Neil Sedaka

Happy Birthday, Sweet Sixteen: The Very Best of Neil Sedaka

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British reissue label Music Club's Happy Birthday, Sweet Sixteen: The Very Best of Neil Sedaka, drawn from the vault of RCA Victor Records (now controlled by Sony BMG Music Entertainment) is a two-CD set containing 36 tracks and running over 110 minutes that chronicles Sedaka's career from 1958 to 1972. All of the hits he scored in the U.K. in the late 1950s and early ‘60s are included: "I Go Ape," "Oh! Carol," "Stairway to Heaven," "You Mean Everything to Me," "Calendar Girl," "Little Devil," "Happy Birthday, Sweet Sixteen," "King of Clowns," "Breaking Up Is Hard to Do," "Next Door to an Angel," and "Let's Go Steady Again." Also included are a few of his U.S.-only hits of the same period: "The Diary," "Run Samson Run," "Sweet Little You," "Alice in Wonderland," and "Bad Girl." Nearly all of these tracks are on the first CD. Things get more subjective on the second CD, which is dominated early on by selections from Sedaka's 1972 album Solitaire, featuring nine of its 11 tracks, including the title song and "Beautiful You," which was a British singles chart entry. Inexplicably, among the two songs from the LP not included is "That's When the Music Takes Me," which was a Top 20 hit in the U.K. in 1973. Following the Solitaire tracks are several more recordings that date from the early ‘70s, then the collection abruptly reverts to the early ‘60s for a final five tracks, among them Sedaka's take on the show tune "We Kiss in a Shadow" from The King and I, which is given a Nelson Riddle-style neo-swing arrangement. The result is a compilation that presents all but one of Sedaka's British hits prior to his mid-‘70s comeback (which occurred after he had left RCA for PolyGram), even if the filler material sometimes seems oddly chosen and sequenced.

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