A quarter-of-a-century ago, Rufus Wainwright, son of famed troubadours Kate McGarrigle and Loudon Wainwright III, made his big self-titled debut. In the time of boy bands and nu-metal, Rufus Wainwright was a throwback to the grand, operatic pop of another era, and if it wasn’t the smash hit that had been hoped for, the album has more than stood the test of time. Now comes the 25th anniversary edition, an extended version with a bunch of extras.
The original Rufus still has all of its hallmarks, from the wonderful marquee track “April Fools” that defined this Wainwright, to songs of lost loves such as “Barcelona” (that notably didn’t shy away from his homosexuality, a brave stance even that relatively recently). “Beauty Mark”, his tribute to his mother, has only more power now, as she has since passed, an endearingly ramshackle tribute up there with “Matinee Idol”, which had been inspired by the gone-too-soon River Phoenix. Done in the last-days-of-analog grandeur that you don’t see anymore, it is both a throwback and timeless.
And there are still ten more bonus tracks for the deluxe edition, mostly from 2011 box set House of Rufus, but also three sessions outtakes, with the standout of those being the strumming cabaret “More Wine”. House pieces include two strong stories told, in the sly & wry “A Bit of You” and the sarcastic “Miss Otis Regrets”.
At twenty-two songs and over an hour-and-a-half, Rufus Wainwright (25th Anniversary Edition) is for Wainwright’s devoted fans (some of whom were memorialized in 2020’s “This One’s for the Ladies (That Lunge!)”), but for them, it’s a wonderful celebration of an artist now hitting fifty and still going strong.