98.6/Ain't Gonna Lie

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Sublime is the only way to describe Keith's biggest hit, the top 10 "98.6" and the almost as wonderful Top 40 hit which preceded it two months before, "Ain't Gonna Lie". This twelve song album is resplendent in Kal Rudman's obtuse, exaggerated liner notes which years later read like so much unnecessary nonsense and hyperbole. The artist deserved a more classy approach. All three albums by Keith are highly listenable adventures, and though one tune here, "White Lightin', would have been better left on the cutting room floor, there's a real nugget in the cover of "Tell Me To My Face", written by Graham Nash, Allan Clarke and Tony Hicks from The Hollies Stop! Stop! Stop! album. That's the disc where those three Hollies wrote all the tunes on their own, and it's a wonderful find. In fact, the Alice Cooper group lifted their melody for "Billion Dollar Babies" right from this composition, almost note for note. The rendition here has Arabian nights instrumentation, clever, classy and memorable. For the most part the album is solid material, Fischoff, Powers, producer Jerry Ross and arranger Joe Renzetti dominating the album with adult pop, a stunning amalgam of Chris Montez meets Tony Hatch. Ross, Renzetti, Fischoff and Powers have the perfect voice/vehicle for their smartly crafted melodies and the singer is always in tune with very appealing vocal chords. It sounds like they modeled this material after what Burt Bacharach and Hal David were doing for Dionne Warwick and the pity here is that Keith didn't get the chance as Dionne did to send songs like "Our Love Started All Over Again" way up the charts. You can hear hints of Gene Pitney, elements that combine and make for a refreshing sixties moment that got away. Such a shame, for the brilliance of "98.6" was no fluke, Keith was the real thing. Maybe it was Kal Rudman's incessant gushing that held this creative collection of melodies back? Still, "98.6" remains as a truly special pop moment, a song as monumental as Al Anderson's "No Good To Cry" and, thankfully, not as obscure.

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