Cyndi Lauper’s debut disc as a solo artist, 1983’s She’s So Unusual, is testament to the rigors and rewards of the music business. No overnight sensation, she’d been singing around New York for a decade when she finally broke through — at age 30 — with her solo debut, which sold five million copies, yielded several hit singles and made Lauper an early MTV fixture.
But she was slow to respond with new recordings, she made movie misfires and she stalled as an artist after that.
Does that change anything about She’s So Unusual? Not a bit. It’s still a classic ’80s pop album. And its new 30th Anniversary Celebration is a welcome treat from Sony Legacy, with the remastered album joined by new remixes of its songs and an entire nine-track second disc of demos, rehearsals, a live track and a B-side.
As much as I love She’s So Unusual and songs like the ultimate Lauper anthem of Girls Just Want To Have Fun, the beautiful ballads Time After Time and All Through the Night, the impertinent sexuality of She Bop and the raucous rock of Money Changes Everything (a song whose live video was shot at Houston’s Summit), it’s the bonus disc that really grabs me this time around.
An early demo of Girls Just Want to Have Fun takes a straight-ahead rock bent driven by lead guitars; after starts and stops, All Through the Night arises in a spare but enchanting rehearsal; and Lauper provides some awesome belting for a song recorded for the album but unreleased, Rules and Regulations.
Also rocking are demos for Money Changes Everything and Girls Just Want to have Fun, while ’60s girl-group influenced rocker Right Track Wrong Train is one of those B-sides that would make you feel special having it on a 45 when almost no one else had heard it. Helluva song.
Rounding out the bonus disc are a live Witness from an ’84 Boston show; a remix of She Bop; and a rough “work in progress” mix of Time After Time.
Honestly, the new remixes on the main disc don’t do much for me. But the rest of this reissue of an album well worth celebrating hits the mark. If I had only a few “desert island” LPs from the ’80s, this would be one of them. Better yet, its 30th Anniversary Celebration would be.
— Bruce Westbrook