Four decades ago this October, Cyndi Lauper exploded into the mainstream with her solo debut album She's So Unusual. Her quirky personal style, distinctive vocals and a batch of indisputable hits - including Top 10 smashes "Girls Just Want to Have Fun," "Time After Time," "She Bop" and "All Through the Night" - guaranteed her stardom through the '80s and an icon status that endures to this day.
But Lauper's story didn't start there. Three years prior, her voice was first caught on record as the frontwoman for the band Blue Angel, whose well-crafted debut failed to find traction with audiences at the time but today serves as the foundation of Lauper's pop career. This month, the long-out-of-print album will take another bow on CD courtesy of Music on Vinyl's sister label, appropriately titled Music on CD.
After spending the '70s in cover bands and dive bars that strained her vocal cords and required coaching to regain her instrument, Lauper finally seemed poised for success when she met keyboardist/saxophonist John Turi and formed Blue Angel. (Guitarist Arthur Nelson, bassist Lee Brovitz and drummer Johnny Morelli rounded out the line-up.) The group blended a punk/New Wave style with the bright pop styles of the '60s - indeed, the Barry Mann-Cynthia Weil composition "I'm Gonna Be Strong," made famous by Gene Pitney in 1964, was part of their live repertoire and album recording - and those styles were fused to perfection with the help of producer Roy Halee, known for his work with Simon & Garfunkel. To the shock and dismay of the group, Blue Angel failed to find an audience when Polydor issued it. A subsequent legal battle with then-manager Steve Massarsky (who'd previously managed The Allman Brothers Band) sent Lauper into bankruptcy; she struggled through menial jobs trying to pick up the pieces.
Thankfully, things would turn around in a big way - and while Blue Angel got reissued a few times to capitalize on Lauper's newfound success, she never viewed the work as a boondoggle. In fact, several Lauper-Turi compositions surfaced as the singer became a hitmaker: "Witness," a deep cut off She's So Unusual; "What a Thrill," a song recorded for the soundtrack of The Goonies; and the doo-wop flavored Blue Angel cut "Maybe He'll Know" was re-recorded for True Colors (with Billy Joel on backing vocals!). Turi was one of the session players on Lauper's final album of the '80s, A Night to Remember (1989), and even appeared with the singer onstage at the Beacon Theatre in the summer of 2023 after a screening of Lauper's forthcoming documentary Let the Canary Sing.
Music on CD's reissue of Blue Angel, licensed from Universal Music Group, is only the album's second appearance on the format after a limited reissue by Hip-o Select in 2005. It finally offers fans the chance to hear Cyndi Lauper at the start of her one-of-a-kind career. It's available November 17 and can be pre-ordered below.
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- Maybe He'll Know
- I Had a Love
- Anna Blue
- Can't Blame Me
- Cut Out
- Take a Chance
- Just the Other Day
- I'm Gonna Be Strong
- Everybody's Got An Angel