CD Review: Cyndi Lauper – She’s So Unusual (30th Anniversary Edition)
It’s hard to explain to anyone who wasn’t there just how big a deal Cyndi Lauper was in the early 80s.
She seemed to have one hit single after another on the radio and on MTV; she contributed the theme song to one of the most beloved children’s films of the era; and even guested as a referee as the very first Wrestlemania. Before Madonna came to dominance, Cyndi was the diva for the 80s, and one of the very first artists to ride the MTV wave to epic mainstream success.
But Cyndi wasn’t an overnight sensation because of her wacky persona and out-there looks (although those helped). No, she made it big simply because her first album, She’s So Unusual, is a goddamn masterpiece. A masterfully produced slice of radio-friendly new wave, it was mainstream enough to appeal to the middle-aged baby boomers of the era; quirky enough to catch the eye of left-of-center teenagers; and fun enough to lure in the pre-teen youngsters who were just as enamored with Cyndi’s wild looks as they were her music.
Cyndi’s stay in the mainstream may have just been a fleeting moment, but She’s So Unusual remains a near-perfect piece of pop perfection. So it’s great to see that it’s getting the deluxe treatment to celebrate its 30th anniversary.
It’s just too bad that 30th anniversary edition is a big steaming pile of hot garbage.
In case you haven’t already guessed, I don’t have a lot of good things to say about this one, so I might as well get them out of the way now. Firstly, and I do have to hand it to Epic on this one, the remaster certainly sounds great. It doesn’t sound too loud, nor does it sound like they messed about with it in any significant way. It just sounds like a cleaner, clearer version of the original release – which should be the point of any remaster.
Also, some of the bonus tracks are great additions to an already fabulous record. The long unavailable Arthur Baker remix of “She Bop” is a must-hear, and its great to finally have the non-album b-side “Right Train, Wrong Track” on a proper album.
Okay, now where was I? Oh yeah, fuck this record and lazy bastards who put it together.
She’s So Unusual came out right when 12″ singles were coming into their own. As such, many of the singles from the album were given excellent remixes and b-sides that took advantage of the format. But you wouldn’t know it from the anniversary edition, as it excludes nearly every b-side and remix from the era. Yeah, the inclusion of “Right Train, Wrong Track” and that “She Bop” remix is great. But so much more is missing, including
- Extended and instrumental mixes of “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” as well as the “Xtra Fun” b-side
- Live bonus tracks from the 2000 re-issue (“Money Changes Everything,” “She Bop” and “All Through The Night”)
- Dance and dub remixes of “Goonies ‘R’ Good Enough”
And god knows what else. That’s just what I know of off the top of my head since I have all those 12″ singles in my personal record collection. So where the hell are they? There’s really not an excuse for such a drastic oversight. It’s just pathetic and insulting. If they couldn’t have located or secured the rights to those mixes, then they just shouldn’t have bothered with this release at all. Calling this a “30th Anniversary Celebration” and not including the tracks that people want the most is a clusterfuck (you) of the highest order.
The exclusions are made even more insulting by what they decided to feature for this new edition. The single-disc edition only includes a trio of new remixes; one of “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” and two of “Time After Time.” Of them, only the NERVO mix of “Time After Time” is at all listenable, the others are just complete and useless trash. By-the-numbers EDM that will sounded dated and forgettable far before the album proper ever does.
The second disc (only available on the over-priced deluxe edition) is where the previously-noted extra tracks of note are located, but they’re surrounded by boring filler and needless extras in the form of demo cuts and rehearsal tracks. Sure, they’re interesting from a historical perspective, but I don’t think anyone shelled out the bucks for the deluxe edition to hear a version of “Time After Time” with placeholder lyrics or a take of “All Through The Night” that opens with pointless studio chatter. These are the kind of things you tack on the tail-end of a four or five disc special edition, the kind of thing that only the truly devoted care about. They’re not what you advertise as the main attraction.
Oh, and did I mention that this 2-disc set costs nearly $40? That’s crazy, especially since the Japanese edition, which includes a bonus DVD with some making-of content, actually costs less, at about $34. And It has “Goonies ‘R’ Good Enough” as an unlisted bonus track! How the hell did that happen?
This isn’t just an insult, this is a slap in the face. A disgusting cash grab by people who should know better. Cyndi should speak out urging people not to buy it, and Epic should apologize for even trying to push it onto the unsuspecting record-buying public.
And whoever decided to change the cover art should just be slapped and then slapped once more for good measure.
Fuck this disc.