Not "classic"-- but helluvalotta style
HLR | Philadelphia, PA USA | 10/23/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"If you prefer McDonald's pop, warm ballad-light style, then you may not like this cd. On the other hand, if you are open to hearing the depth and breadth of McDonald's interpretation and r&b/rock/folksy-pop/gospel styles, then you will definitely want Blue Obsession among your cd collection.
This cd took a long time to grow on me. I did not like "Blue Obsession" when I first played through it a few times. And except for 2 tracks that I would program to play with other MM favorites, the rest of the cd stayed idle on the rack for well over a year. (Although I now like the song, "All I Need" should NOT have been the first track-- big production mistake! I think it turned me off to giving the rest of the cd an honest chance.)
Blue Obsession has a more darker, grittier sound than we are accustomed to hearing with McDonald. So, it took a little while for me to adjust my ears, where I probably would not have had to do so for another artist. Whenever I shuffled this cd in with McDonald's lighter and familiar tunes, Blue Obsession played well as a nice contrast. Yet, the cd can also stand on its own as a good body of work. "Where Would I Be Now" and "You Can't Make it Love" were always my favorite tracks, and eventually "No Love to Be Found", "Build Upon It" and "The Meaning of Love" really drew me into this cd. My hindsight is 20/20: There really is not a bad track on this cd. Blue Obsession is now among my top 3 favorites for Michael McDonald cds.
I'm curious to know if other MM fans think Blue Obsession should have followed his Motown cds rather than preceeded them."
The great beginning of Michael's comeback
Bud Gott | New Castle, DE USA | 11/01/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I know he never really went away, but I consider this album the beginning of Michael's "comeback." True, it wasn't a big commercial success, but I think this was his most solid album since No Looking Back (his second solo album.) There's quite a few VERY good songs on here.
After this album came his Christmas album, which I think sounded a lot like his early Doobie Brothers music in parts. It's awesome. Then, of course, came Michael's recent fantastic Motown albums.
Michael's enjoying incredible success right now in his career. I think this album helped get him to where he is now. It's DEFINITELY worth checking out if you're a fan of his."
Maddeningly uneven--has a lot going both for it & against it
Dave | United States | 05/28/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Michael McDonald's long-awaited "Blue Obsession" was finally released in 2000, and it's almost beyond belief what a frustrating listen it is. Teaming up with Tommy Sims, who produced a majority of the album, "Blue Obsession" finds McDonald simultaneously trying to return to his classic late '70s/ early '80s sound while moving forward into gospel-flavored territory, and the results are uneven to say the least. The album gets off to a painfully flawed start with "All I Need"--it's actually quite a strong piece of raw material, plus it's got cool orchestration and effectively harkens back to the Philly Soul sound of the early '70s, but it suffers badly from Sims' obnoxious co-lead vocals and spoken word parts. Similarly, "Kikwit Town" starts off as a haunting, stripped-down ballad, but gets dragged down by the overloud drums that come in about 2 & 1/2 minutes into the song, as well as the distracting sound effects. "Obsession Blues" is a nice, bluesy rocker, but it fails to really get the blood flowing the way it so desperately wants to. The vamping "No Love To Be Found" is a pretty bland and generic piece of horn-laden R & B. "Someday You Will" is a dull attempt at an uplifting ballad. There are some minor standouts with the gloomy, soothing ballad "Where Would I Be Now"; the affecting, stripped-down album-closer "You Can't Make It Love"; and the pleasant adult contemporary ballad "The Meaning Of Love", though the latter is marred by Sims' overloud programmed drums. There are 2 covers--the version of Neil Young's "Down By The River", with backing vocals from Karla Bonoff and Christopher Cross (two voices that really go ideally together), is nicely done, although it sadly does away with harmony vocals on the chorus; and the Motown cover "Ain't That Peculiar", produced by David Pack of Ambrosia fame, is overdone, but still pretty funky and has infectious McDonald vocals. Two of the songs are absolute gems that really make the album as a whole feel like a major missed opportunity--"Build Upon It" is a rousing, massively funky anthem with an impassioned McDonald vocal; and the grooving "Open The Door" is a gloriously retro track that sounds like it came straight out of the early '80s and features splendid background/ counterpoint vocals from Michael's wife Amy Holland. "Open The Door" also shows what Tommy Sims can do when he gets his act together--McDonald & Sims wrote the song, plus Sims plays bass, Fender Rhodes piano, guitars, & synthesizer on it. McDonald is clearly trying hard on this album, and he comes through some of his most soulful vocals ever; however, the soulful vocals alone do NOT make for a work of genius--overall, this album is severely botched, and listening to it, there's no escaping the feeling that it could have been so much better. "Blue Obsession" is still worth some time for any serious McDonald fan, especially for the pair of definite gems, but again, it's a frustrating missed opportunity."