As the reigning rock & roll survivor in 2010, weathering everything from dating shows to a brain hemorrhage, winning Celebrity Apprentice along the way, Bret Michaels was in need of new product for the marketplace, so he served up Custom Built in the summer of 2010. Like its 2008 predecessor, Rock My World, and 2005’s Freedom of Sound before that, Custom Built is odds-and-ends masquerading as a new album, rounding up brand-new cuts and leftovers from Michaels’ unheralded pre-Rock of Love 2000s. There are three songs from Freedom of Sound -- four, if the new rock mix of “Driven” is counted -- adding a remix of the Rock Of Love theme “Got That Far,” and closing with a cut plucked from 1998’s A Letter from Death Row. That leaves “Riding Against the Wind,” which is the theme for the new reality TV series Bret Michaels: Life as I Know It and seems like it could also serve as theme for one of Discovery’s sub-Deadliest Catch series, a silly cover of Sublime’s “What I Got,” the turgid country of “Wasted Time,” the overheated Sunset Strip sleaze of “Lie to Me,” and “Nothing to Lose” as the brand new cuts here. The latter is the emphasis cut, showcased in two versions, one solo the other a quite memorable duet with Miley Cyrus, who seems to be singing along with the song for the first time in her bedroom, repeating the last word Bret sings or moaning tunelessly. Miley’s presence can hardly be called a sell-out for the rocker -- anybody prepping for his third or fourth reality TV show sold out long ago -- but rather a signal of how Custom Built attempts to serve everyone of Michaels’ niches: he’s a little bit country, a little bit rock & roll, even a little bit L.A. club dog, and his puppy dog eagerness to please is ingratiating even if the album itself is not.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine