Not Just for Dancing is an important CD release by Boston/Belgium songwriter/singer Andy Pratt; shedding the complexities of his first and second albums from the early '70s, these songs rock out with a smart yet innocently commercial edge. This serious pop music, filled with heartfelt vocals as on "Who Will Be My Friend" and "What Can I Do," is full of moments superstars Billy Joel and Phil Collins only wish they could bring to their repertoire. With close to an hour's worth of music, a lot of territory is covered, culminating in "Israel," a brilliant gem of a composition which is one of the key pieces of the Andy Pratt catalog. The gorgeous piano fades up with a no-nonsense vocal and pounding drums, everything getting pulled right into the vacuum hook -- jazz piano lines being the perfect foil, keeping the burning Billy Loosigian guitar blasts in check. Producer Leroy Radcliffe was guitarist in the second wave of the Modern Lovers and one of the original members of Robin Lane & the Chartbusters. His flawless production on the Massachusetts hit "Girl With the Curious Hand" for Digney Fignus was the precursor to this set of tunes that originally formed the Fun in the First World five-song disc. Combined with outtakes from the sessions for that EP and material performed by Pratt in the Netherlands, these are said to be his last recordings from the 1980s. "Face I Wear" is that introspection from his self-titled second album, his first and only for Columbia -- quasi-techno keys play against Pratt's falsetto with shimmering production.
The liner notes give general information about the artist's prolific avalanche of material in the new millennium, but they don't tell listeners which tracks Andy Newmark and Tony Levin play on. Hearing "Carry You" is a real shock -- and treat -- for longtime Andy Pratt fans, while "Modern Police" has enough mystery, intrigue, and creative spark to give the "repeat" button a good workout. Not Just for Dancing is an impressive combination of emotions and musical styles that begs repeated -- and thoughtful -- listening.