The career of the New Jersey rock sextet Franke & the Knockouts peaked in June 1981, when their single "Sweetheart" reached number ten in the Billboard Hot 100; 30 years later, the anniversary edition of their compilation The Best of Franke & the Knockouts: Sweetheart brings back into print the highlights of their relatively brief recording career. There were two more Top 40 singles, "You're My Girl" and "Without You (Not Another Lonely Night)," and the first two of their three albums, Franke & the Knockouts and Below the Belt, charted. But it's easy to hear on the best-of both why the band succeeded, and why its success was short-lived. In their musical style and in lead singer/songwriter Franke Previte's vocals, their sound was very much of a piece with mainstream American pop/rock of the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. Not to put too fine a point on it, they sounded so much like Foreigner that anyone hearing one of their songs on the radio would have been likely to think it was the new Foreigner single. (Not surprisingly, Previte was later invited to audition as singer Lou Gramm's replacement in Foreigner.) That means, of course, that Franke & the Knockouts also sounded a lot like Jefferson Starship with Mickey Thomas and Journey with Steve Perry, purveying an arena rock sound topped by a smooth-voiced tenor. Franke & the Knockouts may have been just right for the radio of their time, but they faced insurmountable, better-established competition. Three decades on, their music remains pleasant, but not distinctive. It has been unavailable for some time because Previte managed to hold onto the rights to the recordings, which went out of print at the dawn of the CD era. Meanwhile, Previte reached a career peak of his own in April 1988, when his co-composition "(I've Had) The Time of My Life," the love theme from Dirty Dancing, won the Academy Award for Best Song. No recording of it appears on this album, but another Dirty Dancing song, Previte's demo of "Hungry Eyes," does as the first bonus track. When Hollywood finally got around to making a sequel to Dirty Dancing, called Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights, in 2004, Previte was naturally asked to participate. But his song "Beat of a Broken Heart" was not used, and thus makes its first appearance in his recording as this album's second bonus track.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann