Review Summary: The Greatest Hits section bogs down what is otherwise the best release of Michaels' career. Which isn't saying much, but still.2 of 2 thought this review was well written
“Bret Michael’s album sucks”.
There you have your review, Bret Michaels haters. Now that you’ve gone away satisfied to rant to your online or real-life friends about what a failure Poison’s frontman is, we can go on reviewing what is possibly the best album of Michaels’ solo career. Granted, that’s not saying much, and granted again, those haters do have a few valid points (yes, Michaels is whoring his career out, yes he looks and acts pathetic, yes most of his songs are mediocre at best); but it is still refreshing to see the Poison lead singer put out an album that elicits more than a shrug.
Released in 2005, Freedom Of Sound
continues the trend of mixing entirely new songs with pseudo-hits from former albums to make up an entirely new concoction. This time, the new-to-old ratio is even higher than on previous outings, coming in at an exact fifty-fifty and setting the tone for the rest of Michaels’ career. And while the Greatest “Hits” part is dubious at best, the new songs actually have some merit to them, which is more than you can say for the majority of Bret’s previous albums.
The main factor which makes these songs successful in comparison to their ancestors is the fact that most of the problems those
songs had have been fixed. The songwriting is much stronger this time around, the lyrics are back up to par with what Michaels is capable of (particularly when they’re autobiographical, like on Rock’n My Country
or It’s All Good
), and a few subtle touches – like the understated Farfisa organ on the bridge of Driven
or the fiddle that enhances a couple of songs – help raise some of these tracks above mediocrity, even going as far as to deliver a couple of declared standouts.
Obviously, not everything is perfect – more than a few of these songs still rank in the “meh” category, and the “country version” of Every Rose Has Its Thorn
is a clear mistake – but at least this album gives us more tidbits to savor than to retch over. It’s a pity, then, that Michaels insists on ripping liberally from other artists, which explains why Open Road
, while a standout, is also basically a Bryan Adams and
a John Cougar Mellencamp track, or why Right Now, Right Here
brings horrid shades of radio-rock to Bret’s hard rock sound, basically making the song a Nickelback pastiche. Still, for what we’re used to from this artist, this selection is positively inspired, and thankfully features none of those pop-punk songs that infest the rest of Michaels’ discography. In fact, this could even have been the one good record of the singer’s career…if not for the "previous hits" section.
In fact, this typically haphazard collection of tracks contributes greatly to drag down what was, by all standards, a decent album. The selection is, at best, uninspired and, at worst, horrid, featuring dreadful songs like The One You Get
, which should have been consigned to obscurity in their respective albums. The inclusion of strong(er) tracks like Raine
and Future Ex-Wife
cannot make up for the mistakes this time around, with the overall effect of this second half being quite poor. Besides, did anybody really need to own duplicates of songs that were barely two years old, readily available, and not that good to begin with? Or the umpteenth version of the now-insufferable Something To Believe In
? Overall, this section would have been best left out of the record, as it only makes its overall rank go down from “decent” to “average”.
Still, if you really must have a Bret Michaels album in your collection, this one does present the more balanced ratio of good-to-bad tracks, and it does include a few of the stronger songs in Michaels’ back catalogue, along with a couple of decent new tracks. If you insist on owning something by the singer, then this album should be it; that doesn’t, however, make it any more than average, which, for Bret, is merely business as usual.
It’s All Good