Album Watch: Cyndi Lauper's Love Letter To The Memphis Blues

Monday, November 28, 2011

If you thought Cyndi Lauper and Blues wouldn't go together then be prepared for that sneer to dissolve off your face. Something about Cyndi Lauper I'll always love, she just slips into whatever hat she wants and excels at every turn. As once the woman who was supposed to 'beat' Madonna at her lace n' leggings pop game, Lauper has a divergent career that sort of went off the mainstream path, but is still exciting and influential.

She's So Unusual, Cyndi's 1984 debut, is her magnum opus (and one of my favorite albums ever---it's truly a work of pop art), but there are number of not-so-famous Lauper LP's that are just as ear worthy. I have yet to listen to Memphis Blues, Lauper's homage to the Blues and the city where the sound is in abundance, but what gravitated me to the album's accompaniment, To Memphis With Love is because hearing Blues live is somewhat better than soaking in an studio album. Something about the genre's gut growling grit translates better in a live format. Lauper toured on the strength of Memphis Blues in relation to the live music disc, there is a DVD of her performance which features guest spots with Allen Toussaint and John Lange.

While live albums usually get a bad rap, I personally enjoy them and To Memphis With Love is a real treat. Still my interest rested on the Blues version of her signature hits, such as "She Bop", "Change Of Heart" and "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" as I love a good old remake, especially when an artist can take a signature hit and morph into something else. "Girls" is a bit more ska than Blues on Memphis, but hey, she's re-crafted her signature song a gabillion times so I forgive it. Yet on "She Bop" and "Change Of Heart" from Unusual and 1986's True Colors respectively, she reinvents them with a lot of bravado and the results are...well, you have to click play below to hear. Just a fun time to be had by all.

She Bop (Live)

Change Of Heart (Live)


  1. BIG fan of The Lauper. Saw her on her "At Last" Tour in '03, my first concert @ 18. I own all her records. This album last year left me cold, but I snatched it up immediately. Barring a few gems "Don't Cry No More" especially, the record just felt too labored. Interestingly enough, Pat Benatar's blues album, which turned 20 this year, was a much more enjoyable affair.

    That said, Lauper is a pop great because she always dares & even if she doesn't get it right, I love that she tries. She's prolific. If you get a chance to see her live, do so. My favorite albums of hers are "Bring Ya to the Brink" & "Hat Full of Stars."-QH

  2. QH:
    I haven't gotten a chance to listen to the studio version of 'Memphis', but the live set was rewarding. I do prefer Pat's Blues set mostly because she made such a bold statement with it--proving she could be beyond "Love Is A Battlefield" which is what some people wanted from her always.

    And you're right about Lauper, even when she doesn't get it quite right, I do applaud her for trying. I wish I could see her live, but alas YouTube is my only (free) comfort for that, lol. I've been on a Cyndi kick this week cause I even took in watching her first movie, 'Vibes', which I haven't seen in YEARS, this weekend---she's a good actress too! She just has a lot of fun with whatever she does, and I love her for that.

    I'm still die-hard on 'She's So Unusual' it's just perfect listening, but I also like 'Hat Full Of Stars' (gorgeous set) and 'Bring Ya To The Brink' as well. Personal favorite was the much panned 'A Night To Remember', I think next to 'Unusual' I listen to that one the most.

  3. When I first got into Cyn, ANtR was a firm favorite & still holds a special place. You know they reworked it when the tie-in single to "Vibes," along with said movie, "Hole In My Heart (All the Way To China)" underperformed. Personally, I love "Hole..."

    SSU is cool, I think TC was better, though the three pronged lameness that it closes on kinda saps the power from it. Cyn's tickets are usually decent, I think I paid just like, $70 or $80 to see her in '03, she isn't too terribly expensive. Definitely treat yourself if you get a chance.

  4. Oh, I love "Hole"! It was hard to find, but I got it a long time ago from my Kazaa/Napster so I've had it burned on an 80's mix and whenever I would play it people would be like, "Is this is a new Cyndi song?" LOL

    It's a shame one of Cyndi's best songs isn't well known. And then 'Vibes' bombed---it just sadly didn't work out for both that song and the movie. But I actually liked 'Vibes', I thought it was funny. It's disappointing sales probably led to people not picking up 'A Night To Remember', a year later---sigh.

    I agree with 'True Colors', the last half kind of bogs it down. I only kept on my computer, "Change Of Heart", "Boy Blue", and "Calm Inside The Storm"...wasn't a real fan of the rest.

    Thanks for the ticket info. That's not a shabby price---if she does decide to tour I'll take your advice and try to check her out :)


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