Second Spin: Michael Bolton, "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay"

Categories: Second Spin

Artist: Michael Bolton

Album: (Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay

From: Vintage Vinyl

Year: 1988

Label: CBS Records

What it sounds like: Sacrilege: The classic Otis Redding song redone "When a Man Loves a Woman"-style.

Bolton Cover.jpg


Best Track: None

Worst Track: "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay (Lightnin' Bolton Mix)"  There are four mixes of this single, all of which are crimes against humanity. The "Lightnin' Bolton Mix" -- yes, it's actually called that -- is by far the worst.

It's the classic Otis song done at half the tempo, with Bolton's overblown vocals run through a string reverb to make him sound a little raspy, like Redding. A smooth jazz saxophone plays in the background throughout, taking a solo where the original song has the unforgettable whistling bit. The crescendo of the song is a clusterfuck of swelling strings and piano and a full gospel choir coming in for backup vocal support. It fades out with a wailing tenor sax solo and Bolton and his choir chanting "Nah nah nah nuh, nah nah nah nuh..."

This cover is an affront to all that is good and Holy in music. I honestly can't think of anything that comes close--it's like if Kenny G did a full-length interpretation of Miles Davis' Bitches Brew. It makes Pat Boone ripping off Little Richard seem cute. When Bolton sings, "Left my home in Georgia," I wanted to take off my headphones and stab out my eardrums with a pen. It's that bad.

Bolton Back.jpg

Who you can thank for the amazing cover art: No credit, but the guy at Vintage Vinyl astutely pointed out that for some reason Bolton sucks in his cheeks in all of his pictures. Also, his hair makes him look like a British judge.

The Facts: Before he could claim 53 million records sold, eight top ten albums, two number one singles, and a shit-ton of Grammy awards, the king of soft rock ballads was the lead singer of a heavy metal band called Blackjack, releasing a self-titled album in 1979.

His real name is Michael Bolotin.

This abortion of a cover song was one of his first successes in the much maligned "Adult contemporary/easy listening" genre, peaking at 11 on the Billboard Hot 100. It comes from his 1987 full-length album The Hunger.

Otis Redding wrote and recorded the original song shortly after his performance at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967. About his move from Dawson, Georgia, to a house boat in San Francisco, it was released in 1968 six weeks after his death in plane crash. Countless artists have covered the song, including Willie Nelson, Percy Sledge, Pearl Jam and Sammy Hagar.

Shorlty after Bolton covered Otis, he proceeded to desecrate the soul classic "Georgia, On My Mind." He has also done an entire album of Sinatra covers.

In 1994, a jury ruled that he had to pay $5.4 million for being guilty of copyright infringement for his 1991 hit, "Love Is A Wonderful Thing," due to the song's similarity to the Isley Brothers' 1964 song with the same title.

The no-talent ass-clown told Entertainment Weekly, that he's never seen Office Space but that has "signed so many Office Space DVDs."

Info from: Wikipedia, The Official Michael Bolton, and Song Facts.



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