Bill Medley: Bill Medley 100% / Soft and Soulful

Bill Medley
Bill Medley 100% / Soft and Soulful
Real Gone

To Mr. Medley’s credit, I doubt there’s a whole lot that’s more daunting than pursuing a career as a solo singer on the heels of having been one half of an extremely successful vocal duo (anybody who argues that Simon & Garfunkel was always, at its essence, a Paul Simon solo vehicle and that Art Garfunkel’s contributions as a singer were diminutive, for example, simply hasn’t compared solo Simon to Simon with Garfunkel enough to realize that, however pretty “Duncan” might be, it’s still just ketchup, and the mustard is glaringly absent).

Similar to Art Garfunkel, Bill Medley of the Righteous Brothers, while in no way being the designated “lead” singer of the group and actually occupying the background more often than his counterpart Bobby Hatfield, sang lead on the band’s first and most memorable hit “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling” therefore becoming the “voice” associated with the band (Phil Spector, who produced the single, infamously relegated Hatfield to the role of “secondary singer,” and this internally contentious arrangement decision, in addition of course to dollops of Spector sortilege, are what make it arguably the most dynamic pop hit of its time).

Bill Medley 100% / Soft and Soulful is a remastered reissue “medley” of two semi-obscure solo albums the singer released subsequent to his parting of ways with Hatfield (the first time). And while both of these albums purportedly produced a couple of small hits (or “punts,” compared to prior successes) at the time of their releases, they’re only classics in the sense that they’re prototypical examples of an esteemed and technically excellent singer singing songs banal beyond redemption (cf. Ben by Michael Jackson). Track one off Bill Medley 100%, “Brown Eyed Woman” embodies all of the calculation and cleanliness of a Vegas revue minus any of the bombastic visual excitement (naturally), and this “mood” doesn’t really ever let up. “The Impossible Dream (The Quest)” is the aural equivalent of being dragged through the mud and it’s cessation is a glorious reward. The unimaginative lyrics usually divert attention from Medley’s vocals and not the other way around, finally reaching their watery culmination in the first record’s outstanding lowlight “Peace Brother Peace”. The overblown horn and string arrangements on both records are totally confined to their time (the early 1970s), and make every song on this two-album set indistinguishable from the next, consequently rendering the entire listening experience insufferable.

Bill Medley 100 % / Soul and Soulful DOES have value, though: it’s an indication that this “deluxe reissue” business has gotten a little bit out of hand. I’m no cynic, but I can’t think of anybody who has any interest in Bill Medley’s solo career, no less a rerelease of his two allegedly “classic” endeavors complete with a booklet of additional liner notes.

RATING 1 / 10