At the time, conventional wisdom was that Vanity was strictly a pretty face with no talent. Personal problems derailed her career and she never had an opportunity to demonstrate if she had anything to offer beyond her good looks. However, her two albums of mid-80s pop/r&b froth have endured surprisingly well. I am still impressed by how lovely her voice sounds on these recordings. As lead face for the trio Vanity 6 she was cast as the agressively sexual, forthright temptress. For some reason the sweetness in her voice didn't really come across the way it does on the solo albums. Wild Animal was her 1985 solo debut on Motown. Motown hoped to capitalize on her Prince connection (and her gorgeousness) to make Vanity a star. As such, Motown had major crossover aspirations for Vanity and Wild Animal is very synthesized and pop-oriented. At just 7 tracks it's pretty lean but Vanity was more about image than substance. For her part, Vanity was game and she could coo like an innocent schoolgirl or simulate an orgasmic explosion right on cue. First single "Pretty Mess" was, and is, a silly song that was just an excuse for a video featuring Vanity wriggling about like she was on a Playboy photo shoot. "Mechanical Emotion", on the other hand, is ace from top-to-bottom. The undulating keyboard, insistent bass and hand-clap percussion created a groove that is hard to resist even now. The vocal interplay with equally out-sized personality Morris Day is cute. "Mechanical Emotion" is still one of my favorite 80's dance tracks. My favorite here is the ballad-ish "Samuelle". Although it has a propulsive rhythm track that is somewhat similar to Diana Ross' "Pieces Of Ice", it features a beautiful, unhurried vocal that showed Vanity held promise as a vocalist. The other fun moment here is "Strap it On, Robbie." This rock-oriented dance track is the most direct come-on on Wild Animal and I'm still so naive I can't figure out what she's getting at -- but I know it's naughty. The follow-up Skin On Skin was a more solid album.
Side One Flippin' Out Pretty Mess Samuelle Strap It On, Robbie
Side Two Wild Animal Mechanical Emotion Crazy Maybe