Aerosmith Honkin’ On Bobo (Columbia)
American Idol 3 greatest Soul Classics (BMG)
It’s hard to say which one of these albums is the least fun and which one of them is the most contrived. They seem equally contemptible in their hastily assembled, shoddy nature and equally highlight crappy performances from pretty good entertainers.
I blame Aerosmith more, because you wouldn’t expect an Idol cast album to be anything but haphazardly put together. And rarely have singers been so mismatched with their material. You have the hapless John Peter Lewis bravely warbling his way through “My Girl,” a song out of his emotional and vocal range. You have Leah LaBelle crushing the life out of “Betcha By Golly Wow.” Even the impeccable voice of La Toya London sounds out of place on “If You Don’t Know Me By Now,” which she renders by screaming every lyric. The quickly-departed Amy Adams delivers a sweet version of “You Make Me Feel Brand New,” but it sounds like a soap commercial.
More professionally produced, but just as unsatisfying, is Aerosmith. This is the perfect example of a good idea gone horribly wrong. “Baby Please Don’t Go” makes the case for what the album could have been. It’s fun, frantic, passionate and a little bit dirty, like the best music of Aerosmith. And it’s obvious the band had a good time with “Jesus Is On The Main Line.” Besides that, however, it’s pure mediocrity. Either the band was distracted or they recorded the disc in one take, because it just doesn’t stand up to the Aerosmith name.
While neither album is worth purchasing, the Idol album has more train wreck moments, if that’s what you’re into, although the Aerosmith disc gives it a run for its money.
Memo to Aerosmith: Just because people have been telling you for years to record a blues album, it doesn’t mean you have to. Some things are better left undone.