September 28, 1981 12:00 PM

Madeleine Marks

She was born in New York, raised in L.A. and schooled briefly in Boston (as a theater arts major at Emerson College). She lists her favorite singers as Aretha Franklin, Teddy Pendergrass, Linda Ronstadt and Frank Sinatra. So what style does she use on her first record? Country & Western, of course. The musical carpetbagging is, for once, forgivable. For one thing, Marks landed her contract by answering an open audition in Hollywood, where she was working as a secretary and singing with small bands. (It was producer George Tobin who packaged her, complete with long-hair-and-blue-jeans cover picture.) For another, without affecting a drawl or twang, Marks is a terrific country rock singer, with a sprightly attack, penetrating voice and emotional force that make her worthy competition for Rosanne Cash, Charly McClain and Juice Newton. The material, much of it by Mike Piccirillo and Gary Goetzman, is citified C&W but spirited and literate. Tear Me Apart is a vibrant, gutty rocker. And Marks does a nicely unbridled version of the old Buddy Holly hit Maybe Baby. If this splendid album helps her find a niche with the silver-belt-buckle-and-steel-guitar crowd, Madeleine may come to be grateful for another big break she didn’t get: She once tried out for and was rejected by Bette Midler’s Harlettes.

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