Randy Crawford

The Best of Randy Crawford [Rhino]

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Six years after 2005's The Ultimate Collection, Georgia jazz-soul vocalist Randy Crawford's underrated back catalog was raided again, this time by Rhino Records to produce the slimmed-down compilation The Best of Randy Crawford. Ignoring the two covers albums recorded with keyboardist Joe Sample in the intervening years (Feeling Good, No Regrets), all but one of its 17 tracks appeared on its predecessor, with only "Worn But Not Tattered," her contribution to guitarist Allen Hinds' 2006 LP Beyond It All, providing anything new, and indeed anything from the last 16 years. Understandably focusing on her heyday, the rest of the track list includes material from her 1976 debut Everything Must Change (the title track) up to 1995's Naked and True (her cover of George Benson's "Give Me the Night"), but it's her string of early-'80s hit singles which will be the most familiar to casual fans. Alongside the rare groove classic "Street Life," there's her highest-charting track, "One Day I'll Fly Away," her rendition of Brook Benton's "Rainy Night in Georgia," and "You Might Need Somebody" (later made famous by Shola Ama), all of which showcase her sumptuous, soulful tones. Elsewhere there are collaborations with jazz fusion quartet Yellowjackets for a live performance of John Lennon's "Imagine" (recorded in Montreaux for the Casino Lights project) and Italian rock vocalist Zucchero ("Diamante"), a jazz-funk interpretation of Dinah Washington's "What a Diff'rence a Day Made," and two self-penned tracks, "Almaz" and "Tender Is the Rain," which show she is just as gifted a songwriter as she is a balladeer. Whether there was any need for such a similar compilation so soon remains to be seen, but The Best of Randy Crawford still contains an impressive body of work, which makes the lack of success in her homeland even more astonishing.

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