Today’s POP RESCUE is the 1991 fifth album ‘David‘ by American actor and singer, David Hasselhoff, but is this album a hassle-free listen, or will you be looking for freedom? Let’s find out..
The 12 track CD album opens with lead single Do The Limbo Dance, which came out in the summer of 1991. This song opens with the waves crashing on a Jamaican beach before launching into the chorus with some pseudo-steel drums. Imagine this as the Macarena and Aserejé long before they were born, complete with party atmosphere, dance instructions. It’s bright, cheerful, and light, with David and his backing singers following a call and answer format. A great opener.
Second single Gipsy Girl follows this, opening with an almost Enigma Return To Innocence breathy synth with acoustic guitar (which David ‘plays’ in the music video around a campfire). This song is a sheer contrast to the previous track, with a slower tempo and lots of powerful ballad vocals.
Up next is Are You Still In Love With Me. Again, we’re in ballad territory. David gives a really heartfelt vocal performance to his reminiscent lyrics, set here against a gentle beat. It’s a ballad-by-numbers, but a nice gentle track.
Casablanca bursts in next, and we’re up to a mid-level pop tempo as the Hoff recalls Moroccan skies. This definitely feels like an album track, but it was actually the album’s fourth and final single in 1992.
Funky beats kick off I Feel Your Love In The Air which absolutely whiffs of 1990/1991 both musically and vocally, complete with uncredited female vocalist delivering some big vocals. This should have been a single instead of Casablanca as it would certainly have fitted in with UK chart pop of the time.
In Stereo follows this, and again we’re treated to some great early 90’s sounds – sample-laden tracks, randomly placed ‘Oh oh oh’. It’s quite an easy up-beat song, complete with guitar solo, but it is fairly light on substance.
Third single Hands Up For Rock ‘n’ Roll, which gives David the perfect backdrop to give us some of his trademark rock vocals. In fact, he even sings “When i wanna party and I wanna have some fun, Rock ‘n’ Roll will always be my number one”. None of you should be surprised by this. I can imagine that this must have been brilliant to hear played live. Stadium rock drums and growling guitars sit perfectly alongside David’s vocals, particularly towards the end where there’s the obigatory ‘get-the-audience-to-handclap-and-sing-a-simple-bit’ stadium section. Great stuff!
Following this is Feeling So High, and this is a big of a chugger – the mid-tempo beat, chugging guitar, interspersed with a few synth stabs. After the previous track, I think it’s more of a case of being left feeling so high, and this song is a gentle come-down.
We’re back into ballad territory with Close To Heaven, with this song about heartbreak. Despite David singing about how he’s going to ‘neutralise’ the Devil for stealing a heart away. Despite it’s sometimes corny lyrics, it stands quite nicely overall.
A pulsating synth and racing beat opens Room In Your Heart, which seems almost prophetic to follow the heartbreak of the previous song – ‘Is there a little room in your heart?’ David sings over a hard pop beat. There’s a few familiar 90’s tropes here, with sampled beats and vocals, and more random ‘Oh oh oh oh’ from male backing singers. A little remix of this could have been a nice fat hit for him.
Next up is Who’s Leaving Who, which sadly wasn’t a single for David, but was a song co-written by the German album producer Jack White (no, not that one), and had already been a hit for Anne Murray and more recently the S/A/W-produced Hazell Dean. This is the first time that I’ve heard this version, and a male version, and it proves that it works. I particularly like the chorus arrangement and vocals. Shame that this wasn’t a single as I suspect that it could have been his first UK hit.
Piano opens the closing track Taylor-Ann, which is a song for (at that point) his one year old daughter. It’s quite a nice little piano-led ballad about parenthood in the Hoff house as he watches his daughter grow and play, and how the ‘world is waiting for you’. A nice closing track.
Overall, the album is a strong example of early 90’s pop-rock. Some of the ballads come across a bit dated now, and slightly twee to listen to as a result. There’s no doubting the strength of David’s vocal performance here, and there are some wonderful highs, which are set amongst some musical less-highs (but not lows).
I think that with enough promotion off the back of his earlier career in music and Knightrider, and given that 1991 was the year of the Baywatch series comeback (with David at the helm having secured it’s reprise), then this album could have ridden the surf of all of that to land him a hit. Sadly, the album and all of the singles it spawned did not trouble the UK’s waters.
Pop Rescue rating
- POP RESCUE 2020 REVIEW RATING: 3 / 5
- 1991 UK CHART PEAK POSITION: Did not chart, but was #1 in Austria.
- POP RESCUE COST: £1.99 from a Discogs.com seller.