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)

August 5, 2012

Donny Osmond ~ Eyes Don't Lie

(Click on heading to visit official website.)
Style: pop, dance
Label: Capitol
Year: 1990
Home: Utah

Members: Donny Osmond ~ vocals
Carl Sturken ~ guitars/keyboards (4)
John Nevin ~ bass
David Gamson ~ keyboards/drum programming

Additional: Bruce Dukov, Debra Price, Arnold Belnick, Isabelle Daskoff, Joel Derouin, Henry Ferber, Reg Hill, Brian Leonard, Gordon Marron, Don Palmer, Haim Shtrum, Bob Sushel, Mari Tsumura, Shari Zippert ~ violins
Fred Seykora, Ron Cooper, Larry Corbett, Ernie Ehrhradt, Dennis Karmazyn, Suzie Katayama ~ cello
Sam Boghossian, Ken Burward-Hoy, Myra Kestenbaum, Dan Neufeld ~ viola

Guests: Dave Koz, Michael Brecker ~ saxophone
Al Pitrelli ~ rhythm guitar
Rory James Collen, Paul Jackson Jr. ~ guitar
Paulinho da Costa ~ percussion
DJ Aladdin ~ scratching
Cornelius Mims ~ bass
Oliver Leiber ~ drum programming
Rich Tancredi ~ keyboards
Joe Franco ~ drums
Billy T. Scott, Jamillah Muhammed, Shelly Peiken ~ b. vocals

Once teen idol DO really needs no introduction. Though, anyone that might hear this album will certainly be looking for one ... if not at least an explanation. Imagine Rick Springfield or New Kids On The Block pop meeting a white boy's take on Quincy Jones or Prince-esque funk with all the electronic drums, light R&B backing vocals & splashes of keyboards. This may not be what you'd expect from boy scout DO, but its what he turned out in his only studio album in the 90's. The result is a pop album with a weak dance beat & a "syrupy" manner, as many critics have labeled it. A few guitars are thrown in with good measure, but its primarily a synthesizer affair. The result sounds as alien to the vision & music of DO as heavy metal jazz was to Pat Boone. The difference is Boone turned in something masterful. This is just cliched through the roof, shallow through the floor & as alien as Mars. Surprisingly, it's not the music that's the problem with this album. It sounds like DO was copying what he had in his music collection & he copies well. The George Michael-esque "Private Affair" is a lovely little ballad, written by Diane Warren, maybe the strongest track on the album, while some of the funky Prince-esque moments (i.e. "Eyes Don't Lie", "Sure Lookin'") aren't that bad. The problem is that since debuting on TV at age five, DO never really had a sound of his own. He's trying to find one here, but while all the little beats, funky lines & keyboard moments might be in their proper place the music never really rises to any climactic moment or to anything beyond imitation & DO's voice never soars to carry the album higher. This followed his 1989 self-titled release, his only album for that decade, that was a deliberately planned comeback co-engineered by Peter Gabriel. It spawned two singles that were originally marketed by a "mystery artist". The Osmond name & 70's tv star image had come to haunt DO & being broke & weary he was desperate to basically start over. The idea was to remove his reputation from his career. Thus, we return to the problem for Eyes Don't Lie & the 90's DO. He has no place to go without starting from scratch. He's not like Alice Cooper who abandoned the make-up of Killer Alice in the late 70's & 80's to find a new character & voice, only to return to what he did well with Killer Alice. DO can't return to the teen pop star nor The Osmond family singing troupe. He's now stuck in the predicament of all imitators. He may have written all but two songs, but the material isn't strong & the musical team on hand isn't pushing him to do anything individual, original or more than sub-par interesting. While an album full of day dreaming romance love songs isn't exactly showing DO at his most personal, considering his Mormon upbringing & getting & staying married to a youthful sweetheart. Today, the album reak of a world dominated by New Kids On The Block & sounds more dated then ever. At the time though, thinking back, one can see that it's not really an embarressment. It fits its era, or at least one end of the spectrum. Of note is that the track "Just Between You & Me" was produced by Ric Wake & engineered by Bob Cadway with drums by Joe Franco, keyboards by Rich Tancredi & rhythm guitar by Al Pitrelli. Or, more properly that's Joe Franco of Twisted Sister & Al Pitrelli of Megadeth/Trans-Siberian Orchestra, here both during their session days. Tancredi & Franco are also on "Private Affair". But, all of the above names would also be found the same year on Kathy Troccoli's Pure Attraction, Expose's self-titled album & Henry Lee Summer's Way Past Midnight, while all but Al would be involved with creating Taylor Dayne's signature song "Tell It To My Heart" & her later album Soul Dancing. Producer Ric Wake was known for using the same set of musicians once a groove was found ... or a hit. Further, guest bassist on one track Cornelius Mims also did drum programming for Quincy Jones on Michael Jackson's Bad, while some drum programming here was done by Oliver Leiber who had produced Paula Abdul's debut & written some of the material. It certainly looks like DO was checking out the linear notes of the songs he liked in his collection & who played on them. The linear notes read "My sincere appreciation to everyone at radio, retail & the press for accepting a change." It can be said that whatever chart position this album didn't hit, his next act would be to spend six years starring in Broadway's Joseph & The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat & the later movie. That's a real comeback.

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