Bruce Willis

Universal Masters

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If sunny front porches remind you of Bruce Willis' bluesy late-'80s turn towards wine cooler jingles, then this installment of the Universal Masters is a must-buy. It includes 1987's Return of Bruno in its entirety, and highlights from the 1989 follow-up If It Don't Kill You, It Just Makes You Stronger. There are also a few neither here nor there tracks, like a ridiculous "Extended 12" Version" of "Respect Yourself." Straining to fill up the extended groove, it wisely leans on the skills of Willis' duet partner, June Pointer. What becomes most apparent here is how much Willis sounds like his onscreen "self," and how easily that familiar half-smirk delivery cons us into believing that "Jackpot [Bruno's Bop]," "Down In Hollywood," and "Comin' Right Up" actually have some redeeming value. This illusion makes portions of Universal Masters as enjoyable as, say, Color of Night. That said, a trunk-full of that David Addison charm wouldn't be able to save ham-fisted fare like "Secret Agent Man/James Bond Is Back" or "Save the Last Dance for Me." Including the audio to Willis' shuffling Seagram's shill would have been a move of pure kitsch genius; instead, there's the generic action movie swagger of "Fun Time."

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