Album review: MICHAEL J BOLTON – Earthrise

MICHAEL J BOLTON - Earthrise

Market Square [Release date 30.08.19] www.marketsquaremusic.com

Arriving to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Apollo moon landing, Michael J Bolton has fashioned his own tribute.  As he outlines in the liner notes “I wanted to portray the drama and gravitas of Apollo through composition and record production. Interpreted, elevated, and enhanced by creative musicians.”

To this end he enlisted the services of producer/arranger David Hentschel who has worked with Genesis, Elton John, Mike Oldfield and perhaps more relevantly jazz fusioners Yellowjackets.

What emerges, after several years of “stop-start” in the recording process, is a fusion soundscape, epitomised by the swinging ‘Trans Lunar Injection’ which pulses with all the funk of classic jazz fusion punctuated by Hentschel’s keyboards and a particularly fine sax solo from Marc Russo (ex-Yellowjackets).  The interjection of Apollo audio is the only reference to the theme.

‘Arrow Of Time’ is dedicated to NASA fan, the late Paul Buckmaster, whom Bolton approached originally to help with the orchestrations.  It has a lovely late night jazzy groove in a Ramsey Lewis-accessible sort of way with Neil Yates’ fluegel horn and Matthew Johns’ piano a highlight.  Ditto the title track.

‘The Eagle’ actually reminds me of the ‘Sun Goddess’ vibe by the aforementioned Lewis but it could equally be cut by seventies Earth, Wind & Fire or even George Duke.

Unlike many of this type of concept album, Earthrise can be enjoyed in its own right and apart from that one track is bereft of possibly intrusive and distracting audio artefacts.

Described in some despatches as “progressive rock”, this is misleading unless you read the oracle that is “Prog” magazine which – irritatingly – seems to embrace many artists that don’t fall into a strictly prog rock pigeon-hole.

Multi-instrumentalist, Plymouth-born, Bolton mainly contributes bass, and – before you ask -  no, he is not the eighties crooner!  ****

Review by David Randall

For similar spaced out excursions check out also Market Square’s Voyager-themed album:

Album review


David Randall plays a selection of new and classic rock in his weekly show first broadcast 14 June 2020 including reference to the Feature series “2020 Vision”.


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