Ain't Gonna Lie

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Not to be confused with his debut LP, 98.6/Ain't Gonna Lie, the more briefly titled Ain't Gonna Lie has all the Keith anyone should need. The 27 tracks include everything from his first two LPs, 1967's 98.6/Ain't Gonna Lie and the follow-up, Out of Crank (also from 1967), as well as three additional songs from 1967-1968 singles and one previously unreleased cut, "I'll Always Love You." There are also finely detailed historical liner notes, including quotes from producer Jerry Ross and period photos. The chief drawback of this anthology is one true of so many artists only remembered for one or two hits: those one or two hits are much more memorable than everything else the artist had to offer. In Keith's case, those hits were "98.6" and "Ain't Gonna Lie"; though a much lesser smash, the latter was actually a better song and the singer's peak moment, with its immensely catchy melody and light swinging blue-eyed soul groove. True, his strange cover of the Hollies' "Tell Me to My Face," with its strange snake-charming instrumental accompaniment, did make the Top 40. Beyond that, however, much of this sounds like AM pop radio of 1966-1968 without the hooks to actually get on AM radio, reflecting the day's trends in blue-eyed soul, bubblegum, and slightly Philly soul-influenced mainstream pop/rock. Keith's voice was good and some of material was fun, but both voice and material fell a little short of being something truly special. All that's being a bit too harsh on the lad, perhaps, since a good chunk of this is passingly pleasant, unassumingly upbeat, and quite well-produced ear candy. Most of the best stuff is from the first album, like the aforementioned hits and "Pretty Little Shy One," "You'll Come Running Back to Me," "Mind if I Hang Around," and the Righteous Brothers-ish "Our Love Started All Over Again," though the subsequent "There's Always Tomorrow," "Times Gone Bye," "Be My Girl," "I'm So Proud," and "Hurry" are pretty fair too.

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