Like Michael Bolton, Richard Marx is a Teflon pop star. Despite the poor-to-mixed reviews that have flecked his career, Marx’s last three albums have sold a defiant 15 million copies. Marx shouldn’t be fazed, then, to hear that his latest effort probably won’t improve his reputation among music critics. Like his other albums, Paid Vacation is packed with well-sung songs (Marx can belt them out) that are painfully short on substance.
With the exception of two standouts, “Nothing Left Behind Us” and “Silent Scream,” the album is laden with a mix of power rock and ballads that feature Marx’s Top 40 voice and his accomplished band, but little else in the way of memorable compositions. The 1989 hit “Satisfied” proved there’s a great songwriter in Marx itching to break out. Perhaps he should take a paid vacation and find him. (Capitol)