Gregg Alexander - 1989 Michigan Rain

EricEric USA
edited March 14 in year-1989

image
ARTIST: Gregg Alexander
ALBUM: Michigan Rain
LABEL: A&M
SERIAL: SP-5255
YEAR: 1989

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: image
LINEUP: Gregg Alexander - vocals, electric & acoustic guitars * Rick Nowels - electric & acoustic guitars, keyboards, acoustic piano, background vocals * Charles Judge - keyboards, acoustic piano * Rudy Richman, Kenny Aronoff - drums * John Pierce - bass * Michael Landau, Ben Schultz - guitars * N'Dea Davenport, Sandy Stewart, Maria Vidal, Laura Harding, David Munday, Robbi Deidman - backing vocals

TRACK LISTING: 01 In The Neighborhood * 02 Michigan Rain * 03 Loving You Set Me Free * 04 Cruel With Me * 05 Save Me From Myself * 06 Every Now And Then * 07 Don't Cry Mrs. Davis * 08 Sinner Time Ten * 09 Five And Dimes And Petty Crimes * 10 The World We Love So Much

Background

When I first heard the 1998 smash single 'You Get What You Give' by New Radicals I was positive radio had ushered in the second coming of Todd Rundgren.

A major disappointment when I found out it wasn't Todd but it was and still is one of most exhilarating songs to come out of the post-Britpop 90s and I was hooked.

New Radicals and the album 'Maybe You've Been Brainwashed Too' was the project of singer-songwriter Gregg Alexander who created a set filled with fun catchy pop-rock as a response to a decade of grungy cynicism and corporate greed.

While critics hated the disc 'You Get What You Give' co-written by long-time collaborator Rick Nowels put Alexander on the musical map and in 2002 the duo hit pay dirt once again with Santana and the top ten hit and Grammy-winning 'The Game Of Love' which featured guest vocalist Michelle Branch.

Wonderful stuff, but behind every success is a lot of hard work and Alexander's story reaches back to 1986 as a sixteen-year-old Midwest songwriter pushing his music to indifferent labels. Thanks to Rick Nowels who you might remember from his co-write on Belinda Carlisle's mega-seller 'Heaven on Earth', Gregg was signed to A&M for the first of two solo albums - 1989's 'Michigan Rain'.

The Songs

Very much an atypical late 80's pop-rock record, 'Michigan Rain' wasn't a success commercially and clearly Alexander was searching for his own voice but there are glimmers of a talent in the making.

Richard Marx meets Bon Jovi minus the hard rock bombast of the latter are good comparisons and songs like 'In The Neighborhood' and the over the edge power balladry of 'Loving You Sets Me Free' are built to please for the melodically inclined.

Lyrically there's a youthful angst in Alexander's mind-set and a precursor to what we would hear in New Radicals although at times it's hard to know just what he was thinking with tunes like the glamish 'Cruel With Me' and the truly awful demo-sounding 'Five And Dimes And Petty Crimes' which should have been left in the mixing board.

As such 'Michigan Rain' is a mixed bag but ultimately a compelling listen from AOR's darkening days but those looking for another 'You Get What You Give' will be sorely disappointed.

In Summary

Head-scratching follow-up 'Intoxifornication' released in 1992 included several re-released songs from the debut and didn't do Alexander any favors. Other than a handful of song writing credits for other artists including the horrific Boyzone, Gregg hasn't been heard from much in recent years preferring to stay in the shadows much like his debut's ghostly sleeve photo.


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Comments

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    edited July 2020
    Nice write-up and very enlightening! I bought this lp in a $1 used bin about three years ago, not really knowing much about what it was. Anything major label that looks possibly AOR for a buck will get snagged by me.

    Had no idea this was the New Radicals guy. Totally agree that single sounded like a great new Todd track when I first heard it....

    That Santana song with Michele Branch was no slouch either. This guy puts interesting chord progressions under good melody lines. Talented!
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