One more stroll down Destiny Street? Sure, why not? Ever since its release in 1982, Richard Hell has been dissatisfied with his second and final album with the Voidoids. The double-disc Destiny Street Complete is likely his last attempt at getting it right. And that means including virtually everything. “Don’t I have better things to do?” Hell asks in the liners. “I don’t know, apparently not.”
The first disc includes the album as it was originally released, plus Hell’s 2009 re-do—Destiny Street Repaired. Repaired takes the album’s basic rhythm tracks and adds new guitar solos from such six-string masters as Bill Frisell, Marc Ribot and Voidoids guitarist Ivan Julian, in addition to brand-new vocals from Hell. Revisionist history? Well, yeah. But it’s pretty pleasing revisionist history all the same. Even though the late, great Robert Quine wasn’t around to contribute, Frisell, Ribot and Julian are more than capable of conjuring up the guitarist’s berserker spirit. And Hell himself sounds surprisingly great for a guy who pretty much left the music world behind after Destiny Street’s completion, still full of that weirdo energy and oddball phrasing that made him one of the most dynamic talents of the CBGB scene.
The second disc kicks off with Destiny Street Remixed, which is as advertised: a new mix of the album overseen by Hell and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ Nick Zinner, made from the master tapes, which were long thought lost. It’s not a radical remake by any stretch, but Hell and Zinner give the songs a crisper, more modern feel, especially when it comes to the drums and vocals. Whether it’s definitive will be up to the individual listener. But the remix is definitely nice to have, another perspective on an album that deserves as much praise as Blank Generation, Hell and the Voidoids’ more feted 1977 debut.
But wait, there’s more — and Hell may have saved the best for last. Disc two of this set also includes Destiny Street Demos, an essential collection of raw early recordings and singles spanning from 1978 to 1980. This stuff smokes, plain and simple; it might even be the best argument for the Voidoids as one of the finest bands to emerge out of NYC during this period. Almost all of Demos has shown up on various collections in the past, but presented as a whole here, it’s as powerful a statement as Hell and co. ever made. Worth the price of admission alone. | t wilcox