Review Summary: The Final (nail in the coffin)
The year is 1986; Wham! officially announces their breakup perched on top of the apex of their world-dominating popularity. This, of course, is instigated by George Michael who feels that Wham! has run its course, to the dismay of millions of rabid fans who would counter his argument. In truth, George is itching to prove his worth as a “sophisticated” solo artist and that means dropping ties to the bubble gum pop outfit he co-founded with school friend and professional partner, Andrew Ridgeley. In the case of Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou, or “Yog” as he was known to his close friends, he was about to change the face of pop music forever as George Michael; starting off with his incredibly successful, sex-fuelled pop debut LP Faith
in 1987, which would solidify his status as a legitimate self-sufficient force. Once he got the people’s attention, he would push the barriers further with the omnipotently classy benchmark album, and artistically sound statement, Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1
in 1990. The rest is history and George Michael has left a modest but incredibly revered and idiosyncratic body of work for fans to pour over vehemently to this day.
What most people don’t know is that after Wham!’s demise, Ridgeley – the second half of Wham! – would try his hand at a solo career, releasing Son of Albert
in the same year as Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1
to the acclaim of no one. Indeed, Son of Albert
was reviled so much it would become the death of Ridgeley’s professional music career. I’ve known of this album for a few years now, from researching and reading up on anything I could about George Michael thus leading me to Andrew’s infamous debut LP, but it’s taken me this long to actually sit down and discover what it’s all about. To Ridgeley’s credit, this is a vast departure from anything Wham! or George Michael attempted. It’s evident Ridgeley’s music palette differs from Michael’s in a number of ways, most notably because Son of Albert
resides in the ‘80s glam rock ethos than the sugar sweet one of Wham!. So, then, why does Son of Albert
have such a bad reputation, and more importantly, is the bad rap deserving? Even in 2021, the answer to the first half of the question is apparent from the start: it sounds and feels like a manufactured and soullessly derivative mainstream glam rock record. Once the smoke settles on the fact Ridgeley was in one of the biggest pop bands of the 80s and is making rock music on the foundations of his solo career, it’s clear to see its disingenuous and superficial intentions.
However, while I can sympathise with the reception Son of Albert
got upon its release, I don’t think it’s worthy enough to warrant ending someone’s professional career. Of course, I have a certain set of biases reserved for listening to this style of music as well, most notably in that I don’t enjoy this Poison-meets-Bon Jovi style. I’ve never gelled with glam rock/metal, and bands like Motley Crüe, Def Leppard and Ratt do absolutely nothing for me. That being said, I can imagine someone enjoying Son of Albert
if they do enjoy glam rock, because for all of its derivative box ticking, there’s a competency in its endeavours. It’s all there for fans to enjoy – guitar solos, big reverb-lathered choruses, the ‘80’s rock snare drum, plenty of sleazily executed vocal performances and a deluge of cliché subjects that hears Ridgeley frothing over the sexy ladies. No, the more I analyse Son of Albert
, the more flummoxed I get trying to understand Ridgeley’s headspace at the time of making the album. 1990 was not the time to be making a glam rock album – and a faceless, cookie-cutter one no less. The ‘90s saw paths being forged for grunge and alt rock to take the baton. Whether it was by sheer ignorance of the times or just on the fact Ridgeley wanted to make an album based off of bands he himself enjoyed, I can’t be absolutely sure. However, it’s easy to understand why Son of Albert
turned up dead on arrival.
Does Son of Albert
feel like a vacuous corporate money hoover? It certainly does. Yet, even with my handicap for this type of music, I can still see its appeal for those who love everything glam. Ridgeley himself lacks the vocal presence of George Michael, the music does very little to help that fact, but it’s hard to argue with its fan-pleasing aesthetics and that, maybe, its initial reception was a shade hyperbolic. The bottom line being; if you like this style, it may well click with you.