David Lasley

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David Lasley has had a long career in the most commercial and most obscure byways of the music business, always finding work somewhere as a session singer, songwriter, or both. Thus, a collection of Lasley's work spanning his entire career -- as this CD purports to be -- is bound to be a sweeping tour of whatever style was selling over a 35-year span of American popular music. He seems to have tried almost everything -- imitation '60s Motown, a cappella vocals with congas, soul, reggae, soft rock, sentimental ballads with strings or not, various incarnations of R&B, disco, techno-pop, techno-soul, advertising jingles, movie toons, and so on. Yet this is not really a chameleon who merges anonymously into every idiom, for Lasley has a signature that ties most of this stuff together, a sturdy falsetto not unlike that of the Saturday Night Fever-era Bee Gees. His only charted single, "If I Had My Wish Tonight," a totally commercial power ballad that oozes 1982 from every drum stroke and guitar fill, turns up early on, and you wonder why there weren't any more, for most of the tunes here -- even the demos -- sound calculated to find a spot somewhere on radios of the time. For your listening pleasure, there are even some jingles that Lasley made for Aunt Jemima and Seagram's and a 52-second home recording with his sister at age 16. Unfortunately, the collection is flawed in two significant ways. With such a vast timeframe to cover, Lasley should have taken a chronological approach, from his rare early work with the Utopias onward, instead of this randomly zigzagging grab-bag of tracks. Also, the main booklet is a botch: Lasley's detailed liner notes are printed with such small type as to be virtually unreadable (was Lasley trying to save money by keeping the number of pages down?), and the songs aren't listed in toto anywhere else -- and in totally unreadable red print! It's available from his website at www.davidlasley.com.

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