Forget Sweatin' to the Oldies; just this cover gets us perspiring!

May 18, 2011 at 12:00 am


Richard Simmons
Reach (Elektra), 1982

Beach Boy Brian Wilson once toyed with the idea doing a musical physical fitness album — but it was left to the world's most annoying talk-show guest to come up with rock's first "exercise album for the ears." Reach is nothing less than Stuart Smalley's disco inferno, an album pickled with sticky self-affirmations like "You're much too smart to break your heart" and "No one means more than you this time." Simmons' voice lies somewhere in the uncomfortable spectrum between Frankie Valli and Carol Channing. And the album's exercise manual is not for the weak of stomach either, as it contains 226 action poses of Simmons impersonating an inflatable sex doll of Leo Sayer. But no other album in all of rock tells you to "eat right and take small bites even when you're alone" and "exhale" ad nauseam, unless there's a Morrissey import someone's not telling us about. Mercifully, this album stiffed and Simmons confined his musical exercises to sweating to the oldies thereafter. But who knows, we may have gotten a follow-up if Dr. Eugene Landy was actively looking for a new codependent or recording project in between writing Sweet Insanity and Brian Wilson's "autobiography." —Serene Dominic