Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Best Albums You Never Heard

By Kurt Torster

Eric Martin “I’m Only Fooling Myself” (1987)

Sometimes “best” depends on what you’re in to. If you’re tastes run to the eclectic or different, than this album is not for you. But, if you’re like me and can appreciate a finely performed pop song as much as you can a Led Zeppelin blues jam then this over-produced slab of confection (and that’s meant with nothing but affection) is for you.

The transition from the mid to late 80s were an interesting time in pop music. Punchy new wave guitars were being pushed aside for as much keyboards as you could fit into a 3 minutes song. Suddenly every song on the charts sounded like it came straight out of a movie.

Eric Martin released a rather spunky hard rocker a few years earlier to little success. Trying a different approach on this second outing by surrounding himself with some of the best studio musicians and songwriters in the business, the result is a superior vocalist singing the crap out of simple almost danceable tunes and elevating them far above where they ended up.

Kicking off with the “how it never was a hit single is beyond me” track in “These Are The Good Times” (which also featured on the Iron Eagle soundtrack), things find a a comfortable groove and never stray far. From the beautiful soul of “Everytime I Think Of You” the infectious swing of the title track to the outright arena rock of “Crazy World Like This” the whole affair brings to mind Steve Perry’s “Street Talk,” Phil Collins affliction for horns and the best of Hall & Oates white boy soul. There’s really not a song here that, with just the right push, couldn’t have been pulled aside and made into a hit.

Obviously, Eric Martin would go on to much bigger things as the lead singer for Mr. Big and most of these songs would go on to be covered by other artists.