Today’s Pop Rescue from a fate uncertain, is 1990’s Bad Girl – the sixth album by American singer-songwriter, La Toya Jackson. Will this album give you Sexual Feelings or is it just Bad, Girl? Read on…
This 12 track CD opens with an announcement that you’re entering a ‘New. Age. System‘ which is swiftly followed by some wonderful Italia House piano chords over a thudding bass drum. Meanwhile, and much like some of La Toya and Janet Jackson’s earlier work, the song begins with what sounds like orgasmic delight. Yes, it’s lead song Sexual Feeling and there’s no doubt what La Toya is singing here ‘Won’t you come inside my walls‘, ‘now push it‘, and ‘take off my brassiere‘ she sings in a breathy tone. It’s more of an awkward than tuneful listen, and one that you’d probably use to prank a shop’s or neighbour’s unprotected wireless speaker with. The track was released as one of the singles, but it failed to touch, caress, or arouse the UK charts.
Then it’s on to a heartfelt plodding ballad – You & Me. This was also a single, and is a complete contrast to the previous song. Here, La Toya sings her loved up mid-tempo song softly. It comes complete with embarrassed giggle half way through as La Toya sings about her true love intentions. She gets a really nice key change in the middle, which seems to give the song a burst of energy vocally and musically and it picks up nicely in the second half.
That’s followed by He’s My Brother, and it bursts in wonderfully dramatic. This is a clear indication of her (at that time) love for her brother Michael Jackson complete with ‘you may say he’s eccentric‘, ‘he’s still the man in the mirror‘, and ‘he gives me a fortune-a-plenty‘ lyrics. It’s a fun little song, that even riffs off Michael’s hit Bad musically and with little MJ ‘oh’ voices. It’s a beltingly fun romp, and definitely worth a listen. It could have been a brilliant single… but sadly stayed here on the album.
Restless Heart follows that, the first of four songs here written by German producers Irmgard Klarmann and Felix Weber, and without any writing credits to La Toya. Here, it certainly hangs together well, but doesn’t have that same La Toya feeling that was present in the previous three songs she co-wrote. Whilst it’s a nice fully-fledged track, this really could have been a song for Big Fun or Bananarama instead.
It’s on to Playboy (Be Me), which has a delightful synth riff and ‘de doo doo do doo do’ vocal sample, amongst beats and a load of synth stabs. ‘I wanna be your toy’ La Toya giggles at the start, but the song bounces along wonderfully after this, with her vocals making light work of the lyrics. It sounds like a thoroughly 1980s song, and works really well. It’s a catchy track, but sadly didn’t see release as a single.
Up next is You Can Count On Me, which continues the up-beat sound with the fresh beats and repeated synth riffs. There is a little echo of the MJ Smooth Criminal bassline here, but I wonder whether it is purely accidental. Here, La Toya gets some weaker and perhaps more fraught vocals, which are aided in this sound by some repeated vocal harmonies that become quite catchy as the song progresses. It sounds a bit like a Betty Boo b-side.
Then it’s time for Somewhere, which gives us our second ballad. Sadly, La Toya’s soft and gentle vocals seem oblivious of the pitch of the high notes required in the verse. The track feels like a big 1970’s love song, but unfortunately it’s just the vocals that seem a little out in places.
That leads on to the titular track and lead single Bad Girl. We’re back to the sexy song zone, and this one is off to a really nice little bouncy pop song start. It’s a nice enough little pop song, but there are stronger ones in this tracklist. However, the track didn’t bother the UK charts.
Be My Lover follows after that, and returns us to slower song territory. This one has a nice although slightly weird bass to it, accompanied with a simple beat and gentle guitar. Here, La Toya gets to show off her soft gentle vocals, and it works a treat. She’s expertly flanked by backing vocalists who put in some great harmonies alongside her as occasional saxophone notes drop in too. It’s a calming and gentle love song.
Then it’s on to He’s So Good To Me which lifts the tempo a bit, returning us to another nice little pop song from Klarmann and Weber. The track bounces along nicely, and La Toya delivers the lyrics with ease, but again there’s few signals that it’s really her, apart from a mid section with samples and vocal signatures.
(Do The) Salsa is next, which reminds us all to get the catering ready. Maybe. Actually, we have La Toya dropping in some Spanish before breaking into some nice pop song over some percussion. By the time of the chorus, it’s got a great pace and catchy lyrics. It’s not Gloria Estefan level, but it is a nice up-beat song which allows La Toya to sound like she’s having fun.
The album closes with guitar, beats, and yes, there’s a piano tucked in there too for song Piano Man. This is a song about a piano man, with La Toya heaping on the praise of a pianist who can play a handful of songs. Oddly though, most prominent of the instruments you can hear is the guitarist, brass (synth?) and drum machines, until the piano player gets a solo in the middle of the song.
Over all, this album is a bit of an odd collection of songs, but overly a good fun listen.
Most of the songs here are okay to nice, but there are some really great tracks nestled in amongst them – chiefly He’s My Brother for its amazing Michael tribute, and Playboy (Be Me) which has a nice catchy sound to it. Other editions of this album corrects the song title to Playboy (Be My). You Can Count On me and (Do The) Salsa are also good solid songs too. Of course, there’s some not great stuff too, but the low point is definitely led by Somewhere, which just sounds jarring and was a bad choice to give to La Toya to sing as it doesn’t suit her range.
There is some oddness about this album in that it feels a bit disjointed at times. That may be due perhaps in part to disagreements between La Toya’s management and her label, which eventually saw the album extended and licensed to several labels. This edition, from ‘Tring International PLC’ released it as ‘Bad Girl’ in 1990, but there are many editions of the album with different titles, artwork, and track variances, which no doubt hasn’t helped potential fans think they’re buying a legit edition. This particular CD feels very cheaply made, with only a folded page of sleeve artwork, and doesn’t carry a date on the artwork.
Despite this confusion, the album is a nice enough collection of songs, just prepare yourself to go from filth, to tedium, to banger, to mediocre and back again a couple of times.
- POP RESCUE 2023 ALBUM RATING: 3 / 5
- 1990 UK ALBUM CHART PEAK: Didn’t chart in the UK.
- POP RESCUE COST: £3.48 from an eBay seller.