I have a confession…I LIKE BAD MUSIC. There I said it. It is out there. Where is this grand admission coming from? Music Designer, Trevor Pronga, shared with me a book he recently bought at the local book re-seller titled Celebrity Vinyl.
I thumbed through the book and had a few laughs at some of the records listed by “celebrities” that I had no idea even made records, such All in the Family’s Carroll O’Connor and Laverne & Shirley. Then I started hitting on records that I ACTUALLY OWN or, in some cases, almost bought all those years ago, such as Telly by TV’s Kojak Telly Savalas or Can’t Let You Go by TV’s Vinnie Barbarino (John Travolta)!
It was all in good fun until I got to the page for Jack Wagner. You remember Jack don’t you? He was Dr. Peter Burns on Melrose Place. Before that, he was heart throb Frisco Jones on General Hospital. Back in 1985 Wagner had a big hit with the song “All I Need.”
The song took the soap General Hospital and the whole country by storm; so much so that the producers rushed Jack into the studio to complete an album to capitalize on the popularity. Wagner teamed with Glenn Ballard,who had at that point worked with Michael Jackson on Thriller, The Pointer Sisters, and more. Ballard would go on to produce other smash records by Paula Abdul, Alanis Morissette, No Doubt and many more. How could a record with such a stellar producer be a joke in a book found in a discount bin?
But wait, there’s more…
Around the same time, comedian Eddie Murphy was on top of the world with blockbuster films and acclaimed comedy albums on the shelf. Murphy had dabbled in singing on SNL and on his first comedy album which included two novelty songs including “Enough is Enough.”
But this wasn’t enough for Murphy. He tapped Stevie Wonder, Rick James and others to help him create How Could It Be. Allmusic.com calls the album “the worst joke Eddie Murphy ever told.” I own this record on vinyl and CD. This album of course contains Murphy’s big hit (#2 hot 100) “Party All The Time.” My favorite part of the video happens at about 3:20…Rick James joins Murphy in the studio, straps on his bass…wait a minute if Rick starts playing bass at 3:20 what was that other guy doing all this time? Why is he still playing if Rick has taken over…
“Party All The Time” is a fun song but I am partial to a sappy ballad and I have always LOVED the title track from that album “How Could It Be.” I remember seeing the video on “Video Soul” and it was the reason I bought the record. I really like the string arrangements on that track. I also own ALL of Murphy’s music albums including the one where he duets with Michael Jackson.
About a year later, another TV star released an album that also appears in the celebrity vinyl book…DON JOHNSON. Johnson rocketed to television fame as detective Sonny Crockett on Miami Vice. Johnson stacked the deck by hiring a crew of musicians that included Stevie Ray Vaughan, Dickey Betts from the Allman Brothers, Ron Wood from the Rolling Stones, Bill Champlin from Chicago, and Dweezil Zappa. WILLIE NELSON even provided backing vocals on one track! The album reached #17 on the Billboard 200 and charted a Top 5 single with the title track.
I own all the records listed above and a few more like Deion Sanders’ Prime Time featuring the song “Must Be The Money” (produced by hit maker Dallas Austin).
Music is a very personal thing and I have taken my share of ribbing for owning these hidden gems (or pieces of crap depending on your perspective). My excuse is usually something about the production…”Stevie Ray Vaughan played on that” or “Jack Wagner was on QUINCY JONES’ record label…he couldn’t have been that bad if Q signed him!” None of these excuses ever quell the laughter and that’s okay. I enjoy bad music!
Do you have any favorites that you don’t share with the general public?
– Submitted by Jose Brown, Sonic Tap