Classic Masters

Missing Persons

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Classic Masters Review

by William Ruhlmann

This midline-priced compilation, part of a Capitol Records series, re-presents 1980s rock band Missing Persons' best-known recordings in 24-bit remastered sound. Ten of the 12 tracks previously appeared on the 15-track 1987 collection The Best of Missing Persons, which gave a broader sense of the band's three-album, one-EP career. Classic Masters is more of a chronologically sequenced singles collection, those singles consisting not only of Missing Persons' five chart records of 1982-1984 ("Words," "Destination Unknown," "Windows," "Walking in L.A.," and "Give"), but also later ones that failed to make the charts ("Right Now," "Surrender Your Heart," "I Can't Think About Dancin'," and "Color in Your Life"). "Give" is presented in a dance mix that adds nearly two minutes to the running time; "If Only for the Moment," an album track from the band's second album, Rhyme & Reason, appears as a previously unreleased "full version" that goes on for an extra minute; and the version of "I Can't Think About Dancin'" is one extended by 25 seconds. The group members, most of them veterans of Frank Zappa's rigorous employment, viewed themselves as technically adept musicians who were slumming a bit in producing accessible music, as drummer Terry Bozzio's comments in Scott Schinder's liner notes attest. If so, maybe they didn't slum quite enough, since they always remained one major hit single away from a commercial breakthrough, despite a debut album that spawned two Top 40 chart entries and went gold. If they had found that one big song, or if Capitol had managed to break one of the songs they did produce, their career might have been like that of Blondie, a band they resembled in more ways than one. As it is, the highlights of their career remain engaging examples of sophisticated '80s pop/rock.

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