I remember seeing a tabloid TV show interview with George Michael years ago where he was saying that he knew he was in bad shape when he realized Andrew Ridgely felt sorry for him. Michael, who is gay, made worldwide headlines when he was the unwitting target of a sting operation in a Santa Monica public restroom.
The news didn't just sully his clean cut persona, it left it in tatters. Years later, an another anonymous snog, this time in London's Hampstead Heath, combined with numerous "driving while obliterated" charges saw the once-iconic British pop star spend two weeks in prison in 2010.
Needless to say, this has all helped derail any positive momentum his solo career might have had. His most recent effort, Symphonica, came out in 2014. It's worth noting that this symphonic live album was the final project by producer Phil Ramone. It features six respectable Michael compositions as well as covers of Terence Trent D;Arby's "Let her Down Easy and the Elton/Taupin's "Icon" (from Elton's Blue Moves album).
Terence Trent D'Arby
This writer staunchly believes that if Introducing The Hardline According to TTD had had Prince's name on it instead, it would have sold 20 million copies. That's how great an album it is and, while it did manage to climb to #4 on the Billboard Top 200 Albums chart, buoyed by "If You Let Me Stay" and the U.S #1 hit "Wishing Well", it is now a forgotten classic that occasionally gets unearthed and praised by the likes of moi.
Even before Hardline managed to chart in the States, TTD was already huge in the UK and his ego the stuff of legends. It was D'Arby, after all, who had declared Hardline to be the single greatest album since Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.
Anytime this writer digs out The Lion And The Cobra and takes in this enchanting young singer's opening salvo to the world, it makes watching her current slow-motion psychic meltdown/cry for help all the more painful because this is a woman who deserves so much better than this.
I mean, "Mandinka" is the song Ani DiFranco's been trying to write her whole career, yet O'Connor's ability to make you weak in the knees the next moment, as on "I Want Your Hands On Me".
Of course, it's easy to love a gal smart enough to feature Adam And The Ants guitarist Marco Pirroni's guitar work prominently throughout the album. While the album was a critical success, it's sales were just large enough to warrant some ill-advised label tinkering, such as bringing in hit doctor/producer Nellee Hooper, who was doing remixes for Janet Jackson and Soul II Soul at the time.
Her cover of Prince's "Nothing Compares 2 U" made her a household name, but O'Connor's rebellious side found outlets in songs like "Emporer's New Clothes", "Black Boys On Mopeds" and "Jump In The River" (co-written by Pirroni).
So what did she do next, you ask? An album of jazz standards produced by Phil Ramone, of course.
After that, she ripped up the pic of the pope on SNL and was persona non grata. Looking back, she was abso-fucking-lutely right and we as a nation owe her an apology. Now get this poor girl some coffee and help her get back in the studio with Marco Pirroni, dammit.
Guns 'n Roses
Yeah, yeah, they're getting ready to pick-pocket white suburban grease monkeys who still associate GNR with quality rock & roll by giving them a 3/5 reunion, but was a time when GNR was opening for Lords of The new Church and the pairing made a whole lotta fucking sense. They were the progression of TSOL's transition from surf punk to hair metal injected into a new band destined to define an entire generation. Seeing Steven wearing a TSOl shirt in the "Sweet Child O'Mine" TO THIS DAY brings a smile to my face every damn time.
Oh, that they could have somehow stayed that band. No other act has so convincingly straddled that line between punk and classic American radio rock (Aerosmith mostly) and it would have been a gas to see where that took them, but fluke success struck a year after the album came out and derailed that train forever, Next thing you know, Axl is playing a fucking grand piano in bicycle shorts and tails.
Man, talk about an incendiary band that straddled the line, albeit between punk and performance art (back when a rock band could get away with staging a simulated rape as part of every show, man do I miss the '70s).
Like so many, I was well aware of the Tubes from the number of their albums in the cut-out bins. Every Musicland you ever walked into had whole fucking pallets of that record. You'd also see Remote Control, Young And Rich, and their first album in the cheapo bins few folks spent any time in back then, oh but I did.
And then one day I heard "Talk To Ya Later" on the radio and thought "Whoever this is, it is perhaps the tightest. most perfectly coke-fueled should-be hit ever recorded in the history of recorded sound.
I just prayed it wasn't Huey Lewis or Loverboy, Please God, don't let it be Loverboy!
"That was The Tubes!" says the DJ in that perfect radio voice.
Whew, dodged a bullet. Wait, did he say The Tubes?! Holy shit. You mean those albums in the cut-out bins were actually good?!
Upon procuring a copy of The Completion Backwards Principle and hearing this cohesive, edgy pop perfection that was produced by David Foster, who I knew only from his work on Alice Cooper's From The Inside. While he did an OK enough job with Alice, he made the Tubes sound like a million damn dollars the same way Mutt Lange had made AC/DC sound like two tanks going at it in a mine field.
Still, you just knew the band and producer were just feeling each other art. The proof would be in the next album Outside/Inside. When "She's A Beauty" hit radio airwaves, boom, the band were now owners of their first Top 10 single! Naturally, there would be more singles to come from this amazing record....right?
Nope, apparently, one was enough for the execs at Capitol, who then signed off on the band returning to the studio with Todd Rundgren for 1985's Love Bomb, which, surprisingly, bombed.