Saturday, October 15, 2022

"Soul Provider" by Michael Bolton

Song#:  3954
Date:  07/01/1989
Debut:  76
Peak:  17
Weeks:  17
Genre:  Pop, Blue-Eyed Soul

Pop Bits:  After years of trying to break through as a solo artist, Bolton was finally able to make some inroads with his fifth album The Hunger. It would reach #46 thanks to a pair of Pop Top 20 hits including the #11 remake of "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay." While the LP would not quite get to gold level status during its heyday run, thanks to Bolton's future success it would eventually become a double-platinum seller. But before that, Bolton would issue out what would be his major breakthrough, his sixth album Soul Provider. However, no one would have guessed that based on the results of this title track first single. The tune did well at AC reaching #3, but at Pop it could only add to his total of Top 20 entries. It also was a blip on the R&B chart at #71. It perhaps wasn't the most promising start, but the album's next single would kick off a string of big hits for Bolton.

ReduxReview:  I haven't been that shy on this blog about my dislike of Bolton's voice. Early on in his career when he was doing hard rock, I though his voice suited it well. However, when he moved into this pop/AC/blue-eyed soul direction it didn't work for me at all. I just found his performances to be way over the top and quite grating. Granted, he had the ability to write some good tunes, but he'd pretty much ruin most of them with an overdone vocal. There were minor exceptions along the way and this track is one of them. He still gets a bit out of control at the end, but for the most part Bolton manages to reign it in enough to let the song handle some of the work. It also featured a restrained sax part from another over-doer Kenny G. Bolton still could have pulled back more on the tune, but it wasn't too bad. I can tolerate it because the song is quite nice. A more subtle, soulful performance from another vocalist might have really made this song soar. I think it would have been a perfect vehicle for Smokey Robinson.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Getting massively famous singer/songwriter can come with some pitfalls and Bolton would experience that soon after he hit superstar status. In 1992, Bolton would earn a #4 Pop/#1 AC hit with "Love Is a Wonderful Thing," the first single from his 1991 album Time, Love & Tenderness, which would go on to sell over 8 million copies. While many people loved the tune, there were some that were not happy with it, specifically The Isley Brothers. It seems that Bolton's song, which he co-wrote with Andrew Goldmark, sounded an awful lot like their 1966 single of the same name (it failed to chart). The Isley's filed a plagiarism lawsuit  in 1992 against Bolton, Goldmark, and their publishing company. Two years later, a jury ruled in favor of the Isley Brothers. They were awarded $5 million in damages, which as the time was the largest amount for a plagiarism suit. Of course appeals would follow with Bolton and Goldmark trying to make their case. They would even take it to the Supreme Court, but the Court refused to hear the case and that meant that the ruling against Bolton, Goldmark, and the publishing company stuck. In the end, the Isley Brothers would be award $4.2 million. The bulk of that would be paid by the publishing company, but Bolton would have to fork over about $1 million while Goldmark was stuck with a $220k bill.


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