Richard Hell repairs 'Destiny Street' with re-recording, but did album need fixing?

Remastering and re-releasing an album is one thing, but choosing to re-record it in its entirety is a whole different animal. Just let it never be said that it’s one that Richard Hell is afraid of.

The making of Hell’s 1982 album “Destiny Street” was plagued by drugs, a falling out with the record label and a four-year dragout in recording. Yet a funny thing happened: the songs on became the stuff of legend. For collectors, though,  finding an original copy of “Destiny Street” was next-to-impossible after Hell — unhappy with the recording — acquired the rights in 2006 and stopped subsequent printings. That may not be the primary reason Hell decided to re-record “Destiny Street” and release it as “Destiny Street Repaired,” but for fans, it serves as a window into what did and didn’t happen.

The modern audience, of course, has the luxury of knowing Hell is still with us, but 27 years ago, no one would have blamed you for thinking that the record was the sound of someone essentially singing his own epitaph. Is listening to the original “Destiny Street” any less chilling than it was upon its initial release? No. Is something lost in the re-recording of an album by an artist who’s revisiting his dark past without physically reliving it? Maybe.

For fans, this mean taking the re-recording with a grain of salt, simply knowing that this isn’t the same man in the same state who originally recorded the songs. It helps to think of the new album as a celebration of a survivor, rather than as a vast improvement on the original. Part of the beauty of the first album was its imperfections. Vocally, Hell is buoyant on the re-recording, but he’s lost the vulnerability of his original vocals.

The new version of the Bob Dylan cover “Going Going Gone” — incredible in 1982, when it seemed to be an eerie prediction of one possible fate for the strung-out Hell — falls flat here. The classics “Time” and “Downtown at Dawn,” however, are both are evergreen in any form, and hearing them with a facelift doesn’t hurt.

The new recording is limited to 1,000 CDs and LPs each, so fans who need some fresh Hell should act fast — it’s worth another walk down this street.

— Stephanie R. Myers

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *