Thursday, January 19, 2017
Debbie Gibson - Acoustic Live (1991)
So what were you doing June 8, 1991? Bruce Springsteen was getting married. I was on a first date with a woman who would become my wife. Meanwhile, Debbie Gibson was overseas, on her way to becoming one of those American performers who was "big in Japan."
Here third album, Anything Is Possible, had come out a few months earlier and was considered a commercial disappointment. Not only had it failed to equal the #1 chart placing of her previous effort, Electric Youth, but several of the singles pulled from it didn't make the charts at all. This was something that had never before happened in Gibson's career.
Undeterred by her dwindling American audience, she set off for Japan where her music was still appreciated (and would be for decades after). Her Japanese fans also apparently didn't expect the song-and-dance stage shows demanded by American ones, so Gibson was able to play some solo piano gigs there. One of them was this concert, which was recorded for radio.
This broadcast is a total rarity. It's never been circulated and no song from it has ever been put on YouTube as far as I can tell. In fact, there's pretty much no evidence of it at all on the Web. I found this out when I tried to locate a photo from the show. There are no pics. I ended up creating a "cover," so to speak, by using a still from a Japanese TV performance that Gibson did around the same time.
The only reason I even know about this concert is because Debbie Gibson authority "Scott from Australia" saw some of my previous posts on her and sent this along to me. Scott is also responsible for a lot of the music featured on a previous Gibson compilation I put together, so let's give him a metaphorical round of applause.
This set of tracks came from a long file with very average sound quality. But I like to do sound editing, so edited the file into separate songs, then EQ'd it properly to bring the sound up to snuff. I also added in tags. I don't want y'all to think I'm just sitting around; quite a bit of work goes into this stuff. Most of it, anyway.
Getting back to Debbie Gibson: Had she done a solo show like this a few years later, it would have been called "unplugged," a word that MTV popularized through its TV show of the same name. But this was before that, so this show was simply called Acoustic Live.
And, as these things go, this is pretty damned good. If anyone needed proof that Gibson could sing and play without electronic musical arrangements, this is it. Her voice is crystal clear and I don't hear any weak notes or substandard performances. As for her keyboard playing, she was a actually classically-trained pianist and it shows in this performance. That's evident on some of her own tunes like "One Hand, One Heart," but it really comes to the fore on the "Billy Joel Medley," where she throws in snippets of his "Prelude" and "Root Beer Rag" at the end -- both of which are difficult to play.
(In case you're wondering "Why Billy Joel?" it's because Gibson is a lifelong Joel fanatic and grew up playing his songs on piano. Also, Gibson is from Long Island and so is Joel. On Long Island they think about Billy Joel the way the rest of us think about Paul McCartney. Trust me on this one; I lived on "the Island" for almost a decade.)
There's also a treasure trove of rare Gibson songs here. She does three ballads from the mellow second half of her third album, Anything Is Possible, and the strength of the ballad "Try" makes me wonder if the song wouldn't have been better served with a more sparse, piano-based arrangement on the album. There's also the non-album B-Side "So Close To Forever," the Japan-only single "Without You," the aforementioned Billy Joel medley, and a solo cover of Elton John's "Crocodile Rock."
I've purposely kept the music on this blog as wide-ranging as possible. There is no focus, which is the way I like it because it reflects the way I've always listed to music.
But with this post I think I can safely say that my blog now features the biggest collection of Debbie Gibson rarities anywhere. Some of you might think that's a questionable goal to have achieved. But too bad. Because not only do I like it, I'm tempted to advertise it in the title of this blog -- if only to annoy rock purists who seem to have replaced the religious orthodoxies of the old days with musical ones for today. In other words, I'll like what I wanna like, trends and critics be damned.
Debbie Gibson - 12-Inch Singles (1986-88)
Debbie Gibson - The Alternate Electric Youth (1989)
Deborah Gibson - Memory Lane Volume 1 (2004)
Deborah Gibson - Memory Lane Volume 2 (2005)
Debbie Gibson - Rarities (1990-1999)
Chris Cuevas - Somehow, Someway (1991)
Various Artists - The Songs Debbie Gibson Gave Away (1988-92)
1. Introduction and Commercial
3. One Hand, One Heart
5. Billy Joel Medley:
a. Piano Man;
b. New York State Of Mind;
c. This Night;
d. Only The Good Die Young;
e. Leave A Tender Moment Alone;
g. Root Beer Rag
6. Another Brick Falls
7. Without You
9. Foolish Beat
10. Will You Love Me Tomorrow
11. Lost In Your Eyes
12. So Close To Forever
13. Crocodile Rock