CD Review of Rock My World by Bret Michaels
Recommended if you like
Poison, Kiss, Motley Crue
Label
VH1 Classic Records
Bret Michaels:
Rock My World

Reviewed by Greg M. Schwartz

P
oison singer Bret Michaels has seen his career revived with Poison reuniting and touring over the past few years – and, of course, the success of his hit reality TV show, VH1’s “Rock of Love.” Whether you dig his music or not, any guy who’s ever dreamed about the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle has to feel a bit of envy watching a bevy of beauties battle each other for Michaels’ affections each week.

Most of the songs on Rock My World seem as if they’ve been written as soundtrack material for the show, and let’s hope so for Michaels’ sake. There’s a paint-by-numbers, cookie-cutter feel to many of these tunes, and it’s hard to believe this is the best Michaels could come up with for a solo album. Eighties-style pop metal still has a nostalgic cache for many, and Michaels helped pen a number of semi-classics from the era, such as “Talk Dirty to Me,” “Nothing but a Good Time,” “Look What the Cat Dragged In,” and “Ride the Wind,” but there’s little on this album that matches up.

Viewers of “Rock of Love” will find the opening track, “Go That Far,” familiar – the song is used in the opening segment, detailing Michaels’ rock star lifestyle. But standing on its own, it’s kind of cheesy. Ditto for the formulaic cock rock of “Bittersweet,” “Strange Sensation,” and “Menace to Society.”

The latter features lyrics such as “At work my boss is a jerk, he tries to keep me down,” as if Michaels is still trying to write for the young blue-collar crowd he was aiming at 20 years ago, and it just doesn’t work when you’re 44. Another thing that doesn’t work in the song is lyrics about rebelling against the system, such as: “TV sells me / The perfect life I am supposed to lead / Wake up get dressed / Don’t step out of line / Yes they shove it down our throats / Makes me want to choke.” Memo to Mr. Michaels – it’s rather difficult to believe such anti-establishment sentiments when viewers of “Rock of Love” are watching you and your lady friends chauffeured around Los Angeles in a stretch Hummer limo, quite probably the most environmentally offensive, establishment-supporting vehicle ever made.

“Fallen” and “All I Ever Needed” both sound like knockoffs of Poison’s power ballad hit “Every Rose Has Its Thorn.” There’s nothing wrong with writing some acoustic-oriented songs, but just rehashing old hits doesn’t cut it.

On the plus side, “Songs of Life” uses acoustics to build into a soulful mid-tempo rocker about love, pain and sacrifice. “Raine” has a similarly soulful vibe and works as a rocking love song in that ‘80s pop-metal vein, recalling some of Paul Stanley’s influential work with Kiss. Another standout track is “Right Now, Right Here,” the heaviest song on the album; it delves into more of an alt-rock sound, and Michaels delivers some of his strongest vocals, flashing welcome potential for someone with such a strong voice.

“Driven” has the Poison vibe, but with more of a ‘70s sound, something Michaels might do well to explore more at this point. There’s really no reason he should feel compelled to restrain his sound in ‘80s production trappings with the heavily reverbed drums and basic power chords. “Start Again” has a bit of a “Purple Rain” vocal vibe, and there’s no doubt Michaels knows how to put together a catchy vocal melody. It’s the derivative songwriting and lackluster production value that sink this album.

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