Dr. Hook

Classic Masters

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Classic Masters Review

by Hal Horowitz

After hitting the cover of Rolling Stone with "The Cover of the Rolling Stone," Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show shortened their name as they changed labels and, most drastically, their style. Gone were the humorous, self-deprecating C&W ditties like "Penicillin Penny" (many written by Shel Silverstein), replaced with slick, often smarmy pop, many embellished with sterile disco beats and lush '70-styled strings. The commercial sheen worked and the band racked up three million sellers with the sugary "Sharing the Night Together," "When You're in Love With a Beautiful Woman," and "Sexy Eyes." For those just interested in these songs and others that ape the style, this budget-priced 12-track collection works just fine. As a well-rounded representation of the band though, it's extremely one sided. "...Rolling Stone," which was recorded for Columbia, only appears here in a substandard live version that closes the album. It shows just how much the band changed from a group of savvy satirists to a faceless, overproduced hit machine. As of 2002, a previous single-disc collection, Greatest Hits (And More), which includes all of this material, was still in print. Although it doesn't boast the digital remastering of Classic Masters, it does add three more songs, including their first hit, "Sylvia's Mother," and the original version of "...Rolling Stone," making it a better choice for those who want a brief overview of Dr. Hook.

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