John Miles

Decca Singles (1975-1979)

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Known mostly for his 1976 UK #3 hit "Music" and his 1977 UK Top Ten hit "Slow Down" (which also dented the US Top Forty), Miles also had some substantial success in numerous other European countries, though mostly with "Music." He kept at it through the second half of the 1970s, however, and this 17-track compilation gathers all of the tracks that appeared on his 1975-79 Decca singles, just like the title says. During this period Miles was almost stereotypically representative of certain facets of 1970s rock, particularly the part that sprang out of the more pop-oriented legacy of the Beatles. A good deal of this sounds like Paul McCartney's more piano-and-pop-oriented material, whether with the late Beatles or solo; some of it slightly recalls Badfinger (who of course were quite Beatlesque) at their most wistful; and you might think of Supertramp at other moments. The glossy production and orchestration marks it as having been cut in the mid-to-late 1970s, and occasional songs with more obtrusive percussion bear a slight (and, on "Slow Down," strong) disco influence. Miles's high voice can bring to mind an MOR Pete Townshend, and perhaps a bit of Eric Carmen too. Yet while his knack for competently plugging into centrist rock of the period might have helped ease his way to a bit of success, it also ensured that his work wouldn't be nearly as distinctive or memorable as those of the figures to whom he generates comparisons. But if this will never be the kind of archival compilation to wear as a badge of hipness, it isn't a bad souvenir of a certain time and place. It's listenable if you like the kind of styles he favors, though the songs don't leap out at you like the best of McCartney's (or even Supertramp's) do.

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