Picks and Pans Review: If It Don't Kill You, It Just Makes You Stronger
updated 12/04/1989 AT 01:00 AM EST
•originally published 12/04/1989 AT 01:00 AM EST
Few voice teachers will be toting this album to class so their students can emulate Willis's semibellowing singing style. A lot of them probably will take it to parties, though, since it makes up in fun for what it lacks in musical fine points.
Willis insists on hiding behind a dumb pseudonym again—no "Bruno" this time, but between songs he talks about himself and the studio band as Jimmy and the Termites. Still, despite occasional similarities between him and the Blues Brothers, he never seems to be simultaneously parodying and exploiting R&B artists, as the Aykroyd-Belushi act did.
Willis sounds as if he is having an especially good time in a duet with Johnny Winter on an original (Willis-Robben Ford-Robert Kraft) tune, "Here Comes Trouble Again," which includes raucous guitar solos by Winter and David Grissom. Singer-actress Merry Clayton helps out too in her duet with Willis on a brassy version of the old hit "Soul Shake." Bruce's version of "Save the Last Dance for Me" probably doesn't rank up there with the classic renditions—Emmylou Harris, Harry Nilsson, the Drifters—but he acts into the lyrics a little, enhancing the implicit story of the song.
Willis even plays surly, if not mean, harmonica on "Barnyard Boogie" and an instrumental "Tenth Avenue Tango."
It's too late to suggest to Willis that he not give up his night job, so let's encourage him. Anybody who surrounds himself with this much likable music should be able to take a break from his acting career to try a different job, even if he is tired of moonlighting. (Motown)