Shortly before being confirmed as United Nations Ambassador, John Bolton once again embraced his musical side with his sixth album, Time, War & Tendinitis, which continues the flatline yet soothing sound that Bolton established on his previous album, Soul Destroyer. Without even bothering to shave his ridiculous moustache, Bolton has somehow created an album that has gone on to sell six million copies, mostly to aging, BMW-driving accountants who have finally come to terms with the fact that they have no real taste in music.
His chief collaborator this time around is former Republican Justice Earl Warren, whose death in 1974 did not preclude Bolton from sifting through Justice Warren’s treasure trove of bad poetry and hastily written lyrics. Warren penned half of the songs on this album and his passion for that old-time war hawk feeling can be heard on the album’s highlight track, “When a Man Loves a Weapon,” a loving paean to both the cold war and unilateralism.
But while Bolton’s album cannot be played when you’re making out in the back seat with your girlfriend, Track No. 5, “Now That I Found God” is a melodious little romp to play if you’re ever feeling alone or isolated after you’ve told everybody in the world that you and only you are right. Bolton’s bark is indeed as bad as his bite, as he croons during the second verse, “I could’ve screamed forever/And never realized/The terrorists of our lifetime/Were anyone else inside your eyes.” Never mind the fact that “realized” and “eyes” don’t actually rhyme. This song is more concerned with the advantages of corruption and abrasive authority. As another odious solo from Kenny G plays in the background, Bolton then barks at several unidentified underlings in the studio, expertly berating them while tying this into a fundamenalist jangle that reaches a crushing crescendo of hate and inflexibility. (One leaves this particular track wondering if Bolton is truly suffering from tendenitis or if the pain in question is psychosomatic.)
Alas, such a hate-filled mainstream sound cannot last for an entire album. Near the album’s end, Bolton sounds as if he’s had the wind knocked out of him. On “Save Me,” Bolton sings this chorous: “Warrior you’ve gotta save me, oh warrior don’t you drive me crazy.” Shortly after each round, we hear the distinct sound of something being unzipped and other things that cannot be mentioned in a family newspaper.
Still, this is a solid record for priapic neocons, with nary an olive branch offered for anyone outside Bolton’s obdurate and controversial political ideology.