“Hi Infidelity: 30th Anniversary Edition”
Epic/Legacy (88697 69579 2)
By Michael Popke
With multiple versions of 1981’s “Hi Infidelity” available on CD, the selling point for this 30th anniversary edition is a second disc of demos for the album, which has sold almost 10 million copies in the United States and spent 15 weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard 200. Recorded during three days at Crystal Studios in Hollywood, Calif., and dubbed “The Crystal Demos,” these nine previously unreleased tracks (“Out of Season” from the original album is missing) reveal primitive but no less compelling and energetic versions of the songs that came to represent the peak of REO’s pop-rock prowess.
“Around half of the performances on the final version of the Hi Infidelity album are from the original Crystal Demos,” vocalist Kevin Cronin writes in the liner notes, “and the rest of the album [is] overdubs we added to those demos.” Among the notable differences between the demos and the originals are lyric changes to “Take It On the Run” and a slight rockabilly guitar vibe on “In Your Letter.”
From there, the band built an album that remains a beginning-to-end slab of classic hook-filled perfection.