Pros:Some of this isn't bad. Etheridge's voice is fine enough.
Cons:The actual quality of the songs is sadly mediocre.
The Bottom Line: You've got to enjoy Melissa Etheridge's image or not hate Rod Stewart to enjoy this. The songs just aren't that good. It's a passable album, though.
Recommend this product?
Similar Features B-
Chrome Plated Heart C
Anyway I Do B+
Precious Pain C-
Don't You Need C
The Late September Dogs D-
Watching You D+
Bring Me Some Water B
I Want You B+
Melissa Etheridge is one of the more prominent adult contemporary artist around. She's not necessarily prominent because of her music but more because of her voice. It's a very powerful voice that, more than anything else, sounds like the female version of Rod Stewart. Another comparison to Stewart can be noted also musically. Although, there's nothing on her 1988 debut album (the one that I'm reviewing) can really measure up to most of Rod Stewart's greatest songs.
This really isn't a great album. There's very little on here that's actually memorable in any real sense. Something that will illustrate to you how bad this album is: The best songs on here are the ones that sound the most like cheesified Rod Stewart-esque radio power-pop songs! Most of the rest of the songs are either boring ("Watching You," "Occasionally") or totally embarassing ("The Late September Dogs"). Even the good songs on the album ("Similar Features" and "Like the Way I Do" and "I Want You") aren't very merit-filled. If you have a thing for Etheridge's voice, then this album is worth getting, of course. But you shouldn't. You should be interested in music more than the singer.
"Similar Features" is a very powerfully sung (though it its an actual 'powerful' song in the emotional sense has yet to be determined). Etheridge certainly gives a confident performance that sounds like she wishes that she was a man (namely Rod Stewart). The melody should have been catchier considering this is meant to be radio-pop. The instrumentation is generic but for 1988, it could have been a lot worse.
"Chrome Plated Heart" sounds less like it was meant to be a single. Unfortunately, it's not as good, as well, even though the instrumentation is less identified with late 80s radio music. Etheridge's vocal performance is as laughable/passionate as it was on the previous song, even though that might not have been totally necessary here.
"Like the Way I Do" is actually more closely tied with late 80s radio pop, but it's better for some reason that's probably tied with the communist conspiracy. It starts out kind of boring, but it picks up some of its steam in an effective way by sounding more 80s and more like Rod Stewart. That weird.
"Precious Pain" is a ballad about something I don't care about. Etheridge sounds much more adult-contemporaryish (as opposed to Rod Stewartish) here than ever. This song is really boring. The melody is only so-so, the instrumentation is so-so (although the use of the acoustic guitar over anything else was well-done), and I don't care about the lyrical theme. Etheridge is so easy to make fun of.
"Don't You Need" starts out boring-like with a dull melody but then it picks up around 2 minutes of it. It sounds very 80s pop indeed and, unfortunately, it's not very convincing. Etheridge still has the power, and I suppose that's why this was popular. Nothing else is really notable.
"The Late September Dogs" is the most unapologetically adult contemporary song yet. This is just as if I turned on a radio station that I would never listen to in my right mind in 1988 and then threw up and then had to turn this stupid garbage off. The percussion instruments in the chorus were truly misfired. This song is an embarassment. It's also way too long. (Six and a half minutes. Man.)
"Occasionally" uses the occasional instrument other than the bongo drum (occasionally meaning that that's really the only instrument on here). That alone (with Etheridge's over-passionate vocals too of course) doesn't make a great song. This is really quite boring. Good thing it's only less than three minutes long!
"Watching You", while it might not be tasteless, it is incredibly boring and plodding. It's over five minutes long and it never once actually gets interesting. It threatens to a few times, but it was only a trick. Like that one trick where I thought that Melissa Etheridge was straight. I don't want her anyway.
"Bring Me Some Water" ... Yeah, she needs the water, because she's parched for melody. There really wasn't a memorable melody yet in this album. SOme of them were formidable, but nothing too memorable. Fortunately, this is one of the formidable ones (and it's also a much more hard-rocking song with some 80s drums and some good electric guitar crunches). Even though it rocks, it doesn't rock that much unfortunately.
"I Want You" is a surprise. Surpise in that it's an actual good song that's not very married to late 80s power-pop music. And the melody, while not a masterpiece, works well enough. The instrumentation is appropriate and not cheesy and the song works well with Etheridges' hilariously passionate voice.