A puppy no longer, Donny's closing assertion that 'This is not a puppy love' seems...
Morag Reavley 2003-02-18
Any album which describes itself with the phrase "classic love songs" is almost certainly doomed before the CD case is even opened. The omen turns out to be only too accurate in the case of Donny Osmond's latest release.
The album may be Somewhere in Time but its heart is firmly in the 1970s. "I Can't Go For That", "After The Love Has Gone" and "Would I Lie To You" are off-vintage disco tracks, all high-pitched vocals, homogenised backing groups and saxophone swirls.
A nod is made to the 1980s in a cover of Crowded House's "Don't Dream It's Over". This is a big ballad number, recorded with the engineer's finger firmly on the echo-effect button. As rendered by Donny's pleasant-but-bland voice, however, it is but a pale imitation of a pallid original.
Peculiar for an album of classic love songs is the inclusion of "Crazy Horses". An original Osmond Brothers' number, this is re-recorded as a heavy-soul track with scary feedback and funky drums designed to show that Donny can still rock.
The album concludes with "Puppy Love", first recorded when Donny was a callow 14-year-old, and the leaden weight to which his career will forever be shackled. Produced here in a stripped-down format with simple guitar accompaniment by none other than Phil Ramone, it nevertheless loses any charm it ever had as an expression of teenage frustration when sung by a man of 45.
With a television career now well-established, it seems perverse for Donny to return to the past with what can only be described as a vanity recording project. Perhaps it gives him the chance to record the songs he wishes hed been offered during his singing heyday.
A puppy no longer, Donny's closing assertion that "This is not a puppy love" seems only too sadly true. If only it were then there might be some excuse for this album.