Debut from 1988 gets the Deluxe Edition, two-CD treatment

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Melissa Etheridge

Before she became the epitome of all that’s tedious about rock music made by lesbians, Etheridge made this record. Admittedly, it’s extremely earnest and doesn’t exactly rewrite the rules of rock, yet it opens with “Similar Features”?not quite in the league of Furniture’s “She Gets Out The Scrapbook” as songs about the indelible stain of the ex-lover go, but pretty damn fierce nonetheless. Her ragged, garnet-hued rasp maintains an almost-painful level of intensity throughout and, despite the year, the production’s not the dated FM nightmare it might have been. Somewhere between Pat Benatar, Bonnie Tyler and Joni’s Blue. CD2 offers 10 tracks of Melissa and band live, and five solo acoustic performances, which are much more worthy of your time.