Billy Joe Royal

Greatest Hits [Atlantic]

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Not to be confused with the Greatest Hits collection that Columbia released in 1989, this 1991 CD focuses on Billy Joe Royal's Atlantic output of the 1980s. Although this pop and pop-country material on the whole is much too slick, hits like "Old Bridges Run Deep," "'Til I Can't Take It Any More," and "Burned Like a Rocket" are likable enough. The CD's excessive slickness doesn't erase the fact that Royal's voice has a highly soulful quality. Black R&B has had a major impact on his vocal style, and it's obvious that he's spent a lot of time listening to Aaron Neville (a major influence), as well as Sam Cooke and Al Green. In fact, one of the CD's high points is a cover of Neville's signature song, "Tell It Like It Is." (Royal and Simply Red leader Mick Hucknall may have gone down very different roads, but they do have a lot of common ground in terms of influences.) Not for country purists, this is a collection that pop and R&B fans will find to be a decent listen.

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