Joan Osborne

One of Us

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Joan Osborne's "One of Us" was her one and only hit back in 1995, and it gave her near-mythical status though it misrepresented her talent as a singer. Osborne is a soul singer and a blues singer. She has performed with everyone from the Funk Brothers to the Grateful Dead. She's also released very few recordings. And seeing her name on anything gets the listener's hopes up. In this case, they are dashed, as One of Us is a compilation of tracks from her debut album, Relish, and 2002's fine How Sweet It Is. While "One of Us" will be the best-known cut here, it's the soul tracks, such as "Why Can't We Live Together," Barrett Strong's "Smiling Faces Sometimes," Sly Stone's "Everybody Is a Star," Thom Bell's "I'll Be Around," and Stevie Wonder's "Love's in Need of Love Today," that take the cake. In addition, her cover of Dave Mason's classic rock smash "Only You Know and I Know" adds plenty to the original. However, given that everything is taken from only two albums, this isn't even representative of Osborne's recording career -- it leaves out cuts from Blue Million Miles, Righteous Love, and her 1991 independent debut Soul Show. From a fan's perspective, there is nothing here; for the novice, this is a fine introduction to Osborne, though it doesn't begin to give the entire picture.

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