You Call That a Mountain (Audio CD),01 August, 2000|
List price $17.98
A mound, not a mountain / 2
Athletes and musicians have a common trait: they often stay on the playing field long after they should have retired-or at least, moved to a management position. It's a tough transition being long in the tooth and trying to recapture the charm and vitality of years gone by, but it's a theme that's been told for-a few thousand years? With that in mind, I am sitting at my PC, trying to shake off the thought that a nice guy like B. J. Thomas has returned to the studio-and has found himself trying for a Gloria Swanson-like "Sunset Boulevard" release. It's not that he's lost his voice-that's just as honey-smooth as ever-it's just that he's gone retrograde on some songs and it looks like knee-high black socks worn with Bermuda shorts.
Don't misunderstand me-B. J. is a good fellow, and there is a clear market for him-he would go over great with a better selection, especially something more in line with the crowd from Nashville or on a cruise liner heading for the Caribbean. He starts off with the title song and it's a good tune-it would certainly do well at any respectable Saturday night dance or even at a social prom-but the rest of the set just has to be left from where they came-in better days. "What's Forever For" may not even get to next week, let alone eternity-unless B. J. wants to cheer up some elderly women in a senior's home. However, he does come back quickly on track three, "Somebody's Gonna Lose," and thank heavens he still has the strength and honest sincerity that has been his trademark. As I said, with the right material, a good tune and a nice backup vocalist behind him, he's an old friend who makes you feel like lighting the logs in the fireplace. "Most of All" generically gets the job done, and "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" is an acoustic-and-piano slow dance that would work at a romantic restaurant setting, especially when he reaches at the refrain for still-pure high notes. However, he unearths "Another Done Somebody Wrong Song," and I am seeing ladies with blue hair gently waving their heads. If this was his intention, then all right for them and him, too.
"I Lost Me" trembles like a bird with a broken wing, and gee, didn't this genre get taken to new levels of pastiche with Barry Manilow? Lord, no--it's time to trouble Brian Wilson, a guy who has paid his dues with enough dysfunctional family problems to earn someone a Ph.D for analysis, as B. J. tries to milk "Don't Worry Baby." Sorry, B. J., that's the cat you're trying to milk-not the cow. He's not getting the hint, because he's put the bucket down for "I'm Going Home." As little Spanky McFarland said to the rest of the Rascals, "It's spoiled!" Even a play on a title doesn't get a break: "Raindrops Keep Falling My Head" just makes me think that Paul Newman is now in his 70s, Robert Redford has lines in his face, and Katherine Ross is probably a grandmother. B. J., your social security check is ready for direct deposit.
Do I call this a mountain? No-this is more like a sand bunker, and someone ought to let him call for a mulligan. At least he's got a chance to play on the senior circuit, and if Jack, Arnie, and Lee can use a fourth man, then maybe he'll find a place at the 19th hole-they can swap stories and sing about the good ol' days at the same time.