within her record company. The top level management which had brought her to MCA Records was gone."

Reddy concurred, saying: "Between the time of recording and the time of release of the Imagination album there was a major shakeup in the executive offices at MCA Records" and instead of the person "who would have known how to market and promote the new album to my demographic, I was now dealing with someone of much lower stature in the industry."

Reddy found out how much lower when the album arrived in stores, recalling:

"The day that the Imagination album was released I went to Tower Records in Westwood to see what sort of promotion MCA was doing. At the entrance to the store I ran into a young couple who had written one of the songs on the album. They were anxious to buy a copy. It took the three of us, searching independently, 15 minutes to find one. There were no store displays of any kind. It was not filed under New Releases. It was not to be found under my name in the pop female vocal section or any other category. My new album was finally located in the back of the store in a bin marked Nostalgia and filed under the letter R. It had been successfully "buried."

Also, at the time, Reddy was divorcing her husband Jeff Wald (who had also been her manager since the late 1960s) and was in a custody dispute over their then-10-year-old son which became of greater interest to entertainment reporters.

According to Reddy: "In preparation for the release of the album, my publicist had arranged for an article in People magazine. I had gone to their photographer's studio to have pictures taken to accompany the story."

Later when Reddy flew to New York for what was to be a promotional appearance on Good Morning America, the news of the divorce got out.

She said: "While I was in the air, the latest edition of People magazine was hitting the stands. I didn't know it yet, but the interview intended as publicity for the album was now a cover story, complete with a smiling picture of me, on 'Hollywood's Dirtiest Custody Case.'"

On the way from the airport to the studio for the Good Morning America interview, Reddy received a call from the show's talent coordinator. She said:

"I had already done the customary pre-interview over the phone from L.A.... I had told her I would be happy to discuss anything except the custody case because a gag order had been placed on those concerned. If I were to discuss the subject in any way, I would be in contempt of court."

Nevertheless, "Good Morning America" was insistent on taking advantage of the opportunity to discuss the split.

Reddy said: "The talent coordinator informed me that there was no point in my coming on the show if I wasn't going to talk about the custody battle because 'our viewers don't care about your music. They just want to hear about your personal life.'"

Reddy had the driver turned around and take her back to the airport. She said, "I needed to find another way to earn a living. I couldn't do this anymore." Reddy wouldn't record another album for seven years.

Critical ReceptionEdit

Allmusic's Joe Viglione had extensive retrospective praise for the album, saying: "The Dane Jeffries title track might as well be The Go-Go's or Missing Persons; it's a really great new wave pop tune, served up on a vinyl 12-inch with an extended dance remix for good measure."

He emphasized that this update in her sound has expanded Reddy artistically: "Side two is more of this new-styled radio pop, and both 'Looks Like Love' and 'The Way I Feel' are among the best work Helen Reddy has ever created. Both songs should have been huge hits, and the entire album is more sophisticated in idea and execution than any that came before except, perhaps, Live in London."

On Reddy's recording of what became Don Johnson's 1986 hits song "Heartbeat", he wrote: "It's another snappy, moving, modern-sounding delight" and concluded, "With superb songwriting, crisp production, and her best rock performance on record, Imagination is one of Helen Reddy's finest albums. Not as popular as those which contained her chart hits, Imagination is worth seeking out. It's a sleeper that deserves another shot at success."

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