David Hasselhoff - Open Your Eyes

by Kevin Wierzbicki

There's no doubt that David Hasselhoff is a big star. But for most American fans, knowledge of The Hoff's career is limited to the roles he played on TV shows "Knight Rider" and "Baywatch." Those kitschy but fun shows, along with a handful of appearances in movies and on Broadway, have earned Hasselhoff a permanent place in American pop culture. Through it all fans have probably heard rumblings that Hasselhoff is also a singer who is big in Europe and a superstar in Germany. With the release of Open Your Eyes, fans now have a (not their first, but perhaps their best) chance to hear what all the hoopla is about.

Hasselhoff has really had some fun with Open Your Eyes, a set of covers that will be mostly familiar to fans and that feature an esoteric bunch of guest performers. From the super-sunny ("Sugar Sugar" with twangy guitar from guest Steve Cropper) to the sublime (a take on Gordon Lightfoot's "If You Could Read My Mind" with guest vocals from Ava Cherry) Hasselhoff works in a wide variety of styles, but mostly the album channels synth-rock hits and favorites, for the most part gleaned from the '80s. The album's title cut is a reworking of the Lords of the New Church rocker "Open Your Eyes" and Hasselhoff's voice is particularly suited to the song's dark tone; Iggy Pop cohort James Williamson plays guitar on the cut. Another hotshot guitarist joins David for "I Melt with You" as Billy Idol's longtime ax man Steve Stevens rips it up on the Modern English classic. And Mike Score of A Flock of Seagulls plays keyboards on Hoff's cover of Echo & the Bunnymen's "Lips Like Sugar."

Fitting that Hasselhoff would cover David Bowie's "Heroes" here, since the song is set in Berlin; some cuts are a bit more surprising though, like a take on Glen Campbell's "Rhinestone Cowboy" where southern rocker Charlie Daniels plays orchestrated violin. Perhaps the most fun song on the effort is also its most obscure, an interpretation of "Jump in My Car," originally done by Australia's Ted Mulrey Gang 45-years ago, and here with pop mastermind Todd Rundgren on guitar. Rounding out the set are "Here I Go Again" featuring Tracii Guns, "Mit 66 Jahren" with keyboards wizard Patrick Moraz, a take on Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline" remixed by Al Jourgensen of Ministry, and closing song "That's Life," most notably recorded by Frank Sinatra.

The album is titled Open Your Eyes but clearly Hasselhoff is giving potential fans a chance to open their ears here; they just might be surprised at what they hear.

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