There are plenty of albums out there which have a bad reputation; disappointing follow-ups, embarrassing changes of direction, egomaniacal follies. But often these albums contain a certain charm, even if just as curios. Work your way through Neil Young’s Trans, The Shaggs’ Philosophy Of The World or Kevin Rowland’s My Beauty and still come away thinking “actually, there were some quite good ideas lurking in there somewhere”. Besides which, they’re fun. Andrew Ridgeley’s debut solo effort is not that sort of bad album. Son Of Albert is just flaming useless and bloody pathetic unmitigated guff at every level.
I like Wham! I like their early Chic-influenced singles with dodgy lyrics, their shuttlecock-down-the-shorts years and I think The Final is one of the best British albums of the 1980s. Likewise I recognise that while George Michael can be a sullen, preachy old sod when the mood takes him, his solo career has yielded some incredibly good music – the recently remastered Faith album being a good case in point. So it would be easy to pick on Andrew Ridgeley, to paint him as the expendable one in Wham!. He always seemed more interested in crashing racing cars than making music. He admitted his guitar hadn’t been plugged in at Wham!’s farewell concert at Wembley in ’86, and that he hadn’t actually performed on lots of Wham!’s super hit singles. Even before Son Of Albert appeared then, he had a reputation for being a nice bloke and a good sport and all that but also for being you know, a bit of a plonker.
Listening to Son Of Albert – even 20 years after its initial release – is no picnic. It is full of cringeworthy, sexist, strained attempts at what can only be called “raunch”. Take the single ‘Red Dress’ for example. In this abomination our Andy is singing about a “sextress” who has “some first class long legs” (he pronounces it “lawng legs” – of course!) and who is “hotter than a rocket on the 4th of July”. He’s in a right old bother about her, so in the video he performs with his shirt off (of course!) while a “leggy lovely” (of course!) cavorts about. Cliché after cliché after cliché is trotted out; this is focus-group pop at its worst. It is staggering to think that someone in a boardroom at Columbia Records presumably heard ‘Red Dress’ and, removing their specs solemnly, declared “That’s the single!” That’s just the first track, and it doesn’t get any better. There is a song called ‘Shake’ which sounds a bit like his ex-bandmate’s ‘Faith’ single except whereas ‘Faith’ is a globally renowned pop classic which repositioned George Michael as a heavyweight performer in the US, ‘Shake’ is just…rubbish. Most of the album is this dreadful, please-nobody, mean rockin’ tosh with titles like ‘Hangin’, ‘The Price Of Love’ or – cripes! – ‘Shake (Hardcore)’. George pops up on backing vocals once or twice but it doesn’t make the record any more palatable. Do you want to hear the entire album for yourself? It’s all on YouTube. But it won’t make you happy.
Don’t download: “Red Dress. – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n872gj688DM
If you hate this, don’t listen to: Craig McLachlan, Stefan Dennis, Chesney Hawkes
See more in this series: 100 Albums to Avoid.