Scandal & Patty Smyth’s “Hands Tied” showcases the Brooklyn-born singer’s power & intensity

By on May 24, 2019

In Night Flight’s “Take Off to Women in Rock II,” which first aired in 1985, announcer Pat Prescott — during her introduction to Scandal & Patty Smyth‘s “Hands Tied” music video — tells us how “the power and intensity of Patty’s voice have propelled her the top of the rock’s recent female vocalists.”

Watch this vintage “Take Off” episode — featuring music videos by Pat Benatar, Tina Turner, the Pointer Sisters, Madonna, Cyndi Lauper, Sheena Easton, Donna Summer, Sheila E., Laura Branigan, the PlasmaticsWendy O. Williams & more — on Night Flight Plus.

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In an interview, the sultry doe-eyed Ms. Smyth told us her mother Betty Smyth — a former trapeze artist who was the one-time manager for legendary guitarist Link Wray — owned and operated a bunch of Greenwich Village clubs and venues in the 1960s, including Café Wha?, the Four Winds, the Gaslight, and the Music Hall (she also ran the Zig Zag).

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Ms. Smyth tells us she’d spent at least four nights a week in those clubs every night — from age six until she was fifteen — before starting her singing career:

“I got exposed to a lot of different kind of music. Then it was kinda like folk, you know, Blues Magoos and Lovin’ Spoonful and things like that… I guess then when I was about nineteen, I called up somebody in Philadelphia who was a friend of mine and said, ‘I wanna sing in a band with you,’ and he went, ‘Okay.'”

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Directed by Jim Yukich, the “Hands Tied” video from 1984 is a pretty straightforward video showing Smyth performing with members of Scandal: guitarists Zack Smith and Keith Mack, keyboardist Benjy King, bassist Ivan Elias and drummer Tommy Price (who took over for Frankie LaRocka after the first album).

Smyth looks pensively out of big windows in what appears to be a penthouse rehearsal room somewhere high atop a NYC skyscraper.

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Despite microphone stands being set up, Ms. Smyth really doesn’t need any amplification, belting out “Hands Tied” at the top of her lungs.

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Read more about Patty Smyth and Scandal below.

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Patricia “Patty” Smyth was born in Brooklyn on June 26, 1957.

She spent her rather bohemian childhood growing up in Gerritsen Beach (ultimately she lived in three of the five NYC boroughs , the other two being Queens and Manhattan).

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Regarding her time spent at her mom’s clubs, Ms. Smyth is quoted, in the band’s official press-kit bio, as saying:

“…As a kid I always knew that I wanted to grow up and be a singer, and I think because I was around performers all the time — I would hang out with them when they came offstage, they would take me to the feast in Little Italy and stuff — so it wasn’t a fantasy, it was a reality, and I think it must have enabled me to be more comfortable onstage.”

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Smyth ended up making her public singing debut at age fifteen at Folk City, another Greenwich Village club, and she began writing songs a year later.

She eventually struck out as a solo artist, accompanying herself on the piano, sometimes performing at Catch A Rising Star in between sets by stand-up comics like Chris Rock, Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David, among others.

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In the bio, Smyth admits to being alienated from the rock ‘n’ roll scene, saying she was into soul music and hated punk rock at first.

In 1981, she was waitressing at a steak house one night when Connecticut-born guitarist Zack Smith phoned her up and asked her to join his band Scandal.

Within a year, they were signed to Columbia Records, releasing their self-titled five-song EP in 1982.

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The EP — which featured a cover of Bryan Adams’ “Win Some, Lose Some” — provided Scandal with a couple of distinctive Top 100 hits — “Goodbye to You” (#65 U.S.) and “Love’s Got a Line On You” (#59 U.S.) — becoming the top-selling EP in the history of Columbia Records.

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Even though MTV played the hell out of their videos, Columbia dragged their feet about releasing their debut full-length, Warrior, for two years (“Hands Tied,” one of the singles that hadn’t been on the EP, charted at #41 U.S.).

They hit the road in ’84 — opening for dozens of bands on Columbia’s roster — but at the end of touring only Smith and Smyth remained.

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Despite the fact that Warrior charted at #7 on the Billboard pop charts and sold over a million copies, Scandal didn’t last too much longer, calling it quits in 1985, around the same time “Take Off to Women in Rock II” was airing for the first time.

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Also in 1985, Smyth gave birth to her daughter, Ruby, marrying Ruby’s dad Richard Hell later that same year.

Their marriage lasted just two years, though, and they were divorced right around the time Patty was releasing her first solo album, 1987’s Never Enough.

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Her self-titled 1992 album featured “Sometimes Love Just Ain’t Enough,” a duet with Don Henley, which became her biggest hit (#2 on Billboard‘s Hot 100 for six consecutive weeks).

Ms Smyth had previously sung backing vocals on two of Henley’s hits, “All She Wants to Do Is Dance,” and “Sunset Grill.”

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In 1997, Ms. Smyth married famous temper tantrum-throwing tennis player John McEnroe, and in addition to being a mom she’s enjoyed a long career as a Oscar- and Grammy-nominated performer and singer.

Oh, and Patty also turned down the opportunity to join Van Halen, but that’s a story for a future blog.

Watch Night Flight’s “Take Off to Women in Rock II” on Night Flight Plus.

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About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.