Cyndi Lauper - She's So Unusual
Album Comparisons: She's So Unusual
"Girls Just Want to Have Fun" is one of those songs I remember as a staple of the early MTV era, even though at the time of its release I was only five years old and wouldn't be watching MTV until some nine years later. It and "Time After Time," the second of six singles from She's So Unusual, are among the handful of songs I most closely associate with the 1980s and with the first decade of my life. I finally got my first copy of Cyndi Lauper's debut album in 1996, thirteen years after its release, and it still sounds golden today. But how does it compare to the remastered versions?

Money Changes Everything

1983 Portrait CD release

Money Changes Everything

2000 Epic/Legacy remaster

Money Changes Everything

2014 30th anniversary edition

Money Changes Everything

Girls Just Want to Have Fun

1983 Portrait CD release

Girls Just Want to Have Fun

2000 Epic/Legacy remaster

Girls Just Want to Have Fun

2014 30th anniversary edition

Girls Just Want to Have Fun

When You Were Mine

1983 Portrait CD release

When You Were Mine

2000 Epic/Legacy remaster

When You Were Mine

2014 30th anniversary edition

When You Were Mine

Time After Time

1983 Portrait CD release

Time After Time

2000 Epic/Legacy remaster

Time After Time

2014 30th anniversary edition

Time After Time

She Bop

1983 Portrait CD release

She Bop

2000 Epic/Legacy remaster

She Bop

2014 30th anniversary edition

She Bop

All Through the Night

1983 Portrait CD release

All Through the Night

2000 Epic/Legacy remaster

All Through the Night

2014 30th anniversary edition

All Through the Night

Witness

1983 Portrait CD release

Witness

2000 Epic/Legacy remaster

Witness

2014 30th anniversary edition

Witness

I'll Kiss You

1983 Portrait CD release

I'll Kiss You

2000 Epic/Legacy remaster

I'll Kiss You

2014 30th anniversary edition

I'll Kiss You

He's So Unusual

1983 Portrait CD release

He's So Unusual

2000 Epic/Legacy remaster

He's So Unusual

2014 30th anniversary edition

He's So Unusual

Yeah Yeah

1983 Portrait CD release

Yeah Yeah

2000 Epic/Legacy remaster

Yeah Yeah

2014 30th anniversary edition

Yeah Yeah
And the winner is: 1983 original CD release. The volume increase on the Legacy release is stark, and the audio deficiencies by comparison with the 1983 disc are often significant. The original release has more "punch," much better high end, and sound effects that reach out and enthusiastically smack you instead of thumping along as they do on the reissue with its usage of peak limiting. This difference is especially pronounced in the album's opener, "Money Changes Everything," which sounds fuller and brighter on the earlier disc in contrast to the Legacy disc's more dulled and dispirited rendition. This is not to say that the reissue has no advantages over the original, as bass levels are definitely improved, most noticeably so on "She Bop." But overall the later disc just doesn't measure up to the earlier one, which is all the more remarkable given that the original was released so early in the CD era. The 30th anniversary remastered edition presents no real improvement over the 2000 disc, though it is very slightly quieter in mastering level. Which of the two versions sounds better is a tossup, as both sound terribly muted by comparison to the original. Unless you're a completist who just has to have the bonus tracks (decent but inessential live cuts on the 2000 disc, and utterly horrendous remixes of "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" and "Time After Time" on the anniversary one), there's no reason to buy either of them.

As a side note, the reproductions of the original album art - the cover in particular - included in the packaging of the 2000 Legacy disc are simply fantastic, representing dramatic improvements over the blurry, washed out, zoomed in versions included with the original 1983 CD. The fold out booklet also features a very nice collection of photos and liner notes. It is, however, missing the "wall" graphic with the handwritten lyrics to "Time After Time."