As outlined in A Love Deluxe, the past year or so has seen me become just a little bit addicted to creating “fantasy” deluxe editions. You take an album, and use whatever extra material is available (B-sides, Single Edits, 12″ Remixes, Demos, Out-takes, non-album 45s) to piece together a multi-disc celebration of it.
Not every project I work on ends up as a sprawling, 6-disc monster. Occasionally (okay, very occasionally) there are single-CD efforts, where the lack of supplementary tracks to choose from necessitates a less indulgent approach.
Take the Cyndi Lauper album, A Night To Remember. In a parallel universe, her third album era could include the original LP, a later remaster, a host of non-album tracks and even the rejected 1988 set Kindred Spirit that was eventually moulded at Epic’s insistence into the A Night To Remember record.
We could be here discussing a brilliant 4 or 5-disc set, showing the genesis of what became her 3rd studio album. Alas, it’s make-do and mend time, with just a half-dozen or so bonus tracks to add to the 12 on the CD released 33 years ago. (There was a re-issue sometime in the early 2000s, but whether it was remastered or not isn’t clear).
1988 was a rum old year for many established acts. A sudden sea-change within pop music and youth culture in Britain (Rave, Acid House, SAW) combined with top-level executive/takeover shenanigans at the major record labels (as the old order merged with, and sold out to, the big corporations) had altered the landscape. New albums by a host of artists with a rich pedigree were rejected, while someone such as Paul Young was sent back and forth across the Atlantic to find whatever it was that CBS required of him and his next LP.
Cyndi Lauper probably felt she had enough credit after the huge success of She’s So Unusual through 1984 and 1985, and then the okay-but-not-spectacular performance of its follow-up True Colours, to make the music she wanted to. Pop is a brutal business though, and Epic – spooked by the failure of her single Hole In My Heart (All The Way To China) and the similar flop status of the Vibes film Cyndi had starred in – decided to pull the plug on Kindred Spirit before its release in October 1988.
Forced back into the studio, and forced to compromise, the making of the album that became A Night To Remember was not a happy experience. The actual record itself kept many of the same tracks, but remixed them (no official source for these appears to exist, but would make for a fascinating addition to this set) and added a couple of new ones written in early 1989.
Despite all this label intervention, by all accounts Epic still didn’t believe in the project (or their artist) enough to really make it a hit, although in the UK A Night To Remember would be her highest-charting LP to date (debuting at #9) and its lead single I Drove All Night was an unqualified smash too.
From such a promising start, the campaign fizzled out within a matter of months, and even a serious singles-watcher like myself back in the day has no recollection of either the title cut or I Don’t Want To Be Your Friend getting a UK release at all.
Maybe the choice of My First Night Without You killed any momentum (peaking at a disastrous #59), but CBS/Epic of all the labels around were capable of resurrecting a single/album with relentless determination (think Midnight Oil, Gloria Estefan, Living Colour, Roachford and The Bangles in 1988/89 alone). The way in which subsequent 45s from A Night To Remember were barely promoted has the air of a record label losing interest in their artist.
Relations with Epic were reaching the point of no return (in her memorable autobiography, Cyndi describes the moment where she effectively backs the wrong horse in the power struggle engulfing CBS/Epic as it is taken over by Sony Music). From hereon, she was fighting a losing battle to get her music released and championed in the manner to which she’d become accustomed to during her mid-80s heyday.
This probably explains the lack of catalogue activity and legacy releases of anything bar She’s So Unusual and zillions of compilations, but we’ll work with what we have.
…and she’ll never forget how it was allowed to sink….
First up in the extra tracks stakes is that lead-single-that-never-was, Hole In My Heart (All The Way To China), which missed the US Top 50 and didn’t chart in Britain at all. It’s actually quite brilliant, a rollicking, guitar-twanging joyride with a suitably unhinged vocal and a catchy, New Wave hook. If only it had been released in 1982.
In terms of special 7″ mixes and radio edits, there is only I Drove All Night (sans the Kindred Spirit intro link from the album), My First Night Without You, I Don’t Want To Be Your Friend and A Night To Remember. The latter two mixes are very hard to find, which again is a pity because both are superior to their album counterparts.
A solitary B-side, Unabbreviated Love, and a demo version of Across The Universe, complete the tracklisting. It would have been fun to recreate Kindred Sprit, but since the original rejected mixes plus a track called Don’t Look Back remain in the vaults, that’s a no-go.
What was fun, thankfully, was designing the artwork for my fantasy deluxe – which is more like an expanded edition if we’re honest. I got so into the design, in fact, that it inspired me to begin putting together a mammoth career-spanning Cyndi project…which in typical AFDPJ style, has yet to be finished. I took the best elements of A Night To Remember‘s promotional art, photoshots and sleeve concept, and saved it for that boxset.
So in the end, an alternative layout was needed. One of my favourite Cyndi images is from the front of I Drove All Night, the bleached retro hair with the streak of black in the front, and the old-school microphone stand. Let’s make that the cover for this version of the album. Picking up on the colour palette, gave me the idea to have a “Circus” style font and shade the design in vivid pinks, blues and purples. The rear sleeve design takes fragments of the street scene from the actual album art, as well as the multi-coloured thing (is it a cart? a canon?) from the A Night To Remember single. I’d wanted to use one of the harlequin trouser images but couldn’t find one in the right dimensions and of sufficient quality.
Cyndi might refer to this album as A Night To Forget, but it deserves a better fate than to be lost in the mists of time. She would go on to make her finest album and single in the 90s (in my humble opinion) with Hat Full Of Stars and World Is Stone respectively, and Epic would continue to bury her music as best they could, until she got out of her contract at the end of the decade.