Essential Atlantic: Debbie Gibson, OUT OF THE BLUE
For the next several weeks (or maybe just until we decide that we want to stop doing it, since normalcy seems likely to remain on hiatus for the foreseeable future), Rhino.com will be spotlighting an album from the Atlantic Records discography that qualifies as “Essential.” And what rigorous standards and/or mathematical algorithm did we use to come up with the criteria to define “Essential,” you ask? None at all. You’ll just have to trust our instincts. But they’re really good, we swear...
On May 14, 1988, Atlantic Records held its 40th Anniversary concert at Madison Square Garden, an event which was dubbed “It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll,” but...it wasn’t only rock ‘n’ roll. There was definitely a pop presence on the bill, one which was situated between Ruth Brown and Robert Plant.
Her name? Debbie Gibson.
Gibson had released her debut single, “Only in My Dreams,” the previous February, then followed with her debut album, OUT OF THE BLUE, six months later. In its wake came her second single, “Shake Your Love,” with the title track released as a single in January, “Foolish Beat” in April, and “Staying Together” in September. The first four singles all landed in the top 5, with the fifth topping out at #22. Still, when you consider how long it had been since the album’s release, that ain’t half bad!
Although many cynics wanted to write Gibson off as just another prefabricated mall queen, they couldn’t: she wrote all 10 songs on OUT OF THE BLUE, had a hand in the production of almost half of the album’s tracks, and handled the songs’ rhythm programs as well as playing keyboard and synthesizer. Of course, haters were gonna hate, but Gibson ended up getting way more respect than most teen pop queens of her era, and her prime spot on the Atlantic anniversary concert was proof of that.
If you haven’t given OUT OF THE BLUE a spin recently, give it a shot. Sure, some of the songs sound very much of their era – these things happen, y’know? – but the hooks are as catchy as ever and still get stuck in your head just as easily as they used to.
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