Columbia – PC 38537
Say what you will, but Michael Bolton is an artist that’s difficult to ignore. Almost anyone who reads Goldmine is well armed with the tools to take apart the canon he has established since 1987’s “The Hunger.” Bolton is now an adult contemporary artist verging quickly on becoming a casino-only act. This is a long way from where he began, and while the same can be said of a good many ’80s stars, Bolton began as an entirely different kind of artist.
Before “The Hunger” he was an aspiring glam metal, pop rock artist. Signed at the age of 19, he kicked about with his birth name Bolotin and a few forgettable releases before he became “Bolton.” And 1983 was the year the transformation began. With Columbia Records, Bolton released a self-titled album – a reset of sorts. Someone continually blessed with big name collaborators (Bob Dylan co-wrote his single “Steel Bars“), Bolton is joined here with Andy Newmark, Jim Horn, David Sanborn, Marcy Levy, and future KISS guitarist Bruce Kulick, who would become a long term session player on his biggest songs. The guest who maybe sets the best stage for what you can expect to hear on this record is ’80s guitar god Aldo Nova. While Nova’s participation is narrow, the influence of his input is found throughout the record. From the first single “Fools Game“ to the racer “Fighting For My Life,” Bolton taps deeply into the mechanics of Nova’s 1982 hit “Fantasy” – a song that influences the entire album.
The record is at times more bright than needed – a common ’80s sin. But what Bolton delivers here is an example of real rock chops. Throughout he competently owns the guitar solos, excepting for the sole moment he hands them to Aldo – on a cover of The Supremes “Back In My Arms Again.” Who could blame him?
The record presents a Michael Bolton confronting an important pivot point. His next record would firmly secure his position in AC to the degree that Bolton moving forward worked tirelessly to ensure that the music he had recorded prior to “The Hunger” be buried so as not to confuse his new fans. The irony is that this stuff is the very music that might earn him the cred that would warrant providing him with another look. This isn’t Rock Hall worthy material. But it sure has more grit than anything you associate with Bolton and it’s well worked into a collective listen that leans nicely against anything you call a guilty rock pleasure.
Highlighted below is the value of Michael Bolton’s self-titled 1983 album in Near Mint (NM) condition, according to Goldmine’s Standard Catalog of American Records, 9th Edition. Note: As a standard rule, a vinyl record in VG+ condition is 50% of NM value and VG record is 25% NM value.