1983 release from Columbia Records.
Michael Bolton – Vocals, guitars. Bruce Kulick – Guitar. Aldo Nova – Guitar., synthesizers. Bob Kulick – Guitar. Scott Zito – Guitar, synthesizers, backing vocals. Craig Brooks – Guitar, backing vocals. Mark Clarke – Bass. George Clinton – Synthesizers, backing vocals. Mark Mangold – Synthesizers, backing vocals. Doug Katsaros – Synthesizers, piano. Jan Mullaney – Piano, Hammond organ. Michael Braun – Drums. Chuck Burgi – Drums. Lloyd Landesman – Backing vocals.
Artist location: New Haven, Connecticut, USA.
4 out of 5 stars rating.
Reviewed by David.
- Fools Game.
- She Did The Same Thing.
- Hometown Hero.
- Can’t Hold On, Can’t Let Go.
- Fighting For My Life.
- Back In My Arms Again (The Supremes cover).
- I Almost Believed You.
So I have been asked by a few folks if I was going to review Michael Bolton’s newest album, ‘Songs Of Cinema‘, that released just a few short days ago via Frontiers Records. Well, as I have explained to each of them, I will not be reviewing that one, not that I feel that my one negative review would have a huge negative impact on Bolton’s considerable career or fan base of course, but I still refuse to do it on principle.
But it did get me going back in my collection to take out and listen to some of his earlier albums.
If you will think back to the early 1980’s you may recall a time, prior to his turn to the soft rock he is most well known for today, when Bolton was putting some pretty good melodic rock.
Before he was known as the soft rock balladeer king of romance he was releasing some rocking albums, starting with the band Blackjack in the late 1970’s before going solo under his given name, Michael Bolotin, and even auditioning for the lead singer spot in Black Sabbath (yes, that Sabbath, the one and only). After releasing two albums under Michael Bolotin he changed to his stage name, Bolton, and released his self-titled album in 1983. The album that, I have to say, is the best one his has ever given us.
Now some may scoff at the inclusion of Bolton on this site, though I suspect anyone who does just does not realize what kind of music the man was releasing early in his career.
Joining Bolton for this album are many artists, among them, Aldo Nova shows up to lend some of his guitar playing and Bolton’s former Blackjack bandmate Bruce Kulick (ex-KISS, Union, Grand Funk Railroad) is also present with his axe. Also present is singer/songwriter Mark Mangold (Touch) who lends his vocals in a backing capacity and also co-writes ‘Fool’s Game‘. Chuck Burgi (Red Dawn, Tokyo Motor Fist, Billy Joel) also lends his talents on drums.
Well, at the risk of losing my card carrying privileges here in the melodic rock world, I have to confess that I do in fact enjoy some of his work after he turned into the crooner he is now, but, aside from putting out some good music to play when you are spending some romantic time with that special someone, he has not rocked in a good many years now, and this record sees him in top vocal form and saw him writing some pretty doggone good rock music.
Don’t believe me? Just check the record out for yourself.
The album starts off on a fantastic foot with the rocking ‘Fool’s Game‘, a song that has since been covered by the likes of Axel Rudi Pell and Last Autumn’s Dream. This is a song that I just don’t see how anyone that enjoys melodic rock could dislike. In fact I have heard people say that Bolton has never had a good song and then hear this song covered by somebody like Johnny Gioeli in Axel Rudi Pell and say it was a rocking song, only to find out it was originally written and performed by Bolton. It is just a great song and I love it.
While none of the songs after that opening track ever reach that same strength for me, there are still some more fantastic tracks here.
‘She Did The Same Thing‘, ‘Hometown Hero‘ and ‘Can’t Hold On, Can’t Let Go‘ are all three excellent upbeat numbers with some great vocals from Bolton.
Coming in at track five is the upbeat ‘Fighting For My Life‘, the weakest track thus far in my opinion, but it takes us into another standout in the rocker ‘Paradise‘.
Bolton takes on a cover of The Supremes‘ ‘Back In My Arms Again‘ from their 1965 album ‘More Hits From The Supremes‘ and does an admirable job with it.
‘Carrie‘ comes in at track 8. This is another that is not one of my particular favorites, but it is not a bad song. Some of you may recognize it from Houston covering it on their 2011 album ‘Relaunch‘.
The album ends on the ballad ‘I Almost Believed You‘ which sees Michael giving us a glimpse into the turn his music was going to be taking just a few short years later.
Well a few things are obvious,
One, Michael could not pull off the hair metal look. Two, as great of a song as ‘Fool’s Game‘ is, it is one terrible music video. To be fair though, how many videos from the 80’s weren’t. And three, once upon a time Michael Bolton actually knew how to rock.
He had a couple more albums after this that continued in the same vein before he went the soft rock route, but as I said at the beginning, this has to be my favorite record of his, though the follow-up album, ‘Everybody’s Crazy‘, comes close.
If you haven’t heard it check it out. If you want to scoff at me for liking a Bolton album then go check it out first. I think people that have not heard this side of him will be very surprised.
‘She Did The Same Thing’. ‘
‘Can’t Hold On, Can’t Let Go’.
Back In My Arms Again’.