Gerry Rafferty

The Best of 1970-1982: Days Gone Down

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Raven Records, those specializers in career-spanning compilations that license from multiple sources, do a typically fine job with this Gerry Rafferty anthology. The 21 tracks include cuts by the Humblebums, the folk duo in which (with comedian Billy Connolly) he recorded in his early career; four songs from his obscure, self-titled 1971 debut solo album; five from his mid-'70s group Stealers Wheel, all but one written or co-written by Rafferty; and nine from his solo albums of the late '70s and early '80s, when he briefly attained international stardom. In so doing, this CD illustrates his journey from folk and folk-rock to album-oriented singer/songwriter rock, one of which listeners only familiar with the hits "Baker Street" or (from his Stealers Wheel days) "Stuck in the Middle with You" might not be wholly aware. True, "Baker Street" and "Stuck in the Middle with You" still stick out as his most memorable tunes by far, and the final selections, from the early '80s, are the worst and blandest on the disc. Most of the tracks, however, testify to his modest but notable talents as an affecting, likably sincere singer/songwriter, with more gifts for pop melody than most of his not-quite-top-of-the-line peers in the genre. The liner notes give a good overview of his fitful and varied recording career.

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