Adam Faith

Adam [1960]

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It may have ensured his own longevity, but Adam Faith's transformation from successful pop star to even more successful actor deprived the world of pre-Beatles Brit-pop of one of its most spellbinding practitioners. The erstwhile Terence Nelhams was playing skiffle when TV producer Jack Good advised him to change his name, but Faith was still an unknown film editor when he was rediscovered by John Barry and catapulted to fame by the Drumbeat TV series. A string of chart-topping singles followed, but even before work on his first album commenced, Faith had already shown where his heart really lay. Sessions for the record were postponed for seven months after the singer landed a role in Peter Sellers' Never Let Go movie. Adam finally appeared in late 1960, and initially amazes by its lack of past hit singles. No "What Do You Want," no "Poor Me," no "How About That," and no future smashes either. While the album itself quickly soared to number six, there would be no singles whatsoever taken from it...ah, those were the days! Reissued in 1997 with both its original mono and the ultra-rare stereo mixes present on one disc, the most remarkable thing about Adam is the sheer dynamic strength of the material. It has long been fashionable to regard British pop from this era as weak-kneed pap, with Cliff Richard alone leading the campaign for quality music. Adam punctures the point with singular ease. Much of the credit for the album's quality must, of course, go to Barry, whose signature string and girlie chorus arrangements dominate the proceedings. But an interesting selection of material indicates Faith's own versatility. Without ever stepping too far out of the balladic mode, he does indicate far broader tastes, most notably during the finger-popping "Greenfinger," the salutary tale of a young man who bought his girl a cheapo ring, then watched as her finger turned green. There is a reasonably rocking version of "Singing in the Rain" and a crazed swing through "Hit the Road to Dreamland." "Summertime," the George Gershwin standard that seems to have been in the repertoire of every band of the 1960s, is also given an especially punishing workout, without ever resorting to anything so crass as "rock & roll" stylings. Quite simply, it could have escaped from a Bond theme, while Faith's vocals have an addictively dreamy quality to them. The end result might be a million miles removed from what Janis Joplin would wreak upon the same defenseless tune, but pressed for a definitive reading, Faith even has the edge on her. So, it's all very classy and yes, a little old-fashioned, too. But since when has that been a bad thing? The Beatles aren't exactly cutting-edge technologists either, anymore.

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