Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Singles Remind Me of Kisses, Albums Remind Me of Plans

Last night Vera Valmore and I went to see Cyndi Lauper perform in Charlotte. The show was part of her “She’s So Unusual 30th Anniversary” tour and featured her and her band playing her entire 1983 debut LP start to finish in order.

Ton of hits on that record, as anyone who was alive and listening to the radio or watching MTV back then well remember. In fact it wasn’t until the seventh song of the show that a tune came up that wasn’t immediately recognizable, and I never owned the LP.

I think my favorite performances of the night both came early. “Money Changes Everything,” the Brains cover with which the album opens, provided a great, loud, rocking start. I also dug the performance of her Prince cover, “When You Were Mine” (originally on Dirty Mind, a record I once wrote about on another blog), which ended with a nifty psychedelic swirl of overlapping melodic vamps.

Was definitely interesting to hear the entire album performed in sequence and thus necessarily be made to think about the old LP format as used to exist as a medium for popular music. Made me think a little of the Cheap Trick show in Las Vegas from a few years back Vera and I saw, the one where they played the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper from beginning to end.

Has become a trend lately for a lot of acts who initially made their mark during the era of the long player, this idea to build live shows out of performances of entire albums. I like it. I think the first time I ever saw a band do such a thing was in the late 1980s when I saw Hüsker Dü on their very last tour when they played every song from what would turn out to be their last release, the double-LP Warehouse: Songs and Stories.

I remember hanging around after that show with a buddy and being surprised when Grant Hart came out to chat with those of us still there. I asked him why they’d decided to play all 20 tracks of Warehouse straight through, and he just said something about the songs being new and how they’d wanted to play them all. The band would break up for good about 10 months later.

A woman at the show last night came wearing a Lauper-styled red-and-orange wig and carrying a copy of the LP, which really did look like a relic of sorts and again reminded me of the fun of collecting vinyl (something I’ve written about here before).

I still like the full-length albums. Still have almost nothing but albums on the iPod, with just a couple of odd, orphaned tracks on there that don’t come as part of a collection of songs by the same artist presented in a deliberate order. I suppose I was mostly conditioned to listen to -- and to collect -- music that way, regardless of the genre. Sort of like preferring a certain game variant or tourney type, perhaps, within which to play.

Got home late and then was up following last night’s Super Tuesday into the wee hours. Had the teevee on with the sound down and at one point settled on a music channel airing a marathon of Lady Gaga vids. Wasn’t listening, but the visuals recalled how once upon a time Lauper’s image and sound seemed unusual, though today that’s hardly so.

(Trivia challenge for 1980s pop music fans to identify the title source.)

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