October 07, 1985 12:00 PM

Michael McDonald

McDonald isn’t always very easy to appreciate. The Doobie Brothers’ most successful alumnus often seems to be straining so much to reach every note and strike every mood that listening to him can be anxiety provoking for those who haven’t learned to get past the first impression. Anyone who makes it that far at least gets the benefit of some of pop’s slickest, hardest driving arranging and performing. The style is sort of pessimist rock, featuring such downer titles as Bad Times, Lost in the Parade and Don’t Let Me Down; McDonald is not likely to be named the Power-of-Positive-Thinking Singer of the Year. The all-too-frequent shallowness of the lyrics is illustrated by these lines from (I Hang) on Your Every Word, which McDonald wrote with his wife Amy Holland: “Oh, can’t you see I hang on your every word/This ain’t no game I’m playing/I really love you/Don’t promise nothin’ that you can’t live up to.” The surprise is that McDonald and his co-producer, Ted Templeman, make all of this sound passably enjoyable. There’s an undeniable nervous energy to the album, and for those who’ve acquired a taste for McDonald’s singing style, there’s some musical satisfaction too. (Warner Bros.)

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