Friday, August 31, 2012

Debbie Gibson - Out of the Blue

Happy forty-second birthday today (August 31st) to American singer, songwriter, producer and actress Deborah Ann Gibson.

On August 18th of 1987, at age 16 when she was still going by Debbie, she released her first studio album Out of the Blue. Not only did she write all ten tracks (for which she holds the title of the youngest female to write, record and produce a number 1 single), but she was also one of the record's producers. This multi-Platinum album went to number 7 on the US Billboard Hot 200. Around the world, it went to number 75 in Japan, number 66 in Australia, number 34 in Sweden, number 29 in the Netherlands, number 26 in the UK and number 16 in Canada.

Side one opens with the title track. "Out of the Blue" was released as the third single; it went to number 21 in Canada, number 19 in the UK number 16 on the US Adult Contemporary chart and number 3 on the US Billboard Hot 100. The song has a soft, dream-like melody for the verses and then move into focus for the chorus where Gibson acknowledges the effects of that special guy in her life.

The fifth single "Staying Together" went to number 53 in the UK, number 29 in Canada and number 22 on the US Billboard Hot 100. It opens with a funky guitar riff and squeaky synthesizer sounds. It then drops into a bouncy dance beat. In the lyrics, Gibson asserts that she won’t let her boyfriend bail on their relationship.

Gibson wrote the song "Only In My Dreams" in 1984. As the first single which predated the album release, it hit number 11 in the UK and number 6 in Canada. In the US, it went to number 31 on the Adult Contemporary chart, number 12 on the Dance chart and number 4 on the Billboard Hot 100. The lyrics are what one would stereo-type of a teenaged girl building up an elaborate, detailed relationship that only exists in her imagination.

"Foolish Beat" was released as the fourth single and gave Gibson her first number 1 on the US Billboard Hot 100. It also hit number 1 in Canada, number 9 in the UK and number 10 in Switzerland. Jeff Smith provides the mood setting saxophone solo on this track. Gibson really goes for the emotional strings on this ballad about losing love. Ironically, at the point in her life when she wrote it she had yet to have a boyfriend herself. I think she nails the feelings just right.

"Red Hot" appeared on the soundtrack for the 1987 film Fatal Beauty starring Whoopi Goldberg and Sam Elliot. The song was subsequently released as a single in the Philippines. The lyrics represent a physical aching to be with someone intimately. It might have been a bit out place for a sixteen year old to be singing about such adult things, but Gibson was hardly the first teen to do so. Again, Smith’s sax punctuates the words perfectly.

Side two starts with "Wake Up to Love", a pointed message to a clueless guy about what is going on between the two of them. Everyone else sees it but him. Like many of the previous tracks, this one too has a bouncy dance beat.

"Shake Your Love", the second single, hit number 4 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and number 6 on the Dance charts. It also got into the top 10 in Canada (at number 10) and the UK (number 7). This track has a strong Latin beat to its percussion, making it a perfect party song.

"Fallen Angel" opens with a dramatic backing chorus overture before dropping into a pop-rock groove. The lyrics go for the traditional symbolic imagery of good and evil, as Gibson’s good girl falls for a bad boy. She is willing to cross the line in the name of love.

"Play the Field" has some very sharp dance club licks to it musically. With strong synths and pounding percussion, I could easily see why deejays were putting it into the mix along with the hit singles. Mike Baskt provides the keyboards here.

The album closes with a final ballad. "Between the Lines" is a song about looking for love and finally finding it in the most unexpected place. It is on these slower songs that Gibson’s strong vocals really are put on display.

I owned a copy of Out of the Blue on cassette back in the late 80's when it first came out. I won't deny being an early fan of Ms. Gibson's work; she instantly came across as a dedicated, hard-working singer-songwriter - even if her entry genre was firmly in the pop category. She had that girl next door look, attractive yet very approachable. Her songs were also prominently featured on Dance Party USA, a teen dance show that ran on the USA Network on cable. That show is where Kelly Rippa got her first national exposure as a regular.

Years ago when I got into the whole digital/iPod phase of my life, this was one of many albums I added to the library (supplementing the deeper tracks with the greatest hits CD I had gotten in the 90's). I still enjoy listening to this one when I am in the mood for something light and up-beat.

No comments: