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Michael Bolton: Everybody's Crazy - Album Of The Week Club review

Pop balladeer and mullet king Michael Bolton used to rock. No, he really did. And Everybody's Crazy is the evidence

Michael Bolton: Everybody's Crazy cover art
(Image: © Columbia Records)
Michael Bolton: Everybody's Crazy

Michael Bolton: Everybody's Crazy cover art

(Image credit: Columbia Records)

Save Our Love
Everybody's Crazy
Can't Turn It Off
Call My Name
Everytime
Desperate Heart
Start Breaking My Heart
You Don't Want Me Bad Enough
Don't Tell Me It's Over

What’s not to love about former Blackjack singer Michael Bolton’s fourth solo album Everybody’s Crazy (the second to use the abbreviated form of real surname Bolotin)? He used to rock, you know.  

With a voice so powerful that he once auditioned for Black Sabbath, Bolton delivered in Everybody’s Crazy a melodic rock tour de force, with the anthem Save Our Love and the power ballad Call My Name its devastating emotional peaks. The title track set mature rock fans blubbing with joy, and Desperate Heart was later covered by Jefferson Starship.

Joined by ex-Blackjack and future Kiss guitarist Bruce Kulick, plus AOR royalty in Touch keyboardist Mark Mangold, Balance founder Peppy Castro and future LeRoux singer Terry Brock, Bolton wrapped his lungs around some of the genre’s most accomplished compositions - not for nothing did Classic Rock select Everybody’s Crazy as one of the 50 Greatest AOR Albums Ever.    

Alas, Bolton then turned his back on melodic rock, cultivated the worst mullet in history and became a granny pleaser of the most embarrassing kind.

Every week, Album of the Week Club listens to and discusses the album in question, votes on how good it is, and publishes our findings, with the aim of giving people reliable reviews and the wider rock community the chance to contribute. 

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Other albums released in March 1985

  • 7800° Fahrenheit - Bon Jovi
  • Behind the Sun - Eric Clapton
  • First and Last and Always - The Sisters of Mercy
  • Birdy - Peter Gabriel
  • Disturbing the Peace - Alcatrazz
  • The Power Station - The Power Station
  • The Right to Rock - Keel
  • Southern Accents - Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
  • Tao - Rick Springfield
  • Rogues Gallery - Slade
  • Bad Moon Rising - Sonic Youth
  • Equator - Uriah Heep
  • Metal Heart - Accept
  • Hell Awaits - Slayer
  • Lost and Found - Jason & the Scorchers
  • Night Time - Killing Joke
  • Up on the Sun - Meat Puppets
  • Vox Humana - Kenny Loggins

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What they said...

"One of the most perfect melodic rock albums of all time. With Kiss Guitarist Bruce Kulick providing the riffs and solos and Mark Mangold (Touch) helping with the songwriting and keyboards this is one album everyone should hear. His voice also had the richness of Paul Rodgers, Steve Marriott, Sam Cooke and Wilson Pickett. However, on this album, he created a masterpiece." (Now Spinning

"Michael Bolton's first Columbia album had offered some reason to suspect he had a future in the pop-rock mainstream despite his arena rock tendencies. But on his second album, he endeavoured to make a metal-tinged copy of Foreigner, one in which even his distinctive voice was a minor element among the guitar solos and keyboard flourishes." (AllMusic)

"Although its classic status is sometimes overstated, Everybody’s Crazy is a classy piece of accomplished, catchy hard rock, well played by a line-up of excellent players (including guitarist Bruce Kulick, later of Kiss) and with great (if occasionally OTT) vocal performances by Bolton himself." (Record Collector)

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What you said...

Mike Canoe: Me: The club picked a Michael Bolton album this week.

Wife: OH GOD!

Me: It's actually not that bad.

Wife: Who are you and what have you done with my husband?

Obviously not everybody's crazy about even the idea of a Michael Bolton album as classic rock. I was as shocked as anyone else to see this week's pick, but it's a pleasant enough flashback in the vein of 80s versions of Foreigner, John Waite, or as many have mentioned, Kiss. It's not something I would ever buy, but there are a few songs I wouldn't necessarily punch off the radio either.

Mostly it was interesting to see misconceptions I had of Michael Bolton fall away. I was expecting an album worth of vocal histrionics along the lines of "Listen to how powerful I caaan SIIIIIING!!!" but he kept his voice in check to suit the song.

Which leads to another surprise: Bolton wrote or co-wrote all of the songs. I figured him as more of an interpreter of someone else's songs and fully expected to see song doctors like Desmond Child or Dianne Warren listed in the credits. Even if you don't like the songs, it's hard to deny Bolton had his ears tuned to what was commercially successful at the time.

Surprise #3 was producer Neil Kernon, whose name sounded familiar. Double checked and, yep, he produced one of my favourite metal albums of all time, Queensrÿche's Rage for Order. A little more digging reveals he produced my favourite Dokken album too, Under Lock and Key. Tellingly, he also produced mega-albums for the incredibly successful pop duo Hall & Oates. You can fit Michael Bolton into the music continuum somewhere between the pop metal of Dokken and the pop soul of Hall & Oates.

As others have mentioned, the album is keyboard heavy and soundtrack ready. But guitarist Bruce Kulick gets to reel off some good solos on You Don't Want Me Bad Enough and the title track. Save Our Love is a strong opener, full of the chugging rhythm and harmony vocals that made many an 80s pop rock shine. The rest don't really grab my interest but none truly embarrass me either.

Everybody's Crazy is slick commercial pop and, to beat a pun to death, I can understand why everybody's not crazy about it. It's not a new favourite for me, but I've liked it more than other picks, especially another '80s corporate rock album by a highly anticipated supergroup. I'm firm on that.

Mark Herrington: I gave this a spin , and wished I hadn’t.

Musical movements often collapse under their own weight of drivel and lack of imagination. Only to rekindle with new directions and talent at the point of implosion. So it was in the mid to late 80s when stuff like this started being released more. When this was released it was only 10 years from Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow debut , Queens A Night at the Opera‘ and Zeppelins Physical Graffitti, and yet it may as well have been produced in another era.

I’ll stick to my new copy of Mastodons latest Hushed and Grim, a modern classic. On the plus side 1985 produced The Cult’s Love and Rush were still knocking them out 

Alex Hayes: Well, it's not the worst album I've ever heard. I'm not generally someone that needs to handle your average 80s album from inside some kind of metaphorical hazmat suit. There's definitely music out there that I'd sooner avoid over this. All that said, Everybody's Crazy was far from a compelling listen. It's extremely generic and cliche-ridden, even by the standards of the time.

There are way better albums of this type out there. In my cynical mind's eye, I can see Michael Bolton buying copies of Foreigner's 4 and, say, Frontiers by Journey from a record shop, taking them home, dissecting them and then attempting to replicate them as accurately as possible. That obviously didn't literally happen, but Bolton falls short in nearly every respect. Every track here wishes it was either Separate Ways or Waiting For A Girl Like You but never gets anywhere close.

To be fair to Bolton, he was more than just 'the voice' here. He was a lot more involved in the songwriting and arranging departments than I'd expected, even contributing some guitar. There's some quality lead guitar work from Bruce Kulick to be found here also. It's far from all bad.

Everybody's Crazy really helps to rationalise Bolton's subsequent shift towards the awful 'adult contemporary' music that later made him a star. As a collection of songs, it's just not distinguished enough to stand out from the crowd. It doesn't matter whether that crowd were dancing away in the Tech Noir nightclub in the mid 80s (name the film), or listening to it today. Either way, Everybody's Crazy still comes across as second rate. Not bad, but a long way from essential.

Kathy Kerr Gonzalez: After seeing everyone's reaction to the choice of this album, I had to listen to it. And I don't mind his 90s hits, so I don't come in with any negative bias. Song by song, it is technically sound, proficiently performed, and the songs aren't offensive. And I don't mind that it sounds 80s. But there isn't really anything interesting or unique to it. If I came across this album for $1 at the used CD store I would try to find something else that would add to the culture of my collection for $1. This one would contribute nothing. Mostly harmless. 5/10.

Greg Schwepe: OK, raise your right hand if you winced or went “Whaaaaaa?...” when you saw this week’s album review selection. My right hand is raised, by the way. Maybe not the proverbial cup of tea selection for most of us here at the Classic Rock Album Of The Week Club, but what the heck, I gave it a spin. Or rather “gave it a click” in the digital music days.

I actually remember hearing some Michael Bolton song on an FM rock station back around this time. And saw some video on MTV. Then I never heard anything from him again until it was a few years later as he had moved to the lite rock thing on VH1. “Hey, that guy had a rock song out a few years ago!” I think this was back when the record company said “This guy can sing, but we need a Plan B if the rock thing doesn’t take off.” And my guess was Plan B involved a genre shift that allowed him to use his emotive voice to sell records; to a mostly female audience.

Now, right off the bat, here’s a guy with a powerful voice. Save Our Love kicks off and you’re in standard 80s rock mode; the keyboards, drum sound, and plenty of whammy bar divebombs probably played on a pointy headstock Super Strat.

Next up is the title track, Everybody’s Crazy with plenty of power chords and palm muted chugging on the guitar. Hmmm. So Michael Bolton could rock at one time.

Can’t Turn It Off veers a little too much to the dated 80s keyboard sound. But the pinch harmonic squeals from the guitarist save this from being too cliched. Maybe.

Call My Name is where he starts to lose me a little. This is a standard power ballad and as I hear it, I can only envision every video cliché from MTV back then.

Overall, for me, this is not a totally unlistenable album. In places there’s enough guitar on there to keep me happy. It’s slick 80s rock, and that’s not always a bad word. And to tell the truth, there were a lot of bands I liked back then (with the same hairstyle and wardrobe!) that had songs very similar to some of the ones on here. I mean, I can hear a lot of Survivor, Honeymoon Suite, and maybe a little Bryan Adams or .38 Special. Will be interesting to see what others think about this one!

Andrew Bramah: His first two solo albums are top drawer power pop. Huge production. The best musicians around. Some great songs albeit possibly a couple too many ballads. In the coming years numerous bands with less talent and horrendous corporate songs would clean up.

John Edgar: I worked for a music retailer when this, and his previous self titled album, were released. We sold a lot of copies, especially of the self-titled album. To me, it had the same appeal as Foreigner albums that were being released around the same time. Full on corporate rock.

Darren Burris: OMG. Against my better judgment I went ahead and listened to it. So dated. Bad synth sounds and drum machines. Lyrics are so sappy and predictable. I mean he does have a great voice and that’s the only thing that saves this from being a one or two. So I’ll give it a generous 3.

Rich Townend: Great album. His only good one though, from a rock point of view.

David Michael Knowles: I had never heard it before so gave it a listen. I can see why he switched away from knocking out stuff like this. He would have disappeared under the competition. Average at best.

Gary Claydon: Yep, it's strange to think now that Michael Bolton was once highly rated by the 'serious' rock press such as Kerrang! and Sounds. He was up against some stiff AOR competition in the likes of Bon Jovi, Aldo Nova, Billy Squier et al. And, to be honest, he fared pretty well in comparison - if you like that kinda thing. The man has a good set of pipes but Everybody's Crazy is typical, over-produced 80s AOR. Which is not a good thing. In fact, it's a very bad thing. This is a very bad album. And you are very bad people for making me listen to it. Very bad.

Philip Qvist: Okay - I'm not a fan of Michael Bolton; in my opinion he is on par with Celine Dion, a songs by number singer, but making a fortune out of it. In short, not much credibility, but laughing all the way to the bank.

Good luck to him - and his decision to go the schmooz route was probably a savvy one, as his AOR career probably would have hit dead end before the 90s had even started.

So much for the artist, what about the album? Well it is a bit of a pleasant surprise, the opening/title track Everyone's Crazy Now really does rock - and wouldn't look out of place on any 80s AOR record.

As for the rest? Well we have the obligatory ballads and some rockers that are quickly heard and just as quickly forgotten - not bad, quite harmless in nature but nothing memorable. A production that definitely screams 80s.

Maybe changing musical direction was a stroke of genius after all.

I suspect that when the votes are counted this album will probably be near the bottom of the rankings. Some critics gave it 1 star out of 5; I don't think it is that bad, but it isn't a classic either. A generous 5.5 from me.

Ken Driver: Not an obvious choice but need to put first reactions to one side. The song Everybody’s Crazy wouldn’t be out of place on a Kiss album. Others would fit well on an album by Heart or other soft rock band of the mid 80s. It’s a good album for its time, even if it is Michael Bolton - he sings this type of music well. I can imagine that quite a few people will see the name and will give an opinion without even bothering to listen to it.

Adam Ranger: Well in the spirit of not judging by later output I gave it a listen.

First reaction: Dated! Some albums stand the test of time, but here the synth and electro-sounding drums keep it, for me at least, rooted in the early 80s.

But that aside, is it any good? Well for me no. It's undeniable that Bolton has a great voice, but the songs here are uninspired and forgetful. If you like that sort of AOR,  Call My Name is the best track and most memorable for me. But for the main part, it sounds like the soundtrack to one of those "goofy" teen movies that seem to come out every week at that time.

Sorry,I tried, but not an album I will be listening to again.

David Cox: Incredible album. And he’s a thoroughly decent chap. Once sent me over a (Harrods) beer hamper to thank me for a decent PR job.

Erik Mooney: Not sure if this is "classic rock" worthy, very synth rock/ pop. But damn!, can this guy sing or what? It's a shame he's not really being use to his full potential here.

Keith Jenkin: I can remember before his middle-of-the-road years that this title was a serious recommendation in Kerrang! and Sounds, nobody seemed to have a problem with that at the time.

Pete Mineau: I gave it a listen. To me, it sounds like a bad soundtrack to a 1980's teen sexploitation comedy film; very dated! I'd rate it a 4 out 10 for it's kitsch-factor, and that's being very generous on my part.

John Davidson: It's not often I don't even finish a CRATOW suggestion but I'm breaking the personal rule for this one.

It starts out badly with as generic an AOR songs as I've ever heard, it rises to not utterly awful on tracks 2 and 3 and then descends into banal 80s pop rock balladry.

All that is forgettable and dismal about the 80s is on display here. It's superficial, glossy and soulless. If it was clothes it would have shoulderpads too large for Dynasty and if it was a movie it would feature Molly Ringwall, Emilio Estevez and Charlie Sheen as a bratty set of middle class 'kids' with parent issues and too much self-esteem. 2/10.

Roland Bearne: OK, I do love me 80s "AOR", the Jovi's the Novas, Giuffria, Foreigner, John Waite, John Parr et al. At the time, to me it wasn't corporate generic pap, it was part of a a whole smorgasbord of "my" music along with a raft of other genres. Bolton never featured. I'm guessing that his motivation was commercial success whatever it takes, so if unlike some bands of the time he's not living and dying by this, perhaps that comes through, and joining post-Into The Fire Bryan Adams on the (we used to call it Housewife's Choice!) mainstream pop shelves is really what he wanted.

Good for him, but this is not, to me a classic album, it's a corporate budget stab at a good zeitgeist cool rock album. The players all do sterling jobs, especially Bob Kulick, great tones. I'm actually fine with the music in a warped I-miss-those-days-when-was-constantly-heartbroken-and-a-bit-lost sort of way! Heres the "shocker". I hate his voice! In the lower natural registers it just jars and in the upper registers sounds over-sung and a bit forced in a way which would make Ronnie James Dio say "hold my pint son!" It's alright. Not a classic.

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Final Score: 4.13 (72 votes cast, with a total score of 298)

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