GREGG ALEXANDER – Intoxifornication

It’s probably fair to say that if you heard Gregg Alexander or were aware of his work in the early 90s, you almost certainly discovered him by accident. This seems a pity as this, his second solo album, is a decent record. Not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but like Prince (who seems an obvious influence on bits of the album), sometimes it’s the flaws which make it more interesting.

Alongside a handful of tunes featured in different form on ‘Michigan Rain’ (Gregg’s incredibly rare debut), this sophomore album features some new material. Pop-rock drum loops mixed with rock guitars provided the basis for the smut-driven ‘Smokin’ In Bed’ and ‘Electric Girlfriend’, both of which very much set the tone for this album. The title track, as you’d expect, follows suit, but benefits from a punchy guitar riff and a verse with a call and response vocal (it’s amazing what you can do with a ‘hey hey’ if you’re gifted enough), but it’s the pre-chorus which is the real star. Gregg was always meant to be on the radio – and once you hear this, you get the feeling that he presented this track (and indeed the rest of this album) with nothing but arrogant self-belief.   ‘I Wanna Seduce You’ is slightly different, in that the slightly alternative leanings present all but vanish; this track is pure 80s chorus-driven goodness. It reminds me of a Def Leppard cast off except it’s better than that. ‘Save Me From Myself’ (one of the songs originally from ‘Michigan Rain’) provides a decent counterpoint to a lot of the more up-beat tunes and has a vocal delivered with anguish. Even though it’s never going to be a classic album, I’d say the only time the album really misses the mark is on the uncredited bonus track (listed on the Japanese pressing as ‘Wear Your Love Beside You’). I’m not sure what happened here, but Gregg’s voice sounds lethargic and the music sounds like it came from a tape which was slightly warped. I suppose it was an uncredited track for good reason.

After the release of the album Gregg co-wrote most of the songs on ‘Arrive All Over You’ the debut album by Danielle Brisebois (who’d provided backing vocals on ‘Intoxifornication’). As you may expect, her album continued where Gregg’s ended with a similar style of power pop, rock and tongue in cheek smut. Unsurprisingly, her album was greeted with similar indifference by the public at large. [At the time of writing, Danielle’s second album remains recorded but unreleased].

 I’d owned ‘Intoxifornication’ for a couple of years and was convinced that only a few people in the UK would ever hear Gregg Alexander and then at the tail-end of the 1990s, something unbelievable happened. Out of nowhere, a band named New Radicals appeared. Their single ‘You Get What You Give’ was a monster hit. The vocals felt very familiar, but no, it couldn’t be…could it? Gregg Alexander fronting a hit band? Danielle Brisebois appearing on the album too?! Their time had finally come…and then, after a fairly short time in the spotlight, Gregg and Danielle retreated once again, but those with a keen eye and ear can spot Gregg writing songs for Ronan Keating, Rod Stewart, Enrique Iglasias and Danielle writing with Natasha Bedingfield, among others.

Good luck with tracking down any of Gregg or Danielle’s albums mentioned here; they’re worth it.

April 2008