Saturday, June 18, 2016

Deborah Gibson - Memory Lane Volume 2 (2005)


Here's the second collection of Debbie Gibson demos. Like the first one, this was privately pressed in a very limited quantity and was only in print briefly. But this one is even harder to find. So once again, I'll extend thanks again to the anonymous donor who contributed this. This one was ripped at a higher quality bitrate than the first volume, but some of the beginning and endings of each tune are a bit rough. Plus, there's no artwork.

(Update: A helpful reader wrote in and supplied the artwork. Thanks!)

Still, beggars can't be choosers and I shouldn't be looking gift horses in the mouth (I'm sure other cliches apply here as well). This disc is insanely rare, and I've never seen it for sale anywhere at anytime.

A lot of the music is pretty great, too. But no artwork means no liner notes and that means I don't know the recording dates for each track. That makes it difficult to assess what's what, since you can't tell at what stage of her career Gibson recorded each song. Still, there are some definite standouts, so I'll discuss them.

First and foremost is "Ton of Bricks," a song Gibson gave to the teen group the Party for their 1990 debut album. The group -- which is best known for its hit cover of the Dokken song "In My Dreams" from its second album (which I posted here) -- originally did "Ton of Bricks" as a somewhat ponderous, downbeat dance track. Here, Gibson presents it as a sort of neo-'50s rocker and it's a zillion times better. Never liked the tune much before, but hearing this recording changed that.

Speaking of the '50s, "Joey" is a similarly successful retro effort, recalling Madonna's 1986 hit "True Blue" stylistically. At the complete other end of the musical spectrum is "Speed  of Light," a fast-paced foray into '80s freestyle dance music. Japanese singer Reimy did a version of this song on her 1988 album Smooth Talk, and it seems to be the first song Gibson placed with an outside artist. But it also would have fit right in on Gibson's first album -- and would have been a better fit than some of the lesser cuts, like "Red Hot" or "Play the Field."

Another early-sounding demo is "Broken Record Machine," which is catchy as heck, but hard to place musically. It's a boppy dance tune, but it's in a major key, so it's not quite freestyle or '80s dance. Maybe Miami Sound Machine was an influence?

"Touch" is the sort of mid-tempo pop-rock tune that made Gibson's second album, Electric Youth, her best effort. This song sounds like it's from around that period and is arguably better than even some of the songs from that album. If there's a contender for a the top "should have been released" track, this one is it.

The demo of "Silence Speaks (A Thousand Words)" isn't all that different than the version that appeared on Electric Youth. It's just a lot less glossy, which makes it sound a bit more sincere -- and makes you wonder if Gibson's songs might have been received better in an era where professional-sounding production was less of a priority.

Finally, there are several ballads here. They don't move me as much as the fast songs but I'm still acclimating to this new influx of Gibson music, so -- who knows? -- they might become favorites in the future. The chorus of "Love's Starting Again" and vocal on "Heart and Soul" are definitely welcome additions to Gibson's catalog, though.

In all, the Memory Lane CDs are actually better than I thought they'd be, with scads of songs that were worthy of release in their day. And once again, if anyone has the artwork to this one and wants to submit it, feel free to get in touch.

Related:
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)
Deborah Gibson - Memory Lane Volume 1 (2004)

Track list:
1. Love's Starting Again
2. Joey
3. Speed of Light
4. Broken Record Machine
5. On and On
6. When I Look at You
7. Heart and Soul
8. Touch
9. Eating to Be Social
10. Silence Speaks (A Thousand Words)
11. Ton of Bricks
12. Everything
13. Behind the Eyes
14. Some People

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