In the early '90s, Paul Hardcastle moved away from the synth-pop and dance material that made him semi-famous during the '80s, choosing to pursue a jazz fusion direction with his 1993 album Jazzmasters I and 1994's Hardcastle, Vol. 1. The sequel, Hardcastle 2, is very similar in terms of style and content to its predecessor. Keeping vaguely club-oriented dance rhythms as the basis of his music, Hardcastle plays jazzy keyboard and guitar lines that alternate between the jazzy experimentation and jazzy, neo-psychedelic rock fusion (see his cover of Pink Floyd's "Money" for an example). And "jazzy" is the right term -- he's approximating the sound of jazz, without delving into the blood and guts that makes the music vital. Consequently, this is music that will please fusion freaks and dance club fanatics, but leave purists feeling cold. At the very least, purists can be (somewhat) heartened by the fact that Hardcastle 2 boasts the most substantive playing, if not material, that Hardcastle has yet demonstrated on record, and suggests that he could play real jazz if only he chose to.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine