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Michael Bolton – Gems – The Very Best Of (Review)

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 1 out of 5

HE MAY be a multiple Grammy award winning singer and songwriter but Michael Bolton is an artist who continues to have a polarising effect on people: you either love him or hate him.

After sitting through nigh on two hours of ‘greatest hits’ and Gems, I have to admit to erring on the side of the latter. Gems, in particular, required a test of patience.

A series of duets and cover versions, the album sees Bolton revisiting (or murdering) classics such as U2’s Pride (In The Name of Love), Sting’s Fields of Gold and the timeless likes of When A Man Loves A Woman, Over The Rainbow and Hallelujah.

Yet, without hardly any exception, his soft rock, laboured style of delivery drains the life out of a lot of the songs and makes them so earnest as to be suffocating.
Sting’s Fields of Gold, in particular, features Eva Cassidy in a supposedly tender duet that rings every ounce of brightness from the original. It’s delivered in such fragile fashion that it’s practically moribund. Bolton’s aching vocals are particularly over-cooked.

Similarly, U2’s Pride, which is stripped of any decency by the time Bolton has finished with it… the soft rock guitars trying to emulate The Edge but lacking any grit or, well, edge. It’s horrid.

There’s a nice Spanish guitar backing for Over The Rainbow (featuring Paula Fernandes) but even that cover version pales by comparison to the far more spritely and joyful version recently recorded by Matthew Morrison and Gwyneth Paltrow.

His piano-backed take on Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah, meanwhile, is played for maximum sentimentality and comes complete with backing from MB’s Children’s Choir. But it’s sickness inducing and makes you pine for the original.

Of the greatest hits package, the songs speak for themselves and serve as reminders of why Bolton has remained such a divisive figure – the cheese and schmaltz of How Can We Be Lovers and How Am I Supposed To Live Without You speaking volumes for the type of over-cooked sincerity you can expect.

There are more cover versions, too, with Bolton once again bringing his over-earnest style to the likes of (Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay, Georgia On My Mind and When A Man Loves A Woman (again). It’s a long, long listen that leaves you desperately in need of something breezy and fun.

Track listing:

  1. Love Is Everything (feat. Rascal Flatts)
  2. Fields of Gold (feat. Eva Cassidy)
  3. Sajna (feat. A.R. Rahman)
  4. Pride (In the Name of Love) (feat. Anne Akiko Meyers)
  5. I’m Not Ready (feat. Delta Goodrem)
  6. Over The Rainbow (feat. Paula Fernandes)
  7. When A Man Loves a Woman / It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World (medley feat. Seal)
  8. The Prayer (feat. Lara Fabian)
  9. You Are So Beautiful (feat. Chris Botti)
  10. Make You Feel My Love (feat. Helene Fischer)
  11. Hallelujah (feat. MB’s Children’s Choir)
  12. Steel Bars (feat. Orianthi)

The Very Best Of

  1. Soul Provider
  2. (Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay
  3. How Am I Supposed To Live Without You
  4. How Can We Be Lovers.
  5. When I’m Back On My Feet Again
  6. Georgia On My Mind
  7. Time, Love And Tenderness
  8. When A Man Loves A Woman
  9. Missing You Now
  10. Steel Bars
  11. Said I Loved You… But I Lied
  12. Lean On Me
  13. Can I Touch You…There?
  14. I Promise You
  15. I Found Someone
  16. A Love So Beautiful
  17. This River

  1. Obviously you’re a hater. GTFOH!

    Jake    Mar 25    #