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Bolton, Michael - 1989 Soul Provider

ARTIST: Bolton, Michael
ALBUM: Soul Provider
SERIAL: CK 45012
YEAR: 1989


LINEUP: Michael Bolton - lead vocals * Richard Marx, Suzie Benton - guest vocals * Walter Afanasieff - keyboards, bass, drums, percussion * Michael Omartian - keyboards, drums, background vocals * Steve Lukather, Dann Huff, Chris Camozzi, Michael Landau, John McCurry - guitars * Kenny G., Michael Brecker, Jerry Peterson - saxophone * Brad Cole, Robbie Buchanan, Richard Tee, Philip Ashley, Guy Roche, Diane Warren, Barry Mann, Greg Mangiafico - keyboards * Eric Rehl - synthesizer * Neil Stubenhaus, Hugh McDonald - bass * Chris Parker, Bobby Chouinard - drums * Paulinho Da Costa - percussion * Jocelyn Brown, Vicki Sue Robinson, Syreeta Wright - background vocals

TRACK LISTING: 01 Soul Provider * 02 Georgia On My Mind * 03 It's Only My Heart * 04 How Am I Supposed To Live Without You * 05 How We Can Be Lovers * 06 You Wouldn't Know Love * 07 When I'm Back On My Feet Again * 08 From Now On * 09 Love Cuts Deep * 10 Stand Up For Love


By 1989, Michael Bolton was well on his way toward commercial success. It was like the corporate machine was readying itself to assimilate Mr Bolton deep into the bowels of the money chamber. Frighteningly similar to The Borg out of Star Trek - The Next Generation, 1989's 'Soul Provider' was an indication that Michael wasn't wearing Borg attire just quite yet, and he manages on this album at least - to fire off a few good salvoes of AOR, and to demonstrate what it was he was leaving behind before disappearing over the horizon into mom and pop territory. 'Soul Provider' would be his proverbial meal ticket..

The Songs
Following on the back of his 1987 effort 'The Hunger', this would be the album to send him on his way to superstar status - as it would turn out. There are a couple of sweet moments on this album. 'How Am I Supposed To Live Without You', the song Michael originally wrote for Laura Branigan (R.I.P) back in 1982 is given free license by its own author - Michael's own rendition is a different take, but is a beautiful sounding part-ballad nonetheless. The guitar solo is the cream on the cake. 'You Wouldn't Know Love' is a song that was also pounded out by Cher on her 'Heart Of Stone' LP the same year this came out. I like both versions, this one marginally so. 'It's Only My Heart' strikes in the same vein as John Parr, whereas 'How Can We Be Lovers' is the precursor to some of the material found on 1991's 'Time Love And Tenderness' album. Elsewhere, we get a smattering of ballads including 'When I'm Back On My Feet Again', plus his duet with Suzy Benson which has all the hallmarks of an Amy Grant duet. Then there's the touch-tender balladry of 'Stand Up For Love' with it's astute electric piano and subtle synth layers. When Bolton reverts to his blues roots, tracks like the opening pair of 'Soul Provider' and 'Georgia On My Mind' are a reminder of where he came from and where he ended up heading off to.

In Summary
The album spawned five top 10 singles: 'Soul Provider', 'How Can We Be Lovers', 'Georgia On My Mind', 'When I'm Back On My Feet Again' and 'How Am I Supposed To Live Without You'. The album hovered in the charts for nigh on two years, and by 1994 it had achieved 6x platinum status. The aforementioned 'How Am I Supposed To Live Without You' won Bolton a Grammy Award in 1990 for best pop male vocal performance, plus it was voted BMI's 'song fo the year' for 1990. After this success, Bolton moved into the commercial stratosphere, and apart from one or two good moments on 1991' 'Time Love And Tenderness' ('Iron Bars' being a good example) his music lost a lot of appeal for hardened melodic rockers. However, success was well overdue for Bolton, and certainly no one this side of the melodic rock black stump should begrudge him for that.. though I'm sure a lot of us would love for him to record 'Everybodys Crazy Part II'.. lol!

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#1 | gdazegod on June 23 2008 06:00:00
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#2 | reyno-roxx on June 23 2008 10:03:15
Met Sir Michael at a meet and greet in 1988 in London when Derek Oliver, myself and assorted K! staff members shook the great man's hand and watched mouths agape as he played a one song acoustic set (without the aid of a microphone) singing 'Sitting On The Dock Of The Bay' and filled the room with THAT voice. The free buffet, strawberries and cream laid on by the label were great too. LOL.
From a melodic rock point of view its been down hill ever since, but the man truly deserves the success that did eventually come his way even if the music he offers now isn't that palatable.
#3 | george_the_jack on June 23 2008 23:37:52
Very good laid back AOR album...Glad to see it being reviewed.Title track and "You Wouldn't Know Love" are 2 of my favourite Bolton tunes.
#4 | jeffrey343 on July 15 2012 20:04:55
This was the next evolution from "The Hunger", more along the lines of smooth adult rock. I liked it OK enough back in 1989, and it was all over radio. "You Wouldn't Know Love" was a good one, and "Love Cuts Deep" is another one I like. I really don't think this is too far from what Journey did with "Raised On Radio" a few years earlier.
#5 | Metal Loaf on April 13 2013 21:03:19
This records a bit of a guilty pleasure for me. I think the middle of the album is the strongest, from "It's Only My Heart" through to "When I'm Back On My Feet Again". The ballads at the end are nice enough but the opening tracks aren't great. "Soul Provider" is a bit too smooth jazz for me and I've never been very convinced by Bolton's covers of classic soul songs.

He certainly deserved the success, though. It's just too bad he didn't get it with Everybody's Crazy.

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