AVERAGE WHITE BAND: AFTERSHOCK (1989)
1) The Spirit Of Love; 2) Sticky Situation; 3) Aftershock; 4) Love At First Sight; 5) I'll Get Over You; 6) Later We'll Be Greater; 7) Let's Go All The Way; 8) We're In Too Deep; 9) Stocky Sachoo-A-Shun.
Here is one more for the rapidly increasing collection of proofs that «generic mainstream muzak» in the 1970s was nine heads and eighteen tails over the same thing in the 1980s. After doing the sensible thing and packing it in after Cupid's In Fashion, the AWB, mercifully, spent most of the decade busy with their solo projects and recreation, but then the devil made them do it and reconvene just one year before it expired (although it's not as if the album would have sounded much different had they put it off until, say, 1993: this kind of music had pretty much solidified in the late 1980s and never truly budged since).
The reconvened line-up is flawed: Hamish Stuart was busy doing the right thing (playing guitar on Paul McCartney's Flowers In The Dirt), and so was Steve Ferrone, here replaced by Eliot Lewis, credited as much for «programming» as he is for «percussion». Additionally, Alex Ligertwood, a one-time lead vocalist for Santana, is contributing some lead and background vocals. With these shifts, the remaining band members (Gorrie, Ball, and McIntyre) set out to reconquer the world... through the offer of an achingly wretched collection of «songs» that, for the most part, seem like a talentless imitation of Phil Collins' No Jacket Required (an album that, by itself, took no large amount of God-shared inspiration to create).
Seriously, a reunion has got to at least try to have a purpose; the only «shock» of Aftershock is to discover that the record does not attempt to do anything. All of its seven dance «grooves» and two so-called «ballads» are as hollow, unmemorable, and sonically annoying as R&B ever gets (and boy, can this «new school» R&B ever get annoying!). There is not a single moment anywhere in sight — never mind a complete track — that would attract my attention. The rhythm section is programmed most of the time (some of the basslines are real enough, but fairly crude compared to what these guys used to fabricate); guitars are relegated to the background; and even the vocal hooks do nothing but drag, drag, drag.
To be completely honest, I would take one of those infamous pre-Jagged Little Pill Alanis Morrisette dance pop albums over this tripe — at least the girl had some goddamn energy to compensate for the awful arrangements and melodic weakness. But the Average White Band were unlucky in that, from the very beginning, they always played it «soft», and now, in an age when nobody within that genre gave a damn about the silly old obsolete notion called «musicianship», they found themselves still playing it «soft» and «limp», only this time to programmed beats, streamlined no-presence rhythm chords, and third-grader keyboard sounds. Had anybody in the band at least found the courage to stand up and say, "fellas, why don't we stop this awful, awful shit, when was the last time you listened to your own ʽPick Up The Piecesʼ?", they might have achieved something. As it is — better just forget about there ever having been a 1989 in the history of the So Below Average It's Not Even Funny Anymore White Band. Thumbs down.