Tuesday, June 14, 2016
Deborah Gibson - Memory Lane Volume 1 (2004)
It's not an exaggeration to say that Debbie Gibson's Memory Lane CDs are impossible to find. These two collections of her demo recordings have been out of print for over a decade and are not available anywhere -- not on eBay, not on Amazon.com, and not through Gibson, who originally sold them herself on her old Web site.
Most rare music shows up somewhere every once in a while. Not these CDs. In fact, there's so little information on them online that when I did searches for Memory Lane, I was directed back to this very blog, since I'd previously mentioned them.
But here's some good news about all this. I was able to procure the music on both CDs thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor. This is the first volume.
The Memory Lane CDs bring together over 30 of Gibson's home recordings. She put them out herself in 2004 and 2005 on her own Golden Egg label and from what I gather, they were only on sale for a very brief time period. Since the disc on the first volume is labeled "Special Collector's Edition," I assume that means they were pressed in a limited run.
This first volume features demos that span the years 1983 to 1999. Lots of songs are first-rate, especially "What U Mean 2 Me" and "What If?" both of which sound like they could have been hits. Only one track ever ended up on an official album and that's "Who Loves Ya Baby?" which was the leadoff cut on Electric Youth. "'Til You Come Back Again" is probably the second most familiar track because Gibson performed it live at some of her shows in 1989.
There are also some amusing tracks from when Gibson was a young teen. The best one is probably the boppy lead-off cut, "Settle the Score," which was recorded way back in 1983 and shows that Gibson's musical style was already pretty much formed when she was 13. A lot of the collection is made up piano ballads that put Gibson's Billy Joel/Elton John influences on full display -- something that wasn't always evident from her albums.
I can understand why people who don't know Gibson's music well wondering why there is all this fuss over a teen idol from yesteryear. But Gibson was actually a very sophisticated songwriter who got saddled with a teen image she never could completely shake. To make my point further, I'm going to reprint something I wrote in an earlier post because it's a pretty good assessment of her talents (if I do say so myself):
"She's actually a far sharper writer (and better performer) than those who dismiss her as a mere bubblegum act would have you believe. Had she come along ten years later, she'd have been able to forge a major career from her initial dance hits the way Britney, Christina, Justin, and others did. But the '80s were not a kind era for teen pop stars. As in earlier eras, they got 18 months in the spotlight if they were lucky."
This rip of Memory Lane Volume 1 isn't high quality, but considering how obscure it is, I don't consider that a big deal. On the plus side, I dug up the album art, which includes liner notes where Gibson writes a few words about each tune. Because of that, I was able to tag the tracks properly, marking the year in which each one was recorded.
Unfortunately, I've had no luck finding any of the CD art for Volume 2. I don't even have a decent sized cover image. Does anyone have any of that artwork? If so, please get in touch. I'll leave this post up a few days before I chime in with words about Volume 2, because I'd like to have the whole shebang before I do.
Debbie Gibson - 'Out of the Blue'-Era 7-Inch Singles: A's and B's (1987-88)
Debbie Gibson - 12-Inch Singles (1986-88)
Debbie Gibson - The Alternate Electric Youth (1989)
1. Settle The Score
3. Be My Guy
4. Who Loves Ya Baby?
7. 'Til You Come Back Again
8. What U Mean 2 Me
10. Back Of My Mind
11. Different Time
12. That Way
13. What If?
14. Run To Her
15. Any Other Man
17. Taken By You
18. Feels So Right
19. Until You're All Mine