After more than 30 years, it remains one of my most memorable concert experiences — one I still recount gleefully to anyone who will listen.
Orlando, Florida — November 1989. At 26 I found myself forced up against a cold brick wall, spread eagle and getting patted down by “the man.” I told you guys — I DON’T have a gun! Oddly, this wasn’t a late-night DUI stop. I wasn’t being interrogated at an international airport checkpoint. And I wasn’t involved in a drug deal gone bad. I merely was attempting to get through the turnstile at — a Debbie Gibson concert.
At the time, Deb was the center of my musical universe. It was her Electric Youth tour. My brother and I had front row center seats and I would have hacked off an arm before doing anything disruptive. However, with my waist-length jet black hair, piercings, backwards ball cap and Motörhead T-shirt, I’d raised immediate suspicions among the beefy members of the arena’s security staff. Even my brother was waved right in — which was particularly crazy considering that he was the one carrying the gun — relax, he was an off-duty police officer. It’s a super-long story, but I did (finally) get in to see the show that night. And despite non-stop security scrutiny, it was magical — even greater than that time I saw the New York Dolls.
I remained buckled up aboard the “D-train” for a few more years — her 1995 album, Think with Your Heart was my jump-off point. Yet, Deb remained on my radar, and I cheered her on as she achieved enormous success on Broadway in ensuing years. And when I was recently perusing one of my fave entertainment news sites, RewindItMagazine.com, and learned that Deb had dropped a new studio set, The Body Remembers, just a few weeks earlier, I skipped merrily over to iTunes in short order.
Contrary to Deb’s recent comments in the press, The Body Remembers is nothing at all like Electric Youth — which is not a criticism. Truth be told, it’s unrealistic and unfair to expect an artist to be creating the same style of work at 50-something as they were at 16, 18 or even 20. Hence, while the concept of “No More Rhyme Pt. II,” certainly seems appealing for a minute, the Debbie Gibson brand actually would be served best by her moving forward artistically. And that she does with The Body Remembers.
It’s been said that it takes a village to raise a kid. These days, it also takes a village to produce a record. And while Deb always occupies the pilot’s seat, with The Body Remembers, she has some serious assistance from a cast of qualified co-pilots, including EDM DJ/musician Dirty Werk, 19-year-old multi-instrumentalist Sean Thomas and Grammy winner Tracy Young. And throughout the 15-track collection, Deb reveals her ever-maturing artistry, while maintaining a youthful freshness.
An electro-pop dance floor delight, “One Step Closer” sets the stage nicely, while “Runaway” is an even sexier-feeling follow-up. A particular high point, “Love Don’t Care” seems a smidge sultry before going a bit “gaga.” Additional WOW moments include the signature Deb-style ballad, “Strings.” A songwriting collab with ’80s arena rock kingpin, Fred Coury, “LuvU2Much” pops off the grooves, with the former Cinderella drummer providing not only drums but also guitar work, keyboard tracks and programming. Great job, Fred!
The live concert duet between Deb and ’80s heartthrob Joey McIntyre on the iconic “Lost in Your Eyes” created nightly show-stopping magic during the 2019 New Kids on the Block reunion tour. However, the studio version here is about as compelling as a Robocop reboot.
Conversely, the record’s “money shot” is, without a doubt, “Legendary.” This modern-day epic soars with massive orchestration, glorious gospel-style backing vocals and a coliseum-caliber contribution courtesy of go-to guitar god, DJ Ashba. Bravo!
In sum, The Body Remembers ain’t Electric Youth. Nor should it be. But it is a crisp snapshot of who Debbie Gibson is today. Which is pretty darn fabulous!
The Body Remembers Track Listing:
1. One Step Closer – 3:22
2. Runway – 3:33
3. Love Don’t Care – 3:45
4. The Body Remembers – 4:03
5. Lost in Your Eyes, the Duet (with Joey McIntyre) – 3:39
6. Strings – 3:55
7. Legendary – 4:15
8. Freedom (featuring DJ Ashba) – 3:19
9. Girls Night Out (VegasVibe Remix) – 4:24
10. Dance 4U – 3:19
11. What Are We Gonna Do? – 2:33
12. LuvU2Much – 2:28
13. Red Carpet Ready – 4:05
14. Tell Me Love – 4:02
15. Me Not Loving You – 4:27
Run Time:e 55:09
Release Date: August 20, 2021
Record Label: StarGirl Records