Today’s POP RESCUE is the 1989 second album Electric Youth from Debbie Gibson. Is this album a fully charged hit, or has it blown a fuse? Read on…
An exciting title, huh? Electric Youth – sounds futuristic and rebellious at the same time, and that’s perhaps how Debbie Gibson was marketed.
This CD version boasts 13 tracks, of which 4 were singles, and the final two are mixes that weren’t featured on the vinyl or cassette versions of this album. Debbie wrote all of the tracks, which considering this wasn’t her first album and she was still only 18 at the time, is quite a feat.
Album opener Who Loves Ya Baby? suggests that this album will be brimming with the excitement that the title suggests.
Lost In Your Eyes, the first single, and second track on the album, sounds particularly like this. It is also her biggest and highest charting single (somehow, admittedly the 80s were weird sometimes).
Thankfully, Love In Disguise comes along, and this has a better up-beat tempo, and one that feels better suited to Debbie’s pop vocals. Sadly it wasn’t a single.
Helplessly In Love sounds pretty similar to Love In Disguise, so if you liked that, you’re in for a treat.
Silence Speaks (A Thousand Words) takes a different direction, complete with flutes and synth strings, giving Debbie the opportunity to show off a different vocal range.
Electric Youth is by far the best song on the album. Oddly it missed the top 10 when released as single #2. This was followed by No More Rhyme (a sickening 80s ballad, complete with a obligatory 80s saxophone solo!), and We Could Be Together (a great 5:33 pop jaunt), all three of which make up the second half of the album, and all three were singles.
Also lurking on the second half of the album is the great Over The Wall which has a perfectly pop chorus.
Shades Of The Past closes what would have been the vinyl and cassette version of the album – a slower track, but one that takes Debbie’s vocals high during the chorus. It would have been a great ending to this album.
With this being the CD, there’s two CD-only tracks – We Could Be Together (Campfire Mix) and No More Rhyme (Acoustic Mix). Neither are what we’d call a ‘mix’ these days.
The former is a wonderful acoustic version – warm and gentle (although perhaps about a minute too long). Close your eyes for a moment, and you can almost feel the flickering warmth of the campfire with you.
However, the latter, which I didn’t really like in it’s normal ballad form, just gets worse. Despite it’s mix title, the understanding of ‘acoustic’ was clearly a mystery. I had to cut it short in case I died.
Where is Debbie Gibson now?
These days, Debbie Gibson is still writing, recording and releasing music. As someone who has been performing since she was about 5yrs old, it was unlikely that she was just going to shut shop. Electric Youth has remained her biggest-selling album.
She’s also appeared as Deborah Gibson in films, including Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus. Although, if you look at the sleeve notes for Electric Youth, you notice that she’s credited (apart from on the album cover) as Deborah Gibson throughout.
She’s also very active on Twitter.
As 1980s American pop, this fits perfectly amongst 1980s American pop, but meanwhile in the UK, the charts were dominated by rockier acts, and a very much more pop fluff sound courtesy of Stock/Aitken/Waterman.
In her native US, the album did go on to produce a tour, an Electric Youth perfume, a book, and eventually inspired a short-running stage show.
However, musically, this album feels dated. Whilst it does come from the 1980s, its sprawling lead guitars, 1989 keyboard riffs, and drumming-by-numbers approach, makes it sound slightly twee now.
The album does have some really catchy moments though, namely the singles, and it feels like an early Billie Piper at times. Definitely worth a listen.
- POP RESCUE 2014 RATING: 3 / 5
- 1989 UK CHART POSITION: #8, and certified Gold.
- POP RESCUE COST: about £4.00 (from eBay)