Michael Bolton “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough: A Tribute to Hitsville U.S.A.” Hmmm…
While such a recording might seem like an automatic drop-kick in these corners, an initial listen reveals that Bolton’s vocals are actually well suited to Motown, more than anything by Otis Redding or the rougher outposts of soul.
Motown usually stayed on the uptown, pop side of the street (until Norman Whitfield came blasting in), and Bolton has a silky-smooth presentation that serves him well on the sweeter numbers popularized by Marvin Gaye, including “Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing” and “How Sweet it Is,” although he takes on “What’s Going On” to good effect.
What we really like, is that Bolton is putting money down to support the music he loves; he’ll debut this album at a live, televised event from Las Vegas’ Venetian Palazzo Feb. 8 that will benefit the Motown Historical Museum.
Thankfully, unlike Michael McDonald’s Motown albums, there are no jarring drum machines here. But unfortunately, the female duet vocals are a detriment to several numbers, notably Kelly Rowland’s on “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.”
On that song, Rowland oversings, and at times sounds like a cyborg, signaling Autotune or something similar. For an old school classic like this, when many of us are used to hearing Tammi Terrell’s thrilling, natural singing voice, it’s just wrong.
But that’s a minor part of the album, give Bolton credit for knowing how to execute a smooth, Motown male croon. Who knew?
He’ll debut the songs from this album on Feb. 8, with an HSN Live concert event (broadcast on HSN) at the Venetian Palazzo in Vegas, with special guests Smokey Robinson, Valerie Simpson, Brian and Eddie Holland, Barrett Strong, Martha Reeves and other Motown notables.
For information on the concert and CD, go to www.hsn.com/MichaelBolton