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Thread: Cyndi Lauper - Memphis Blues

  1. #1
    Grumpy Old Man Music Head's Avatar
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    Aug 2009
    Lancaster, Kentucky, United States

    Default Cyndi Lauper - Memphis Blues

    released June 22nd, 2010

    from the album - Early In The Mornin'

    from all music

    Cyndi Lauper was one of the biggest stars of the early MTV era, selling five million copies of her debut album, She's So Unusual, as well as scoring a string of four Top Ten hits from the record, including the major hits "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" and "Time After Time." Lauper's thin, girlish voice and gleefully ragtag appearance became one of the most distinctive images of the early '80s, which helped lead her not only to the top of the charts, but also to stardom. Throughout America, there were numbers of teenage girls dressing like Lauper and using "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" as an anthem, a call to arms for self-expression. At first, her music was a bright, colorful new wave fusion of a number of styles, including new wave, post-punk, reggae, pop, and funk. Both her music and her appearance helped popularize and just as importantly, sanitize - the image of punk and new wave for America, making it an acceptable part of the pop landscape. Lauper didn't follow through on the success of She's So Unusual, choosing to turn toward middle-of-the-road balladry and mainstream pop, but her first album remains a benchmark of the early '80s.

    Born in Brooklyn, NY, and raised in the neighboring borough of Queens, Lauper (born June 22, 1953) dropped out of high school in her late teens, choosing to sing in a number of local cover bands instead. Eventually, her voice was so strained she turned to voice lessons from Katherine Agresta, a well-known vocal teacher in New York. In 1977, Lauper began writing her own material with keyboardist John Turi. The duo formed Blue Angel that same year. Over the next few years, the group built up a solid following in New York, culminating in the release of an eponymous debut album on Polydor in 1980. The Blue Angel record flopped and shortly afterward, Lauper filed for bankruptcy, which led to the disbandment of Blue Angel.

    Following the breakup of the group, Lauper sang in local clubs and restaurants. In 1983, her manager and boyfriend David Wolff managed to secure her a contract with Portrait. At the end of the year, she released her debut album, She's So Unusual. Helped by heavy MTV support of the album's first single/video "Girls Just Want to Have Fun," She's So Unusual became a major hit in the spring of 1984, eventually climbing to number four on the U.S. charts; it would wind up going platinum five times, as well as becoming a hit in the U.K. and Europe. "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" peaked at number two, while its follow-up, the ballad "Time After Time," reached number one; two other songs, "She Bop" and "All Through the Night," went Top Ten.

    With the success of She's So Unusual under her belt, Lauper was an official star, yet she wasn't able to maintain her popularity. During 1985 she worked on her follow-up album; her only release of the year was "The Goonies 'R' Good Enough," the theme song from the children's adventure film The Goonies. Her second album, True Colors, appeared in the fall of 1986, and while it was successful the title track went to number one, while the album peaked at number four and went platinum its softer, adult contemporary sound lost Lauper some fans. Lauper's career continued to lose momentum, as her feature film debut in 1988's comedy Vibes bombed. A Night to Remember, her third album, was released to weak reviews in 1989, and although it spawned the Top Ten hit "I Drove All Night," it suffered from disappointing sales, peaking at number 37. The next year, she severed her relationship with Wolff and married actor David Thornton.

    After taking a few years off, Lauper returned in 1993 with Hat Full of Stars, an album where she co-produced and co-wrote all of the tracks. The record stiffed, peaking at 112. The following year, the hits compilation Twelve Deadly Cyns...and Then Some was released in the U.K.; the album reached number two, while a remixed "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" became a number one hit. Twelve Deadly Cyns was released in America the following year to less attention. Lauper released Sisters of Avalon, her first album of new material in four years, in the spring of 1997 to generally positive reviews, yet the record didn't chart. Merry Christmas...Have a Nice Life! followed in late 1998. After a long hiatus, Lauper returned to the studio in 2003 for At Last, a collection of pop standards that garnered favorable reviews and spawned a live DVD, Live...At Last. The Body Acoustic, a collection of stripped-down reinventions of previous hits, followed in 2005. In 2008, Lauper released her tenth studio album, the dance-oriented Bring Ya to the Brink. She then switched gears for 2010's Memphis Blues, which featured her versions of several classic blues songs.

    album review

    There is no doubt that Cyndi Lauper can sing almost anything and make it not only compelling, but her own (and she has, many times, whether her albums sold or not). Arguing her gift as a vocalist is pointless. That said, her sense of direction is always a question. Thanks to her appearance on the television program Celebrity Apprentice, her public profile is once more part of mainstream pop culture. So of all the albums to make Memphis Blues is her eleventh why a blues record now? True, she gets help from some big names: Charlie Musselwhite, Allen Toussaint, B.B. King, Ann Peebles, and Jonny Lang, but in the end, she has to carry these performances herself. The set begins with Little Walter Jacobs' "Just Your Fool" featuring Musselwhite's muscular harmonica, but Lauper's vocal is thin, reedy, and doesn't carry authority in the lyric particularly not when juxtaposed against that harmonica. Far better is Louis Jordan's "Early in the Morning" with King and Toussaint. The interplay between the latter's rumbling, New Orleans R&B piano and the former's sparse but mean lead guitar works well with Lauper's vocal, especially with the tune's humorous lyrics. "Romance in the Dark" is one of three cuts Lauper and her band cut without any cameos, and it works wonderfully. Its slow, nocturnal, languidly sexy feel underscores her strengths as a singer. The uptempo, soul-drenched "Don't Cry No More" works equally well, thanks to her having to get atop a rollicking Stax-style horn section and testify. "Rollin' and Tumblin'," with Peebles, is strong and authoritative; it's a unique version even if their voices don't always meld. Her two selections with Lang are as cliched and nondescript as electric blues gets these days: a waste. There is real beauty in "Mother Earth," however, with Toussaint playing his most sympathetic, in-the-cut blues piano as a horn section matches Lauper's unique, off-kilter phrasing and winds it into the blues. In the end, while Memphis Blues does have some fine moments, the uneven ones makes it feel like a squandered opportunity at a popular comeback.

    Track Listing

    1 Just Your Fool Jacobs 3:37
    2 Shattered Dreams Fulsom, Washington 3:52
    3 Early in the Mornin' Bartley, Hickman, Jordan 3:51
    4 Romance in the Dark Broonzy, Green 5:44
    5 How Blue Can You Get? Father, Feather 5:23
    6 Down Don't Bother Me King 3:03
    7 Don't Cry No More Robey 2:44
    8 Rollin' and Tumblin' Waters 3:29
    9 Down so Low Nelson 3:55
    10 Mother Earth Chatman, Simpkins 5:19
    11 Crossroads Johnson 4:42
    A man only learns in two ways, one by reading, and the other by association with smarter people.
    Will Rogers

  2. #2

    Default yea

    Got them popstar blues. BB playin so must be good, huh?

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