Monday, May 9, 2016

Andrew Ridgeley-Son Of Albert (1990)


Remember this face? 80's music lovers may vividly recall that Andrew Ridgeley was the other half of the British pop group WHAM!, performing alongside iconic superstar George Michael and enjoying such memorable hits as "Everything She Wants" (my personal all-time WHAM! favorite!), "Last Christmas", "Careless Whisper" and "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go". Though I've felt that it was George's superstardom that was partially responsible for me having forgotten all about this virtual 'mystery man' of the duo hiding in the shadows, so to speak. And since I had often identified those early WHAM! hits as being George Michael hits, plus the fact that I continue to hear George's vocals in my head when I even think about any of those early WHAM! hits, I honestly admit that I never knew what Andrew sounded like himself. Well I finally solved a piece of that mystery last night when, for the first time ever, I satisfied some long-time curiosity (which was shared by another George Michael fan) and peeked into Andrew's solo music career, discovering his one and only album release entitled "Son Of Albert". With so much WHAM! slamming into my thoughts, I had pop on my mind before turning this new page into my latest music chapter when I should've instead been thinking 80's hair band rock—at least that was the prevailing sound I gathered in the 45+ minutes I toured with him. Definitely different than his days with WHAM!, opting to dazzle audiences instead with a more rugged rock sound. Although Andrew's rather mild voice is not the typically gritty hair band rocker's voice that I'm accustomed to hearing in conjunction with the usual loud banging drums and screaming guitars, it somehow has a catchy appeal nonetheless, which meant that the handful of songs he recorded sometimes took a moment of getting used to before they grew on me. That includes the one that was advertised as a big success story for him: "Shake". Played that one first as a sort of 'just because' thing, and after the slow introductory movement eased me into the song, it breaks out into one heck of a jam! For some reason, I had this idea that the song would have some kind of dance theme attached to it, but it's instead about Ridgeley playing a little rough with his rag doll of a sweetheart, confessing his desires to shake her and break her, as a few of the lyrics go. But it after 'shaking that one off' and checking out the other tunes above and beyond when I started to gain my best entertainment value. "Red Dress" totally got me seeing red—absolutely perfect 80's-sounding hair band-style rock, the kind that jumps start my music senses and gets the energy flowing! And it's not just the music itself that's red hot—the steamy descriptiveness of the lady being his sugar cotton candy with the long legs and juicy lips being hotter than a rocket on the Fourth of July adds some sizzling spice to the rockin' flavor! I cite "Red Dress", then as the catalyst for me and my ears well-receiving the other power jams, finding further thrills with "The Price Of Love", "Flame", "Kiss Me", and my #2 pick on this album, "Mexico". And can you guess why "Mexico" stands as my #2? Spanish lyrics, of course, which is only a portion of the attraction that turns this song into a surprising treat. What beings as a typical power rock jam and gets infectious with the catchy hooks 'Here we go, Mexico!' and 'Señoritas, we got the cash' slides smoothly into a festive Latin salsa party midway both through then during the closeout movements with the ethnic chants of 'Que bonita, hola!' and the groovy Latin rhythms to the point where you've forgotten this was a rock song altogether! Hidden deep within the rockin' goodness is the charming gem "Baby Jane". The slow bluesy groove and the lonely melody of the harmonica automatically signaled that this song would have a sad theme to it, and this time I was correct. 'Somebody took my Baby Jane', an emotionally depressed Ridgeley sings—oh so sad, yet oh so sweet:

1. Red Dress
2. Shake
3. The Price Of Love
4. Flame
5. Hangin'
6. Mexico
7. Big Machine
8. Kiss Me
9. Baby Jane
10. Shake (Hardcore)

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