Crowd of Full Pockets

Movie and Music Analysis from One Lacking Any Credentials to Provide It

“Faster Than the Speed of Night” by Bonnie Tyler

Really, the best thing about this song is the title, because “Faster Than the Speed of Night” is a great title, which I’m sure is why it was the title track of the album. It’s also very Steinman: a gothic, fantastic, slightly altered version of something normal that vaguely suggests vampirism.

The song opens with a lightning-speed Roy Bittan piano line that has always sounded very Mozart to me. Cymbal crashes, booming Max Weinberg drums, and distorted power chords then join in, and the song immediately sounds like something out of Bat out of Hell. Bonnie Tyler’s typical raspy, booming vocals finish it off. The sound really doesn’t change from that point on–some choir-like backing vocals, some synthesizer bits, and some lead guitar fills punctuate matters, but those are really the only changes until a high-pitched ride out vocal that sounds like Rory Dodd. The song really sounds like something from Bat out of Hell that’s missing half of the lead guitars and has Bonnie Tyler doing her best Meat Loaf impersonation.

The lyrics are definitely Steinman, filled with celestial references and mentions of music, youth, and time passing, but this isn’t one of his deeper moments. It’s definitely a statement to make Bonnie Tyler, a woman in 1983, the, so to speak, aggressor the way she is, saying things like “You’re such a pretty boy/Let me show you what to do, and you’ll do it.” He’s repeating the theme that sex can be its own end, saying, “It’s all we ever wanted and all we’ll ever need,” but the only real point he’s making is really just made by Tyler being the lead vocal. I also rather assume that the references to running out of time to have sex before the morning are all from this song having been intended for another version of what became Bat out of Hell: The Musical, because I can’t make some grander sense of them.

While I have to admit that I still am not a fan of Tyler’s voice, I think this song actually uses her voice better than “Total Eclipse of the Heart.” Her shouting hoarseness does indeed portray heartbreak in the more famous song, but this one really uses it to convey a level of impatience and at least borderline (if not across that border) threat. It would be easy for this lyric to come across as pleading for sex, but I think her vocal makes it come across more as a demand with an implied threat.

For me, this song has always been a little strange. I really like the piano riff at the heard of the song. I really like the overall sound. But it just doesn’t quite come together into something more. It’s a great song, but it feels to me like it’s missing something that Steinman’s best works, including both of the other songs he wrote that would be released in 1983, have. It feels like Todd Rundgren playing guitar would have added a lot, but I don’t think that’s all that’s missing, so I’m just not sure what keeps this from being among his best works for me.

Notes on Faster than the Speed of Night Album

  • I absolutely love the arrangement of “Have You Ever Seen the Rain?” and so wish I liked Tyler’s voice more just for that.
  • It’s become a popular fact to point out, but “Getting So Excited” includes Steinman playing a “seductive female voice” (that I always thought was clearly him) saying, “I’d do anything for love, but I won’t do that,” but that little but of ex-post-facto joy is the only thing I like at all about that song.
  • There are definitely Steinman trademarks that appear all over the album, like the booming drums and sharp piano (he did bring in Bittan and Weinberg again, after all). However, it still sounds very thoroughly ’80s in a way that seems impossible for something not filled to the brim with synthesizers and drum machines.
  • I’m a Blue Öyster Cult fan, and I have to admit I do actually enjoy ‘Goin’ through the Motions” in general. This version works surprisingly well except for the weird children’s chant opening and closing. It’s also the cleanest vocal I’ve ever heard from Bonnie Tyler, which is probably not a coincidence.
  • “Tears” and “Take Me Back” sound almost creepily like imitation Steinman songs. I would probably never go out of my way to listen to them, but they’re fine and they make the two actual Steinman compositions feel like they belong.
  • I don’t by any means hate this version of “Straight from the Heart,” but I think it’s a song that benefits from being smaller, which is, needless to say, not what Steinman does with anything. Bonnie Tyler is an upgrade over Bryan Adams vocally, so I think it still works, but I think it could be better.
  • It’s a small detail but one I hadn’t noticed before–“Faster than the Speed of Night” credits “additional guitars” to Martin Briley, who would have a solo hit almost immediately after with “The Salt in My Tears,” a song I still enjoy.






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