Singer/songwriter Michael Bolton emerged in the mid-'80s as a major soft rock balladeer. Originally, he recorded under his real name, Michael Bolotin, turning up on RCA Records in the mid-'70s singing cover tunes and his own blue-eyed soul songs in a voice reminiscent of Joe Cocker. He then became the lead singer of Blackjack, a heavy metal band that made two albums for Polydor before splitting up in the early '80s. Looking to relaunch his career, he changed his name to Michael Bolton and signed to Columbia Records as a solo artist in 1983. Bolton's achievements include selling more than 75 million records, recording eight top 10 albums and two number-one singles on the Billboard charts, as well as winning multiple American Music Awards and Grammy Awards.
Since he became the music director and conductor of the San Francisco Symphony, Michael Tilson Thomas has largely focused his attention on presenting the symphonies of Gustav Mahler in splendid audiophile recordings, for which he has received critical and popular praise. So his first hybrid SACD of works by Claude Debussy comes as a surprise, not only because the sound world is quite different from Mahler's, but Tilson Thomas' interest in Debussy has seemed less obsessive over the years.
Michael O'Brien, who is now with the group NEWSONG, has a beautiful, devout, and inspired voice, as evidenced on his first recording. Whether soulfully injecting such winning up-tempo numbers as "Nothing's Gonna Turn Me Around" and "Higher and Higher," or wrapping that fine tenor voice around the beautiful "If Ever I Forget," "Free Again" or "Back to You," Michael demonstrates his belief in his music and his Lord in this wonderful package.
Michael Nyman's 8 Lust Songs comes with a Parental Advisory warning for explicit content, but the songs are in Italian, so only a small number of Italian speakers in the English-speaking world will have the opportunity to be offended (unless, of course, you read the translations in the booklet). Nyman describes the settings of these explicit sixteenth century poems by Pietro Aretino – essentially bedroom dialogues between lovers – as a natural progression in his work, which, since his days as a student, has frequently been concerned with sex.
Off the Wall was a massive success, spawning four Top Ten hits (two of them number ones), but nothing could have prepared Michael Jackson for Thriller. Nobody could have prepared anybody for the success of Thriller, since the magnitude of its success was simply unimaginable – an album that sold 40 million copies in its initial chart run, with seven of its nine tracks reaching the Top Ten (for the record, the terrific "Baby Be Mine" and the pretty good ballad "The Lady in My Life" are not like the others). This was a record that had something for everybody, building on the basic blueprint of Off the Wall by adding harder funk, hard rock, softer ballads, and smoother soul – expanding the approach to have something for every audience…