Discipline by Desmond Child; August 1, 1991
August, 1991 was marked by a visit from a wayward tropical tourist in New England. Hurricane Bob did a lot of damage, and some radio stations lost their transmitters. Our local station WNTX was lucky to have not lost its transmitter. By 1991, Album Oriented Rock, or AOR was losing its popularity. Today I review one of its last holdouts: Discipline by Desmond Child.
Desmond Child? Never heard of ‘em!
Sure, you have, he’s the brains behind Bon Jovi’s Living on a Prayer and You Give Love a Bad Name. That’s todays fact of the day ™
Discipline has, so far, been his only album to date.
The album opens with The Price of Lovin’ You. The song is standard AOR fare and has an eighties twinge to it. Remember, this is 1991, so there is still that 80’s sound. Richie Sambora joins Desmond in the title track. The second track is a bit of a snooze fest. Granted, I’m a fan of Sambora, but this isn’t his best. Far from his best. I Don’t Wanna be Your Friend is the third track on this album and it is a good track. I can still hear the 80’s production on it, not that that’s a bad thing. The next track is his signature hit; Love on a Rooftop. The song describes a relationship that’s under strain from “leading complicated lives” I remember this song being played on the radio, and I described it in a musing. The song piques my interest. You’re the Story of my Life is the next track and is your typical AOR fluff piece. Sounds like filler. Skip this track. There’s a synth arrangement here that grates on my nerves. Plus, the lyrics are cheesy; but hey, it’s AOR.
According to the Gospel of Love is a rocking track. The reason? Richie Sambora is playing guitar. This is the Richie I know! The background vocalists add a Gospel air to the song. I could listen to this on repeat for hours, even with Desmond’s vocals trying to catch up. This could’ve been a Bon Jovi track. This so far, has saved the album. Do Me Right is another track I could listen to on repeat for hours. The track begins slowly and could have been a radio staple. The background vocals here are just like on According… and they add this gospel-esque flair to the track. Perhaps Desmond’s a jack of all trades when it comes to music; it’s just producing albums isn’t one of those trades. Maria Vidal joins Desmond on the track Obsession. She’s the main vocalist here. The synths are kind of dark, but hey, you take the good when you can get it. This song too, could have been a single. The track has all the ingredients to be one.
The Gift of Life is another rocking number. The lyrics seem a little trite, but it’s a product of its time. Do I like this track? No, not really, but if it weren’t for the guitar I’d say skip it. At over seven minutes in length, it fills out the album. The final track here, A Ray of Hope begins with the piano. The song sounds like Michael W. Smith should sing it. The track has this Christian pop feeling and it isn’t that good. I’ve been told that Desmond Child is an excellent songwriter and most of the songs he has penned have stood the test of time. Unfortunately, this is NOT one of those songs.
So, is Discipline shit?
I was optimistic for this album, I really was. I like a few of the tracks here, but others I do not like. Rooftop…, I Don’t…, Do Me…, and According… are the tracks I enjoy. I will give credit where credit is due and say that Mr. Child is quite the accomplished songwriter. The fact that he wrote two of Bon Jovi’s largest hits says a lot about him. I think he preferred to be behind the scenes, rather than in front of the microphone in the studio. Some listeners have compared him to Michael Bolton. Of the two, Child is the better singer. I can’t form a greater opinion on his music because Discipline is his only album to date. I’m not going to come out and say that this is a shitty album, because it’s not. The songwriting here, while not impeccable, is decent enough to save this album from being a total waste of time. So, if AOR crossovers are your thing, then by all means seek this out. This album is not a five and it certainly is not a zero. I’d venture to say it’s in the middle somewhere.