Gordo's Album Reviews


Cyndi live at Foxwoods in Ledyard CT, November 1995

 

Thanks Ţórunn!

BLUE ANGEL (1980)

This was Cyndi's first record before she made it famous with her solo career. The one, as she's referred to it, that went "lead" (as opposed to gold or platinum). It has a quasi-retro 50s feel to it done in a sorta contemporary late-70s/early-80s way. It's a solid effort and it's obvious Cyndi put everything she had into it at the time. Looking at it in retrospect it's easy to see the burgeoning talent in the lead singer, but it's understandable how it was somewhat dismissed at the time of it's release. The songs, while having moments of brilliance interspersed in them, normally with a standout chorus or bridge here or there, are generally mediocre and don't exactly leap out at you. Also, the production is very sparse. A good dose of compression and a beefier sounding guitar could've done wonders for this record, I think. Still, as I said, it's still quite a solid album and I think any Cyndi fan would relish the chance to hear all these early efforts even if they're somewhat stylistically removed from what she's known for. Shame on Polydor for not reissuing this on CD, but oh well, you should own a turntable anyway!! Viva la vinyl!!
Rate: 7 / 10

SHE'S SO UNUSUAL (1984)

The album that made Cyndi a superstar.  I understand this was her career-defining record and is undoubtedly most peoples' favorite (probably because this is the only one they've heard).  I, however, thought her later material far surpassed her early material.  Don't get me wrong, there are some outstanding songs here...Time After Time and All Through The Night are among my all-time favorite Cyndi songs and no one can deny this album is thoroughly classic, but in my opinion, it doesn't have the depth and sophistication that she accumulated with each subsequent release.  Essential, but not her best.
Rate: 7 / 10

TRUE COLORS (1986)

This album took a little while to grow on me.   Having previously heard the title track, my expectations were big.  Too big, perhaps.  You can't expect an album full of songs as profoundly beautiful and incredibly special as True Colors.  Once I accepted the album for what it was, however, the songs grew on me.  The title track and The Faraway Nearby are the two standouts on this album for me, but Calm Inside The Storm and Boy Blue are classics in the true Cyndi style.  I thought Maybe He'll Know was a weak inclusion here, more suited to her Blue Angel days, and the version of What's Going On that was on Twelve Deadly Cyns was better than this earlier one.  Also, nothing was helped by the overall thin sound.  I'd love to hear this album produced like A Night To Remember.
Rate: 7 / 10

A NIGHT TO REMEMBER (1989)

I was totally expecting to hate this record.   I didn't like the cover at all, there was only one song I knew on it, and it was her third album...not a promising set of conditions.  Wasn't I surprised when I loved it!  This is a great album.  There's only one song I don't like on here: Dancing With A Stranger.  Everything else I love.  Heading West, Unconditional Love and I Don't Want To Be Your Friend are some of the best songs she's ever done.  It is well known that Cyndi doesn't like this album.  She's even referred to it as a "godforsaken dull record."  I can understand her opinion to a point, particularly when I see the videos and performances associated with it.  I definitely get the impression that she was a bit lost and going through a difficult time.   However, visuals aside, this was definitely a giant step forward for her, musically.  This was the album where I thought she started showing a little more sophistication.  The production is superb (unlike the thin sound she got on True Colors).  This is the album where I think she started to shake off a little of the teenybopper pixie image and really develop as a truly class act.  Perhaps this album is so tainted for Cyndi because of all the personal shit she was going through at the time that she cannot look at the music objectively and appreciate it for what a good album it is.
Rate: 9 / 10

HAT FULL OF
STARS (1993)

This is such a special record.  It just glows.  To me, this was her defining record.  This is where I think you see the real Cyndi Lauper.  You truly get a sense that she was emerging from something here...maybe a failed relationship or something.  It's much more personal and serious than her previous records, but it's also more joyful and uplifting at the same time.   It's an amazing juxtaposition of dark and light.  Product Of Misery should have been a huge hit for her.  It is as good a pop song as anything she's ever done.   Who Let In The Rain is so sadly beautiful (and the video is positively breathtaking).  Sally's Pigeons is unbelievable.  This album is shockingly good.   By the end of it you've gone through almost every emotion and you're left a little dazed.  Definitely her most special record.
Rate: 9˝ / 10

TWELVE DEADLY CYNS...AND THEN SOME (1995)

Well, only a few new songs to talk about here, but they're worth talking about.  I'm Gonna Be Strong was a cover from her Blue Angel days and she performed it amazingly back then, but this version takes it a step further.   I think this, more than any other song, really shows off what she is capable of vocally.  Truly, truly outstanding!  As Arthur Neilson says, she can sing her brains out.  Another (sort of) new song is the remake of Girls Just Wanna Have Fun (prefixed with Hey Now and given a reggae treatment).  I actually don't care for the original version of this song and while I think this is a little better, I could take or leave this.  Come On Home is a little gem tacked on to the end of the disc.  I think this song could make me feel good under any conceivable situation.  It's so friendly and pleasant, so welcoming.  It really captures the essence of Cyndi for me.  My only gripe with this record (and it's a big gripe) is the glaring omission of The World Is Stone.  Why the hell isn't that on here???!!!   Damn!  One of the best songs ever and it's not here.  Terribly shameful.   Anyway, this is a good overview of her hits from 1984-1994 and a perfect introduction to the world of Cyn for the unenlightened.
Rate: 8 / 10

SISTERS OF AVALON (1996)

Easily my favorite Cyndi Lauper album (thus far).  Anyone who knows me knows I'm partial to her softer songs and this album is full of 'em.  This album has a very dark, moody, sparkling quality to it (especially the second half of it)...something you wouldn't really expect to suit her very well.   Well, once again, as is her custom, she expands her talents and boundaries and pulls it off supremely. A good amount of kudos must be given also to Jan Pulsford, who co-wrote all but two songs here.  This album is superb!  I won't bore you by gushing over every song (go to my songs page if you want to be subjected to that), but suffice it to say I love every song here except The Ballad Of Cleo & Joe (ironically, the most un-ballady song on the record).  I don't know how she's going to top this record, but if Water's Edge (the only new song I've heard thus far) is any indication of the new stuff, there might just be a chance.
Rate: 10 / 10

MERRY CHRISTMAS... HAVE A NICE LIFE (1998)

A very enjoyable album that will certainly add to the spirit of anyone's Christmas cheer.  Let me start off saying that I'm not really into covers.  Only very rarely do they capture the essence and specialness of the original version, and while Cyndi's versions of yuletide favorites such as Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree, Three Ships, and Silent Night are really really good, it's a hopeless endeavor to top the classic versions.  Instead, what makes this album so great is all the originals on here.  7 out of the 11 songs here are originals...pretty unusual for a Christmas record and these are my favorite songs on the album (although Feels Like Christmas was previously released on Hat Full Of Stars and I am so used to hearing it in the context of that album that I always skip by it here).  The leading track, Home On Christmas Day, is an instantly lovable song, pleasant and simple.  Another one of my favorites is First Lullaby which positively gushes with a mother's love for her baby (in this case the barely year-old Declyn).  December Child (which is sounds more like a lullaby than the previous song) could be a classic for the ages.  It's as gentle, soothing & evocative as Silent Night, a profound feeling that is not easily duplicated.  Very good album all around, but the originals are the best.
Rate: 8 / 10
Track listing:  Right Track Wrong Train, Goonies R Good Enough, Heading For The Moon, Hole In My Heart, Unabbreviated Love, Cold Sky, Put On Your Green Shoes, The World Is Stone, You Have To Learn To Live Alone, Cold, I'm Gonna Be Strong, Come On Home, White Man's Melody, I Want A Mom That Will Last Forever, What A Thrill

UNABBREVIATED COLLECTION (2000)

OK, this isn't a real release and probably shouldn't be included here, but this is so great it just has to be.  As it says on the back, this is a collection of hard to find and non-album tracks from 1983-2000 and as far as I can tell contains all the significant studio tracks not found on her 5 official studio albums (hover over the picture to view track listing).  For me this is a dream come true.  I'm not a record collector and have no desire to hunt down obscure singles and compilation albums at great expense, but I had no idea what I was missing.   I had only previously heard 5 of the 15 tracks here and I was so happy to hear so many great new songs!  This is sequenced in chronological order with at least one song from each period of her career and it's interesting to follow her progression so fluidly from the very beginning to the very end.  Speaking of the very end, I just have to say that her voice has not showed signs of aging at all.  The last song here is from 2000 and she sounds as beautiful as ever.  This collection should be mass marketed.  These "missing links" are an essential part of her recorded output.  I desperately needed it and I imagine many other loyal Cyndi fans do as well...whether they know it or not!  Awesome!!
Rate: 9 / 10
Thanks John!

SHINE (2001)

OK, another case of "should or should this not be included?"  This isn't officially released yet, but in my opinion, the album's done and it's in my heart, so there.  I didn't know how she was going to top Sisters Of Avalon (see review above) and it was a hard question for me to answer: did she?  Well, I've given it a lot of thought and I have to honestly say, not quite.  Despite the edge these songs have because they're new and fresh, I pride myself on my objectivity and have to be honest with myself, and honestly, I think SOA is a teeny, tiny bit better overall.  OK, having said that, this is still a fantastic album.  A truly brilliant piece of pure Cynth-gold.  There's more variety here than on SOA.  There's rockers, poppers, dancers, ballads, and some stuff which just doesn't fit into a little, one-word category.  I think this album is truly another achievement for Cyndi.  She's an artist with such integrity, still putting everything she has into her writing and performing, unfazed by her new position on an independent label.   Well, with the opening slot for Cher, the VH1 BTM special, not to mention the inevitable impending 80s nostalgia factor, I really think Cyndi's going to be getting a hell of a lot of much-deserved attention soon and she will certainly shine as brilliantly as she's done at every step in her career thus far.  Careful not to blind 'em Cyn!!!
Rate: 9˝ / 10

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