Helen Reddy, I Am Woman

Neal Pollack

By Neal Pollack

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

I Am Woman (Digital Only)

Helen Reddy

In a world where Burt Bacharach and Tony Bennett have been rehabilitated as masters of songcraft and Karen Carpenter's reputation grows with the passage of time, why not Helen Reddy? It's hard to remember that, for four years in the '70s, Reddy stood at the top of the charts by belting out feminist anthems like "I Am Woman," "Delta Dawn," "Angie Dear" and "You and Me Against the World." Alice Cooper dubbed her the "queen of housewife rock & roll" while another critic called her "the hip Julie Andrews."

Never considered cool even in her heyday, Reddy's reputation continued to dive in the '80s and '90s as she reinvented her career as a showtunes revival singer in London's West End. But this record, released six years ago, warrants a reconsideration that hasn't yet arrived. Along with the aforementioned hits, her cover of "Fool on the Hill" works far better than it should, and her song "Candle on the Water," from the long-forgotten Pete's Dragon soundtrack, sounds as good as anything left over from the golden age of soft rock. The songs still sound good, and with a properly managed revival, Reddy could reign again. If Barry Manilow can still walk the earth and Nancy Sinatra draws crowds of hipsters, then Reddy's time is definitely nigh.