Countless artists pour their hearts and souls into making the "next big record". A precious few sell millions, some have maintained a comfortably small fan base, and others never rise from obscurity. But all are susceptible to one possible dubious fate: The shelf of your local thrift store. These poor unwanted remnants of the past grace the shelves of your Goodwills, your Salvation Armys, your local mom & pop shop, waiting to be rediscovered... to be loved once again.

Over my years of thrift store scouring, I gradually began to notice certain discs and records that repeatedly reveal themselves on nearly every visit to any location. It left me wondering: Why are these select albums so often discarded, what led them to this point, and will the recognition and love for them ever be renewed once again? Now I can confidently answer YES. I bestow unto you, an appreciation for all discs left behind: "Thrift Store Albums."

Friday, August 15, 2014

Michael Bolton

Take your pick of stellar hairstyling on the various Michael Bolton covers of the past, but nothing can top his 1983 self-titled debut (which is technically only the debut of "Bolton". He actually released two prior lesser-known albums under his birth name, "Bolotin"). It's got it all: flowing perm, leather jacket, and chest hair all accounted for. But fashion sensibilities aside, many forget that Bolton recorded in the vein of arena-rock before settling comfortably into the adult-contemporary scene.

Unfortunately for Bolton, his rocker days were a virtual how-to guide for poorly-aged 80's cliches, but underneath it all, I'd be lying if I said there still wasn't something about that voice. Taking into account all thrift stores, you may in truth be more likely to find his biggest hit album on the shelves, the significantly mellowed-out, "Soul Provider". Supported by a stream of singles, including a rendition of "Georgia on my Mind", Rolling Stone said that the album was, "the beginning of Bolton's descent into overdone and disrespectful covers." But little did it matter, since Bolton's platform as softie crooner was solidified, and the hair was in the history books. (I'd love to put Bolton quite literally head-to-head with 90's Kenny G and Weird Al for most mesmerizing curly locks).

Sadly (or thankfully, depending on your perspective), Bolton ditched the long locks about a decade ago and seems perfectly satisfied to recognize the cheese-ball corner of the industry where he happily resides. He even played along and poked some fun at himself in the ingenious Lonely Island song, "Jack Sparrow", where he is obsessed with film references that overtake the chorus of the groups hopeful club hit. (It's still my favorite thing that Bolton has ever done, and the image of Bolton as Erin Brockovich is forever burned into my brain.)

On the tour of all things Bolton, also don't miss his glam-metal gem, "Everybody's Crazy", and his breakout soft-rock album, "The Hunger".  Man, it just sounds like 80's goodness. Nowdays, Bolton is less of a pop act and more of a phenomenon (remember that character who is tormented by sharing his name in the movie Office Space?), but I, for one, am glad he's here and continuing to croon away, short hair and all.

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