Chris Bartley

Sweetest Thing This Side of Heaven

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A CD clone of Chris Bartley's 1967 LP on Van McCoy's Vando Records. Collectables Records tacked the extra song "Love Me Baby" on to make it a baker's dozen with McCoy writing and producing every track. Bartley scored the first time out with "Sweetest Thing This Side of Heaven," a lilting beauty caressed by Bartley's flowery falsetto. The follow-up, the Motown-ish, formulaic "Baby It's Wonderful," flopped, though it probably sounded like a straight hit in the recording studio booming from those big speakers. He's better on "You Get Next to My Heart," the third single, the lilting "Sittin' Pretty," where he displays a honey soaked false voice, and "Hooked on You," a hard-edged up-tempo number where he sings natural and falsetto. Oozing with love is a remake of the Spellbinders' "For You," one of McCoys' best floaters; the up-tempo "Gotta Tell Somebody (About My Baby)" shows he can jam with the right material. Regardless of the tempo, Bartley's always depicted as a love-struck romantic.

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