Val Doonican

At His Best

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No one is ever going to mistake Val Doonican for rock & roll. Indeed, the veteran Irish crooner has more in common with Perry Como (even down to the cardigans and laid-back manner) than any of his British chart contemporaries. But his material always tended to be just a tad hipper than Como, even if it was for the slippers and armchair set. There was an easy, folksy sheen to his material that gave him more of a crossover, and that's captured here. In many ways, this is like visiting a favorite old uncle and hearing him sing away for pleasure. Nothing rankles; everything is smooth, warm, and comforting. And with such a long career, to say these songs are Doonican at his best isn't necessarily true. He's long been a multifaceted performer, adept at folk, standards, and even novelty songs. But all that kept him at the top in the U.K., although he never managed to find a toehold in America. Still, if you want to understand what caused a minor fuss in Britain back in the '60s, this is a fine place to begin.

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