The dwindling record sales, the rather embarrassing tabloid kiss-and-tells, and the downright unflattering Bo' Selecta! impersonations have made it easy to forget that not so long ago, Craig David was one of Britain's most credible soul talents. His fusion of 2-step and soulful R&B struck a chord with audiences both at home and across the Atlantic, his debut album became the fastest-selling ever by a male solo artist, and his failure to pick up any Brit Awards -- after being nominated for six -- sparked a tabloid frenzy. Greatest Hits, featuring 12 Top 40 singles, is a comprehensive roundup of David's career so far, taking in the early glory days, the backlash years, and three new tracks that suggest he isn't ready to be written off just yet. Not surprisingly, it's the contributions from the multi-platinum Born to Do It that are the strongest. Number ones "Fill Me In" and "7 Days" effortlessly blend his trademark quickfire lyrical delivery with Mark Hill's subtle acoustic soul production, while "Walking Away," arguably his best single, is a heartfelt bluesy number reminiscent of U2's "One." Falling victim to the "build them up, knock them down" mentality of the British press, second album Slicker Than Your Average was accused of pandering to U.S. audiences. However, only the futuristic, vocoderized funk of the underrated "What's Your Flava" sounded anything like a radical departure. The infectious soul-pop of "Hidden Agenda" and piano-led ballad "You Don't Miss Your Water" would quite easily have fit on his debut, while the Sting duet "Rise and Fall," which became his biggest hit for three years, was quintessentially British. But the unjust criticism seemed to knock David's confidence, and "All the Way" and "Don't Love You No More," the two rather bland singles from third album The Story Goes..., suggest David was afraid to play it anything other than far too safe. A new beefed-up look for fourth album Trust Me was reflected in its lead single, "Hot Stuff," whose muscular beats and punchy synths perfectly complemented the David Bowie "Let's Dance" sample. However, the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink production of "6 of 1 Thing" showed why its parent album barely sold a 20th of his debut. But while David is unlikely to achieve the million-selling success of his heyday, he is still capable of producing the odd killer single. New track "Insomnia," which owes more than just a nod to Ne-Yo's "Closer," is a glorious slice of dance-pop and his most club-friendly single since the genre-defining Artful Dodger collaboration "Rewind," also included here. Greatest Hits is undoubtedly an inconsistent listen, but packed with several classic singles, it should resurrect the chart fortunes of one of the decade's most talented and unique R&B singers.
AllMusic Review by Jon O'Brien