Things Fans Forget – America Never Got “The Red Album” or “Backstreet’s Back”

Backstreet downtime is currently happening, and so it’s given me time to really think about what I want to post rather than scrambling to keep up. It got a bit delayed due to me being sick, which sorry! But I’m here now to work on some ideas I’ve had in my head for awhile. Not to mention this is a post talking about the music and those are some of my favorite to write. I have fun on here with the humor posts, I spread love and appreciation in others, and I try my best to keep y’all updated. But the music? The vocals? Those are a huge reason why I started this blog.

One thing that I’ve wanted to dive in on for awhile now, is the era that didn’t actually exist in the US. I mean not really. This isn’t so much an album reflection post about the two albums in the title – that can come at another time. This is more acknowledging what I don’t think a lot of fans outside the US remember or even notice.

There’s several BSB classics that the States never got in an official sense.

When I mention The Red Album, it’s a term hard core fans like myself use to differentiate their self-titled debut. Main reason? Is they have a different, also self titled debut album that came out a full year later only in the US while the rest of the world? Well they were blessed with Backstreet’s Back. Casual fans do not know these exist. I’m not sure if any of you noticed during the American leg of the DNA World Tour but there’s a lot of people who looked very confused when the Boys opened up the show singing I Wanna Be With You. It’s something I picked up on in Chicago. Now for me, I Wanna Be With You is a freaking classic. It’s in my Top 20 favorite BSB songs ever. How do people NOT know this song?

Then, I remembered those songs didn’t come out here.

It’s mentioned in the BSB Documentary, but more as a side note than anything else. Now, I don’t know if you know about those two albums. If you’re a hard core fan like myself then you do. But I also recognize that newer generations have come into the fold, especially during this DNA era we’re now enjoying. The Boys did not really break into the US until about 1998. That’s when everything exploded.

It’s a little different for Europe. Europe they hit practically immediately. Record labels aren’t idiots so soon after they released an album way back in 1996. The self titled debut album there has the infamous red album cover which is why it’s known in the fandom as The Red Album. The other reason why it got dubbed that is because of the first release the States got only a year later which I’ll get to in a moment.

Now this album really showcases their New Jack Swing influences they started out with. That was a huge thing in the mid nineties and it’s a genre I miss as it’s not so prevalent now. Though Bruno Mars and the newest generation’s boyband PrettyMuch have done songs in that genre in recent years, it never really had the comeback it deserves. I’m going off track though. Nick is absolutely in full puberty when they recorded this so they couldn’t showcase him much and is one of the rare albums where they cut back on him. (I use this phrase in comparison to later albums.)

This version of the album features a Quit Playing Games that did not in fact feature Nick. Brian got both verses on it instead. Crazy, isn’t it? Especially when you remember that the version we know is what really helped them break into the US market. It got re-recorded. Some say it was because they wanted to showcase Nick more in a time where fans focused more on him. Others say it’s because they wanted it for the US debut. I’m more inclined to believe it’s a mix of both.

Let’s look at the track list. Now it varies based on countries because this was pre-streaming and during the most annoying trend where different countries got different songs. It still happens today but not nearly as often. I’m using the one that popped up the most on Google.

(Also take a moment to appreciate this was when they had to point out who was who.)

Some tracks you recognize right from the US debut right?

Let’s move on to Backstreet’s Back.

This album is absolutely amazing, especially when you consider how fast it got put together. The above album was released in May of 1996. Backstreet’s Back was released in August of 1997. Less than a year apart. This album was pure gold. One highlight of course being my favorite BSB song of ALL TIME, yes I’m talking about 10,000 Promises. My favorite song of theirs wasn’t even released here. It’s annoying as hell. That’s What She Said was on this album, a track Brian wrote about his ex-girlfriend and would play often in the earlier days on tour with his guitar. That song? Nope never released here. One of my favorite tracks, That’s The Way I Like It, another song curently being performed on tour? It was on this album and one of the ones not included on the US version.

Let me post the full track list for you.

(Check out how tough they’re trying to look.)
Now even for more casual fans, the back of this album should look very familiar. It’s the same shoot they used for the US Debut. Now the US Debut is self titled just like The Red Album hence, why we try to differentiate from this one. This got released literally a single day after Backstreet’s Back got released everywhere else in the world. The reason why it got a different title makes sense. The label rightly assumed that people here wouldn’t understand how they were back when they were – at least to America – brand new. Personally I think they should have just released the The Red Album here and then this one, make that extra money.

(Notice anything missing?)

Sadly instead what they did is they basically created a compilation album of the above two and released that instead. Even in their discography it’s considered one. It’s a little strange to think about since so many don’t even release that was the case. And to get even stranger they released this originally without their infamous song Everybody. Again, assuming it wouldn’t make sense. This is the same label that allowed I Want It That Way a few years later though so it shouldn’t have been a concern. A year later though, they’re releasing it as a single. That created just a bit of a problem since singles tend to get people to check out albums. Remember this was before streaming existed. You liked a song that much? You bought the CD. That’s an issue if you can’t even find the song on an album. So Jive was like oh shit and yes – you guessed it – they released the album again with Everybody attached.

Guess it not making sense didn’t matter anymore?

(Remember when Enhanced CDs were a thing?)

Funnily enough they also goofed a little too in this series of releasing an insane amount of versions of this album between all the different countries. They put the wrong version of Everybody, adding the Extended Mix instead of the original. One of my friends had no idea back in the 90s while Nick would sing that infamous ‘as long as there be music, we’ll be coming back again’ line till I played Backstreet’s Back for her on my CD player. (I was a good friend.) On the 1997 version of this album they put the demo to As Long As You Love Me instead of the finalized one which they fixed on the 1998 one.

Jive, you had ONE job here.

To this day the only way to legally get the songs from The Red Album or Backstreet’s Back in the US is to buy the imports! Spotify DOES NOT have these two albums available for streaming here in the US. If you’re reading this, any BSB or someone on their team, if you could make that happen that’d be great. Because it’s a travesty that more people don’t know about these songs. Besides, it’d be extra money and streams in the bank.

So guys, when you see fans completely baffled during the gems of I Wanna Be With You or That’s The Way I Like It don’t get mad. Instead, take the time to bless these fans with information. Pull up the songs on YouTube for them. Help them out. Because once upon a time, the States weren’t the first to get things when it came to Backstreet.

What’s your favorite song from these albums? Comment below and let me know!

4 thoughts on “Things Fans Forget – America Never Got “The Red Album” or “Backstreet’s Back”

  1. That’s What She Said and 10,000 Promises are my favorite songs from these!! I too would love it if they found a way to get these albums on Spotify. All the fans need to be able to know these amazing songs!!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.