Bolton moans and groans throughout 'Time'


May 17, 1991|By J.D. Considine | J.D. Considine,Sun Pop Music Critic


Michael Bolton (Columbia 46771)

Blue-eyed soul singers have always relied on vocal mannerisms to get their point across, from Wayne Cochran's screech to Robert Palmer's grunt, but few have ever gone to the extremes Michael Bolton manages with "Time, Love & Tenderness." Apparently confusing emotional anguish with physical injury, Bolton sings as if he'd just herniated himself; hearing him moan his way through "Love Is a Wonderful Thing" or "Missing You Now," you'd swear he was lifting heavy objects in the studio. Still, that's better than his version of "When a Man Loves a Woman," which sounds a lot like Otis Redding . . . as impersonated by Sylvester Stallone.


Huey Lewis and the News (EMI 93355)

There's nothing terribly fancy about the sound of "Hard At Play," the latest offering from Huey Lewis and the News. From the bluesy grind of "Build Me Up" to the classic rock and roll styling of "Time Ain't Money," the songs sound as if they could have come from any of the group's previous albums; it's only when you listen closely that you notice such subtle modernizations as the sequenced bass in "Attitude." But it's precisely that sort of dependability that earned the group its audience in the first place, which is why the best songs -- $H particularly "Couple Days Off" and "That's Not Me" -- seem instantly familiar.


Elvis Costello (Warner Bros. 26598)

One of the problems with starting out as an Angry Young Man is that there's a good chance of ending up as an Annoying Old Crank. Elvis Costello may not have crossed that threshold yet, but with "Mighty Like a Rose" he's definitely teetering on the brink. Although the album is lush with melody, Costello continually undercuts his best tunes by tossing in all sorts of verbal nastiness, so even songs as seemingly sweet as "All Grown Up" or "The Other Side of Summer" seethe with uncontrolled vitriol. All of which makes hearing the album a lot like drinking vinegar from a wine glass -- bearable in small sips, but hard to swallow otherwise.

Along with songwriting partners Brian and Eddie Holland, Lamont Dozier helped craft some of the greatest singles ever churned out by the Motown hit machine, and it doesn't take too many listens to "Inside Seduction" to realize that he hasn't lost his touch. There's plenty of solid songwriting here, from the insistent chorus of "Feeling Each Other Out" to the witty wordplay of "No Comment," and Dozier's lean, artful arrangements make the most of his material. Too bad his voice isn't as distinctive; apart from "The Quiet's Too Loud," which fleshes out Dozier's vocal with some Phil Collins harmonies, the singing barely does justice to the material.

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