This has received a few mixed reviews so we were surprised how good it was. While it’s not original, it hits a consistently high standard and it’s an upbeat, positive album. Younger listeners will appreciate the slick tunes and dance/soul that’s a cut above most music around, older folk will like the references to past hits: Michael Jackson, Elton John and John Miles are all sampled.
After a short (1m 22s) intro that samples Elton’s Philadelphia Freedom, the album kicks off proper with Est 1980s a sample-free tune that celebrates his musical influences: “I heard the Culture Club/And I fell in love/They were singing to me/And Billy Idol was rock n roll” and “Michael Jackson was king/hair metal was God…DMC looked just like me”. It’s got a big 80s style joyful chorus and Jacko style beats and guitar, and a horn-honk at the end.
Green samples the Taxi theme for Sign of the Times, smooth jazz composer Bob James being one of the most sampled composers ever; Robin Williams both laments the passing of much-loved but departed comics — John Belushi, Richard Pryor, Williams — and compares the singer’s life to theirs, in that he has to “laugh the pain away”.
Conversely, Working Class Heroes (Work) is a pun of going out to work and working the dance floor: “There ain’t no problem that music can’t solve,” comments CeeLo.
It tails off a bit towards the end, though as we thought his last album tailed off from the opening note, that’s a vast improvement.
It’s a solid, fun, album packed full of tunes. It reminded us of solid Michael Jackson: not Jacko at his best but certainly at his most middling.