Even if you don’t know the name Desmond Child, you know his songs. Over the past few years he’s cranked out such radio-ready hits as Cher’s ”We All Sleep Alone,” Bon Jovi’s ”Livin’ on a Prayer,” Michael Bolton’s ”How Can We Be Lovers,” and Aerosmith’s ”Dude (Looks Like a Lady)” — all of them light-metal schlock at its most shameless, overblown, and, ultimately, magnificent, especially when blaring from a car radio on a grossly hot summer day.
Like any behind-the-scenes drone, though, Child wants to be recognized on the street, so out comes his first solo album, Discipline. For all his training, he doesn’t seem to realize the difference between good and bad schlock. The sweeping melodies are here, but Child’s voice doesn’t have much personality, and the grating, cluttered production is an unintentional parody of the genre he helped mold. You haven’t laughed until you’ve heard ”According to the Gospel of Love,” a hideous arena-rocker that sounds like a leftover from Jesus Christ Superstar.
Still, Discipline may be worth preserving for future students of Power Ballad 101. Where else can you hear such monumentally trite phrases as ”I can’t live with you or without you,” ”It might feel like heaven but it might be hell,” and ”Through your eyes I can see the mirror of my soul”? Prepare the time capsule. D