Andrew Ridgeley “Son Of Albert” (1990)
Sadly, December 25th of 2016 truly was the “Last Christmas” for George Michael. One of many pop icons who passed away that year, Michael was found dead in his Oxfordshire home on Christmas Day at the age of 53. As of this writing, the cause of his death has still not been officially determined. Michael was one of Britain’s biggest music stars, achieving tremendous success as a solo performer and as one-half of Wham!, an '80's pop duo he formed with his former schoolmate Andrew Ridgeley.
And what ever happened to Andrew Ridgeley? After the breakup of Wham! in 1986, Ridgeley recorded only one solo album, titled Son Of Albert, in 1990. The album was a flop, and Ridgeley left the music business shortly after. There were rumors about a possible Wham! reunion during the years just before Michael's passing, but it never happened.
The Son Of Albert album suggests that Ridgeley would rather have been part of Def Leppard or Poison. Its sound is very un-Wham!-like, having more in common with the type of ‘80’s pop-metal that was still popular that year. By turns, Ridgeley’s vocals resembled those of Joe Elliot and Bret Michaels, and the album’s guitar sound was big and loud. Despite the huge successes that Ridgeley's former partner-in-pop had achieved at the time, there was no clear-cut audience to market this album to: its hard-rock sound was not likely to appeal to fans of Wham! or of George Michael, and fans of this type of hard rock probably had no interest due to Ridgeley’s past association.
If Ridgeley had hoped to live down his pretty-boy pop star image and convince the world that he was actually a macho hard-rocker at heart, then he had his work cut out for him, and on Son Of Albert, he didn’t cut it by a long shot. For a guy who wrote and sang head-bangin’ songs about sexy women and fast cars, Ridgeley sounds rather wimpy here, struggling with a weak singing voice that is usually drowned out by loud instrumentation and slick production. The opening track “Red Dress” features George Michael as a guest vocalist, but his presence adds nothing to a song that sounds mainly like a Def Leppard reject. And that sets the formula for most of the album’s other tracks. On “Flame”, Ridgeley attempts a sexy glam-rock vocal, and it might have worked if he wasn’t smothered in so much noisy instrumentation. “Kiss Me” is the worst of the bunch, resembling something lifted out of Poison’s dumpster. Ridgeley fares a bit better with “Mexico”, a Van Halen-like cruncher with an unexpected Latin-dance coda, and a confident Def Lep-flavored cover of the Everly Brothers’ “The Price Of Love”. The not-too-poppy ballad “Baby Jane” is a nice change of pace, but it wants better singing.
Is there anything at all here that might appeal to fans of Wham!? It’s not likely. The cover of Chic’s “Hangin’” is about as dance-poppy as the album gets, but even that track has a sludgy hard-rock sound that renders it unappealing. “Big Machine” is a slightly better pop-song-with-a-metal-edge. The six-minute “Hardcore” version of “Shake” is a dull and repetitive club mix of the album’s ineffectual second track, the sort of thing you’d expect to find on the B-side of a 12-inch single.
Son Of Albert is interesting as an example of a solo album by a recording artist who tried something boldly different from what made him famous, but as a musical work, it’s expendable.
Andrew Ridgeley “Son Of Albert” (Columbia CK 46188) 1990
1. Red Dress
3. The Price Of Love
7. Big Machine
8. Kiss Me
9. Baby Jane
10. Shake (Hardcore)