Paul Anka

Anka/Feelings

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This discount-priced two-fer with bonus tracks chronicles Paul Anka's commercial comeback of 1974-1976, including his gold-selling 1974 album, Anka; its 1975 follow-up, Feelings; and the singles "Times of Your Life" and "Happier." The 32-year-old Anka had scored only one Top 40 hit in the previous decade when "(You're) Having My Baby" took off for number one in the summer of 1974. Remembered as a teen idol of the early '60s, he was actually an accomplished songwriter who assisted the careers of some members of the wave of early-'70s singer/songwriters, and he took from them a sense that songwriting could be more personal and address more adult concerns. "(You're) Having My Baby" was certainly a sincere statement of love from a happily married man with five daughters, but it was also a timely reflection on social mores a year after the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion. Its provocative nature assured a powerful response and brought Anka back to the attention of audiences, and he exploited that interest with subsequent Top 20 hits "One Man Woman/One Woman Man," "I Don't Like to Sleep Alone," "(I Believe) There's Nothing Stronger Than Our Love," and "Times of Your Life," all included here. Working with the Muscle Shoals rhythm section, he achieved funky arrangements with light grooves to support mature lyrics that spoke frankly (for the mid-'70s, that is) of physical love. His words didn't have the emotional complexity characteristic of the new singer/songwriters, being restricted for the most part to generic declarations of love, loss, and betrayal directed at a partner addressed as either "girl" or "baby," but this was hot stuff for the easy listening crowd of the day, and nearly 30 years later the simple, direct compositions continued to hold up.

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