Of Michael Bolton’s three mid to late 80’s AOR masterpieces, ‘The Hunger’ is perhaps the least of the trio, but not in a sense that could be construed as negative.
Written by: Dangerzone
ARTIST: Michael Bolton
ALBUM: The Hunger
SERIAL: FC 40473 (LP), CK 40473 (CD)
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA
LINEUP: Michael Bolton – vocals, plus a cast of thousands
TRACK LISTING: 01 Hot Love * 02 Wait On Love * 03 (Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay * 04 Gina * 05 That’s What Love Is All About * 06 The Hunger * 07 You’re All I Need * 08 Take A Look At My Face * 09 Walk Away
WEBLINKS: Site Link
Of Michael Bolton’s three mid to late 80’s AOR masterpieces, ‘The Hunger’ is perhaps the least of the trio, but not in a sense that could be construed as negative. In fact the exact opposite. Another brilliant effort, Bolton eased off the hard rock heaviness of ‘Everybody’s Crazy’ and gradually shifted gears towards a more middle of the road style that reversed his fortunes commercially.
Once again Bolton surrounded himself with some of the finest AOR talent of the decade, the most notable additions Jonathan Cain and Neal Schon, fresh off the split of Journey. Given the excellence of the tracks Bolton co-wrote with Cain and Schon, it’s almost surprising that they didn’t reform Journey with Bolton at the helm, a dream lineup for sure.
Bolton made his chart breakthrough with the cover of Otis Redding‘s ‘(Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay’, a hit which helped ‘The Hunger’ go platinum providing a platform for Bolton, one he never looked back from.
AOR heights are acheived instantly through ‘Hot Love’ which immediately reveals a lessening in heavy guitar work from years past. The melody is as strong as ever, resulting in a track which ranks with Bolton’s best from the 83-85 period. Cain appears as co-write for the first time on ‘Wait On Love’ a lighter, very bouncy number which sticks to the formula that Journey were utilising during the ‘Raised On Radio’ era, less heavy but ultra melodic, made for radio indeed.
‘(Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay’ indicated that Bolton was moving away from AOR, making use of his voice in a soulful way, Bolton himself making several albums of covers in the ensuing years. Even if there isn’t much of an attraction for AOR fans here, Bolton’s vocals are so superior to just about anyones, that it’s perfectly acceptable.
Bob Halligan Jr‘s name shows up as co writer for ‘Gina’, which is of a high calibre as one would think for two AOR legends. A great blend of synths and racing guitar lines with a neat guitar solo thrown in, ‘Gina’ was a minor chart hit also.
Michael Bolton’s future direction rears itself in no uncertain fashion during the heavily orchestrated ‘That’s What Love Is All About’, in which Bolton puts all his emotion into his delivery. Some might have considered it overly sentimental, but a subtle and stirring melody works like a charm. Cain appears again as co-writer for the title track, which has more Journey overtones than ‘Hot Love’, a triumphant AOR anthem with saxophone heavy in the mix.
Schon joins Bolton and Cain for a joint written effort on ‘You’re All That I Need’, which really is Journey and Michael Bolton, considering it was just Perry, Cain and Schon left at the end of Journey‘s tenure. As good as you would think, melody and finesse pushed to the limit, all three at the peak of their AOR powers.
‘Take A Look At My Face’ is nearly pop, more keyboard heavy than guitar worthy. To round things out Diane Warren hooks up with Bolton for the first time in a soft ballad, ‘Walk Away’, the track along the same lines as ‘That’s What Love Is All About’ musically.
When Michael Bolton reappeared in 1989 with ‘Soul Provider’ it was almost in the same vein as ‘The Hunger’, only magnified a hundred time more, especially ballad wise.
Taken years later ‘the Hunger’ saw Bolton caught between this direction and his older AOR one, with the softer side clearly his choice. It was a hard blow for staunch AOR fans, but what Bolton did in three monumental albums was satisfying enough to suggest he couldn’t push it any further.
The closest Bolton has come since was perhaps the theme song ‘Go The Distance’ for the Disney film ‘Hercules’ in 1997, which proved Bolton could still turn his hand to semi AOR when he felt inspired.
Wait On Love
That’s What Love’s All About