Welcome to the musical meandering insights of Aaron Joy. Here you'll find 600 reviews of CDs & DVDs of rock & metal in all its variations, mainstream & indie. What they all share is that the album or band is unique in some way & not every submission was reviewed. Please share these reviews or link to them if you like what you read. Reviews are no longer being posted here but feel free to e-mail Aaron & post comments. (Formerly the Roman Midnight Music Blog) (last update 5/23/2017)

April 12, 2012

Michael Bolton ~ Michael Bolton (aka self-titled)

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Style: hard rock
Label: Columbia
Year: 1983
Home: New York

Members: Michael Bolton ~ vocals/lead guitar
Bob Kulick ~ rhythm guitar
Bruce Kulick ~ guitar
Scott Zito, Craig Brooks ~ guitar/b. vocals
Michael Braun, Chuck Burgi ~ drums
Mark Clarke, Scott Zito ~ bass
Mark Mangold ~ keyboards/b. vocals
Jan Mullaney, Scott Zito, Doug Katsaros ~ keyboards
Lloyd Landesman ~ b. vocals

Guests: Aldo Nova ~ lead guitar/keyboards
George Clinton ~ keyboards/b. vocals

For fans of Journey & Foreigner ... for fans of fringe or early 80's hard rock where guitars & keyboards rule & hairspray has yet to become the sixth member of the band ... for fans of seeing where an artist was musically before they became famous ... for fans of guitarist Aldo Nova, if there are any ... for 80's era Kiss fans or those interested in brother guitarists Bob & Bruce Kulick ... & lastly for fans of liking to hear an artist they're familiar with do something entirely different. If any of the above fits then you will probably get a lot of delight out of the now forgotten, deliberately helped to be forgotten by the artist himself, third solo album by MB ... the first under the name MB having previously released two albums as Michael Bolotin & two albums with his now truly forgotten hard rock band Blackjack with Bruce Kulick. For those that only know MB as the blue-eyed soul cooner this early release should come as a shock. There's no crooner here but instead a leather pants, Jim Morrison-esque blouse wearing hard rocker who sings & plays rock guitar solos. Yes, MB once was a quite competant rock guitarist who was trying for a adaptation of a guitar wielding Robert Plant not Ray Charles or Englebert Humperdinck. It was an image that didn't last long as it found little success on its own or with Blackjack. The tour for this album, supporting the minor single "Fool's Game", only lasted a literal handful of shows before being cancelled, though it did include future stars Bruce Kulick, who left to join Kiss, Bruno Ravel of Danger Danger, keyboardist/songwriter Mark Mangold & future Megadeth/Trans-Siberian Orchestra guitarist Al Pitrelli. Another hard rock album would be released before MB changed labels & was given one of the most extensive musical & physical facelifts one could image with the rest history. Oddly, I can't recall anyone ever calling MB a fake though he's as much a label creation as the Monkees or Britney Spears. "Fool's Game" is a guitar light rock song that's so far from what would eventually come from MB's lips & pen it's an enjoyable surprise. It's really a bit too polished, cliched & tame to be a real long-lasting rocker, compared to what else was coming out at the time, but its faults are made exciting by hindsight of what would later follow from MB. It's almost a shock that MB would become as big as he did after listening to this album, not to mention his work with Blackjack & as Michael Bolotin. There are only a few clues of what he was capable of once he traded in the leather for a suit. The closest might be in closer "I Almost Believed You" which is a mix of Todd Rundgren-era Meat Loaf & future MB that comes out of nowhere. Though MB does cover of the Supremes "Back In My Arms Again" which hearkens a bit of the same spirit he'd draw more fully from in the decade ahead, but it's still in a rock mold. MB has got the voice, no doubt, but its undeveloped as he stays far away from the Ray Charles ballads that push him vocally, instead going for a Journey or Foreigner-esque pop rock ballad feel(for example "Carrie") that is more about the feel than the voice. Once the image changed he'd put down the guitar, while Kiss would pull Bruce Kulick away within a few albums, so that element got toned down if not largelty removed. Before the tides turn one can enjoy three guitar solos by MB (i.e. "Fool's Game", "Hometown Hero", "Fighting For My Life") with the rest of the guitar parts taken up by Bruce Kulick (i.e. "She Did The Same Thing", "Can't Hold On, Can't Let Go"), the now forgotten chart topper Aldo Nova (i.e. "Can't Hold On, Can't Let Go", "Back In My Arms Again"), with five songs featuring 1970's Kiss co-composer & under-rated session man/producer & Bruce's brother Bob Kulick on rhythm guitar. The album is a high energy rock'n'roll affair & it's almost too bad the songs have been, deliberately, removed from the Bolton repertoire. They're not bad & certainly not embarressing, albeit largely cliched love songs, & some of them could even be successfully reworked with the later MB sound to find renewed life. This is far from an album to shy away from. There's certainly an addicting appeal to it because the songs are so unheard, whereas the later MB catalog has been ingrained into anyone's soul who grew up in the 80's/90's that they've become stale. This is fresh, niave & genuinely fun. That's what rock'n'roll is all about.

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