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PopEntertainment.com > Reviews > Record Reviews > Randy Jackson's Music Club

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Randy Jackson's Music Club CD

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Randy Jackson's Music Club Volume One (Concord) 

Before becoming the "Dawg" - one of the judges doling out sometimes accurate, sometimes clichéd judgments on singing hopefuls on the world's most popular reality show American Idol -  Randy Johnson was actually a musician and producer.

After almost seven years of saying stuff like, "It was a little pitchy to me man," "Dat was da bomb!" and "I don't know, it was just a'ight to me, dawg," Jackson must have been ready to get his musical career back on track.  His high-profile side gig also opened the door for Jackson to experiment a bit with styles and some big-named (and not-so-big-named) friends and colleagues.

Therefore we come to Randy Jackson's Music Club - Volume One, a song set which has lots of different voices (most of the songs feature two or more guest performers), several different styles and the jocular master of ceremonies as a vague connecting thread.

In fact, as often happens when a producer makes an album, Randy Jackson's Music Club - Volume One doesn't so much hold together as a cohesive artistic statement so much as it feels like a mix tape.  Has some great moments, has some not so great ones, has a couple of gawdawful ones.

The buzz track, so to speak, is the return - after over a decade of not recording - of Jackson's fellow AI judge Paula Abdul with "Dance Like There's No Tomorrow."  For better or worse, "Dance" could have been on one of her late-80s-early-90s albums - it has a catchy if somewhat sterile beat, not exactly world-beating vocals but it'll get your booty on the floor. 

The next song is much more impressive though, Joss Stone catching a soulful vibe she only periodically hits on her own albums with "Just Walk On By."  No, sadly, Joss isn't covering Dionne Warwick, though she does paraphrase a couple of lines in the Bacharach/David classic.  Still, even if a straight remake would be have been even better, the song smolders. 

The sweet quiet storm piano ballad "Who's Gonna Love You Now?" with Kelli Love smolders and and a retro disco-twirler called "Real Love" by former AI runners-up Katharine McPhee and Elliot Yamin is great fun. "What Am I So Afraid Of?" has the germ of a great rock-soul idea with a wonderful old-school diva duet between Trisha Covington and Keke Wyatt supplemented by a buzzsaw guitar line. 

A little less impressive is "Like A," a rather generic rap throw-down by Chunk Squad and Ghostface Killah which eventually gets a little overwhelmed by just having too much going on.

By the time we hit the gospel closer "I Understand" with a whole slew of guests - including lots of fave spiritual singers and a pleasantly restrained vocal by superstar Mariah Carey - the whole "it takes a village to make an album" approach starts to get a little tasking.

On the evidence of this disk, the dawg probably isn't going to be able to give up the day job anytime soon, but Volume One has the excitement and unpredictability of a good episode of AI.  (3/08)

Jay S. Jacobs

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Copyright © 2008 PopEntertainment.com.  All rights reserved.  Posted: March 24, 2008.