MICHAEL BOLTON REVIEWS:
Michael Bolotin (1975)
Released by Michael Bolotin
The first thing to know about Michael Bolton (other than he is a no-talent ass-clown) is something that might surprise a few people: His career spanned all the way back to 1975, and his early albums were released under his given name, Michael Bolotin. (...And prior to 1975, judging from the album cover, he was frozen in carbonite.) The second thing to note about the guy is that he always sings like he's passing a kidney stone. It doesn't matter what type of song it is (rockabilly, Frank Sinatra covers, romantic ballads), all I really picture him doing is curled up on the floor, wincing with the most horrific pain imaginable. I think this is the main reason I'm confused why there are so many Michael Bolton fans in the world; are there really that many sadists in the world who like listening to this man suffer so?
Of course in order to sing like you're passing a kidney stone, you'd have to have an amazingly powerful voice, which Bolton definitely does. The problem with him is that his performances are frequently so ridiculously over-the-top that, if I didn't know any better, I would have thought he was joking about it. But then again, when I think about it, I believe this guy actually needed to sing his songs like this. In those rarer occasions when Bolton exercises a bit of constraint in his singing voice, he doesn't come across as particularly smooth or otherwise appealing. Hence, over-singing everything to death was just about the only way that people were ever going to notice him. And notice him, people did.
But not a whole lot of people noticed him in 1975, however, since this album failed to even hit the Billboard Top 200. I guess the 1975 world already had Joe Cocker, and the last thing they needed was this poor man's version of him. …Oh, by the way, if you know Joe Cocker albums, then you know this one. Take a listen to Joe Cocker's “Woman to Woman,” and imagine how it would sound with Bolton's vocals. ...You've just imagined this album in a nutshell.
Now, Joe Cocker albums are pretty good, which would make this Imitation Joe Cocker album fair. The opening track, “Your Love” is one of the better songs on here, and it has a chugging rock 'n' roll groove and one of Bolton's classic vocal performances. (Man! I'd think a fella'd be liable of blowing out his lungs singing like that!) ...Easily the worst thing about the song is the female back-up singers who at first seem startlingly screechy and don't seem like they're singing in key.
One song that I somehow actually enjoy here is his rabble-rousing cover of Betty Everett's 1963 hit single “You're No Good.” His band really gets some rough energy pumping there, which ends up being a pretty good match for Bolton's ridiculous vocals. Another song I don't mind too much is “Tell Me How You Feel,” which has a crunchy and toe-tapping boogie-woogie groove and a decently catchy melody to boot. Also “Take Me As I Am” gets a fun groove going, and so does “Give Me a Reason.” Probably the most ridiculous song of the album is his version of “Time is On My Side.” I mean, I dare you to listen to it and try your hardest to not to burst out laughing every time he belts out “T-IIIIIIIIII-IIIIIIIIIIII-IIIIIIIIIII-IIIIIIIIIIME!!! IS OOON MAHHH SIDEEEEE!!! OH YES IT IEESZZZ!!!!!!!!!!!”
But before you rush off to the Internet record store to buy this album, beware! There are cheesy ballads in here, too! “Everybody Needs a Reason!” I'll grant the song one thing, though: It could have been much worse. At least I'm hearing real, organic drums, and the piano isn't an electric piano. Also the soprano saxophone solo in there is quite a few notches above Kenny G. (...Er. That's actually David Sanborn playing there! Wow! Go figure!) Other ballads are “Lost in the City” and “Dream While You Can” whose only real crimes is that they're boring.
Even though I'm not giving Michael Bolotin a particularly positive review, I do believe it's far, far better than that one star review that the All-Music Guide gave it. For the most part, this is a perfectly adequate album, and I definitely prefer it to the majority of his post-fame albums. I wouldn't recommend buying this album, but since when did people ever take my recommendations? I mean, I can say and do whatever I like, but nothing will stop Michael Bolton from selling millions of records. 8/15
Michael Bolton (1983)
Album Score: 6
Samir: No one in this country can ever pronounce my name right. It's not that hard: Na-ee-ana-jad. Nayanajaad.
(Alright, before it even happens, I'm going to get the copyright-thugs off my tail. This line was lifted from Office Space. Therefore, I am not breaching your precious copyrights. Please refrain from breaking my thumbs and kidnapping my gerbils for ransom.)
And so I decided to review this album. But, I found one thing surprising: even though this is the early 80's, this is unrelenting pop, and this artist was badmouthed in that movie, this album is not excruciatingly painful. Even though somebody is currently selling a used copy of this album on amazon.com for $1.00! (Now that's interesting! The bleeding post office would be the only one who'd make a profit out of the deal!)
This is, in fact, 80's pop. And this is, in fact, mediocre 80's pop. But it's perfectly undemanding 80's pop with a few good hooks scattered here and there ... so it's not bad. And it's not particularly sappy or revolting like one might think. Though, it's safe to say that the album is FAR from a masterpiece. There isn't even a masterful song on here. Nothing 80's-defining or anything you'd particularly feel the need to sing with in your car. And, if you can't do that, then why even listen to an 80's po[o]p album? So, like, unless you're a die-hard 80's nostalgia fanatic, or by some force unknown to man you actually like Michael Bolton, I'm not exactly sure why anybody'd listen to this. I mean ... listen to Michael Jackson! His mammoth popularity wasn't just a fluke, my friend.
That said, this isn't as criminally offensive or criminally adult contemporary (or criminally overplayed) like that muck-fest "When a Man Loves a Woman," which is clearly one of the worst songs ever mass listened-to by semi-intelligent people. Geez that song sucks.
No! This album is much harder and leads much more to the metal-side than his albums to follow (thank goodness)! After just sampling a little bit of his subsequent albums, I'm going to venture a guess that this is his best album. And ... at that ... it's not a very good album. I only decided to review it, so I could slam the man a little bit just for screwing up that poor guy's life in Office Space. (Oh hell. I came into this with an ulterior motive, didn't I?)
Okay... a little bit of technical info. This is not really Michael Bolton's first album. In fact, he had several extremely unsuccessful albums in the 70's under his real name: Michael Bolotin. In this earlier incarnation, he did blue-eyed soul in the same vein as Joe Cocker. But, by the 80's, feeling the desire of success oozing through his veins, he changed his name to Michael Bolton and launched a successful career. (The secret's in the NAME, you see.) In this career, he did win two Grammy awards. But, as I've learned through these album-reviewing stints of mine, Grammy awards don't mean a THANG! I mean ... The Rolling Stones have only received two Grammies, John Lennon won only one (posthumous) Grammy, David Bowie received one Grammy (and that was for a SHORT MOVIE), ABBA won zero, even Nirvana essentially won zero (they got one for some stupid live album released after Cobain's death ... but, like Lennon's, it was done because he died, and the Grammy people felt guilty for not properly giving them their dues!) These Grammy people are ON CRACK. But that's a different rant altogether.
Although, I actually like this album, which, to no real surprise, it is one of Bolton's least popular albums. That would make sense because Bolton won't see his BIG success until 1989 or thereabouts. And, this is one of his only listenable albums! How ironic! (That said, there was something released in 1985 that is supposed to be REALLY bad, but I wouldn't know about it 'cause it apparently doesn't exist anymore.) You might also like to know that all of these songs are essentially the same. (Which isn't always a bad thing if you like hardish pop songs bred for the radio.)
I suppose I ought to mention that much to Michael Bolton's credit, he writes or co-writes all of these songs except for a cover of the Supremes' "Back in My Arms Again."
Read the track reviews:
The Hunger (1987)
Album Score: 5
Twenty-eight cents goes to the person who can predict exactly what I'm going to say next. ... Okay, ready, go!
MICHAEL BOLTON SUCKS!
(...yeah... I'm sure that everybody predicted that ... or cheated. I would be pretty poor, except that there are probably about two people on the planet who've ever read this page, and they probably can't speak English.)
ANYWAY! The Hunger is officially Michael Bolton's breakthrough album. Its sales is currently ranked as having 2x Platinum status (blech!) and ... um ... every one of those people who bought it boyfriends probably upchucked their cookies that afternoon. However, all of Bolton's previous efforts didn't fare so well. And, I'll give you my prediction why.
Alright, this album was released in 1987. Earlier in the 80s decade, from 1980 - 1985, pop music was pretty good and fairly innovative. Remember, we had Japan's/Duran Duran's version of New Romantic ... we had Devo/Oingo Boingo ... we had Prince and his admittedly classic Purple Rain. Michael Jackson and Madonna were even fairly good in the early 80's. However, as we progressed thereafter, pop music started getting really stale. Either that was due to artists creative output turning moldy, or simply that people were sick of listening to good music and turned to listening to creeps like Michael Bolton. Either way, something happened, and it made the 1986-1990 period of rock and roll one of the entity's uttermost detestable periods.
(I'm not saying, however, that everything released in this period of time was awful ... I'm just saying that pop music as a whole had verrrry little to offer. It would redeem itself in 1991 when Nirvana and the rest of the grunge bands went mainstream!) I'm not even sure if pop music really recovered from this period. (I mean ... grunge can only be considered pop music to an extent can it.) However, that'll have to be determined at a later date after I've done more research!
That all said, I don't really believe that The Hunger is a thoroughly detestable album. While there are plenty of bits in it that are quite vomit-inducing, there are plenty of other bits (in fact, too many other bits) that are not. Oh ... that's still being pretty negative, but heck! That's the scoop when it comes to Michael Bolton. Overall, this is an altogether feeble late 80's adult contemporary snoozefest with a few good aspects about it that just keeps it from eternal rock-and-roll damnation.
Read the track reviews:
Soul Provider (1989)
Album Score: 5
You know that you're in a bad predicament when you're 21 years old, you don't have a girlfriend, and you're sitting alone in your room listening to Michael Bolton. ... Oh man ... *takes a shot of bourbon* There. That's better.
Actually, my state of sorriness isn't the reason I'm writing, yet, another Michael Bolton review. I reviewed the first Bolton album as a joke and the second one was just to fill up that page with more reviews. I'm reviewing this third one *specifically* because I learned today that if you type in "Michael Bolton sucks" on Google, my Michael Bolton reviews page is the first thing that comes up ... And, according to my traffic report, quite a few people are doing that. Therefore, I cannot disappoint my fans, and I must come up with more Michael Bolton reviews ... that is, unless I shoot myself first ...
Okay, now that I have some sort of premise set for why I am actually reviewing ANOTHER Michael Bolton album (...Actually, I think I'm doing it because I like making fun of the guy...) I'm going to tell you all about the guy's merits.
His merits are few, but like it or not he *is* a capable singer! ...I mean, the guy probably wasn't really deserving of a Grammy for a song from this album ("How Am I Supposed to Live Without You"), but the guy sings with so much pseudo-passion that ... um ... Hey! He could *seriously* have injured his vocal chords! Let's give him a Grammy!
The other merit that Michael Bolton has is that he has writing credits on his own material. Now ... whether these songs were actually WORTH penning is up to *you*, but I'll be the sixty-fifth to admit that many of the melodies on here are entirely decent. However, whatever decency they might have had was immediately nullified by the songs' detestable overproduction and general sappiness.
Oooooooooohhhhhhhhhhhhh ... and if you're a male, please don't listen to this. I promise you that you're going to vomit. Females: I wouldn't recommend it to you, either, but, as far as I can tell, you people actually like to vomit.
Read the track reviews:
Time, Love and Tenderness (1991)
Album Score: 4
Michael Bolton saved my life. I was contemplating suicide by rolling round in body paint when the song "When a Man Loves a Pancake" came on the radio. Tears welled in my eyes. There's no guarantee that I'll be able to enjoy pancakes in the afterlife, so I decided that I'll let my current life take its course. 2062 will be the year I die (I calculated it to the year, but I'm unclear about the month ... my sources are pointing to May), and you can bet I'll be eating a lot of pancakes that year.
And so, here I am ... I am floating in a vat of elephant dung and urine, AKA the fourth Michael Bolton album. It smells so badly that my olfactory receptors aren't registering anything anymore (everything has its limits). This is the album that has the infamous hit "When a Man Loves a Woman," which isn't tolerable to any (respectable) man's ear. I don't even like the original version. I don't care who wrote it. It's a bad song that gives soul a bad name. Michael Bolton is evil, and he made it even worse. The fact that it became one of the biggest hits of the early '90s proves that Satan is very much in control of the universe.
I will say that I like the first song "Love is a Wonderful Thing," and singlehandedly saves this album from approaching "worst album" status. The last two songs aren't bad, either, one of which is curiously co-written by Bob Dylan. But the rest of the album isn't good enough to poop on. To put it in perspective "When a Man Loves a Woman" isn't the worst song on here.
...So let that conclude another chapter of my book of useless reviews...
Read the track reviews:
The One Thing (1993)
Album Score: 2
...Obviously, I didn't feel the need to make fun of the album title. It makes fun of itself.
Michael Bolton makes fun of himself, too. He's such an easy target. I was nice to him in my previous review of his. Here, I don't even feel like being constructive. If he's not going to take my advice, then what's the point? He's just going to sit there on that album cover with his doggy hair-do and that Dick Cheney smirk while he's undressing me with his eyes. He probably forgot to shower that morning.
This really *is* an awful album cover. I didn't have much of a beef with the covers until now. Then, at least, he at looked like a geek or he didn't care (oh, and he looked like an egg-sucker on Michael Bolton). Here, he just took a total dive down the cheese-end (you like my mixed metaphors, do ya???). That cover is awful awfulness.
Now that he hypnotized tone-deaf drones into buying his albums, he knows he doesn't have to worry about the music anymore! Not that he really cared, before, but ... well ... I wouldn't previously have thought it humanly possible, but Michael Bolton succeeded in making an album even worse than Time Love and Tenderness. I listen to this album thinking he can't be serious. Part of me thinks he's the L. Ron Hubbard of pop music. The other part of me thinks he's just some dork who was never very good and spoiled by the $$$ and Grammies. It's hard to tell, but either way this album SUCKS!!! His singing isn't even decent here ... it has a distinctly more chalky characteristic. He's not trying very hard. Bleeh. I can't even imagine true-blue Bolton fans would even care for this .......... then again, I can't predict the behavior of total mental cases.
Read the track reviews:
All That Matters (1997)
Album Score: 4
The time period between 1993 and 1997 was a magical time. First of all, there was not a new Michael Bolton studio album released between these years. Yes. 1994, 1995, 1996 were Michael Bolton free. (OK there was a Christmas album, but I just skip those by instinct.) The second magical occurrence, during this time, was that Bolton got a haircut. This was the greatest move in his career so far --- he proves, once and for all, that he's better than Kenny G. Except that's not difficult.
I'm glad to report that listening to All that Matters isn't as painful a listening process as many of his previous albums were (even though it's been awhile since I last heard a Michael Bolton album, I remember it clearly just like I still remember getting spanked as a child).
Bolton albums are mostly worthless. His voice is loved by quite a few people who listen to pop music, and I'm not going to deny that it has decent range. He can even wail sometimes like someone with terrible angst. Sure, that's a nice quality, but he apparently can't sing like anything else, and this 'mood' gets really tiring after awhile. Whenever he tries to alter that mode (like "The Best of Love" for example) he comes off as idiotic.
Much of this songwriting is so bland that it could be enough to drive you nuts. It's like trying to eat cotton candy with all the sugar removed. It's airy and pointless. But anyway, there are a handful of songs worth noting.
Naturally, the most famous track is the one that appeared on the Disney's Hercules soundtrack that lost at the Academy Awards to "My Heart Will Go On" by Celine Dion. (You can almost tell how screwy the pop culture was in 1997 --- although I hate to say that it hasn't gotten much better in 2007.) Despite the lyrics being pretty idiotic and centered around a motivational poster cliche. (How are you going to physically move one place to another and not travel "a distance?") But I kind of like that song anyway --- the horrible melody is slightly less bland than the ones around it.
Though this album's real prize is a surprising contribution from Tony Rich called "Fallin'." That track is more musically rich than Michael Bolton is used to. That's an R&B song, which doesn't fit his image (and I don't think he's that suited for it), but it's nice to hear him sing something with a catchy melody for a change. There are some other R&B type tracks, but they fall flat on their faces.
The opening track is pretty good --- that one's more creative than I'm used to hearing from him. He co-wrote that one with Diane Warren, one of the worst corporate songwriters of all time, so maybe it proved that two wrongs can occasionally make a right.
Well, I sure wrote a lot about this album that I don't care about. So, if you have any further questions, please drop me an e-mail.
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