Randy Jackson's Music Club –
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
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.
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 buzz track, so to speak, is the
return - after over a decade of not recording - of Jackson's fellow
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.