Hello: The Very Best of Lee Michaels

Lee Michaels

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Hello: The Very Best of Lee Michaels Review

by Tim Sendra

At his best Lee Michaels melded blues, soul, hard rock, and jazz like a second-division Traffic. His voice came nowhere near that of Stevie Winwood but carried enough charm to be likable. His big hit was the totally anomalous bubblegum funk single "Do You Know What I Mean." This collection replaces the out of print collections on Rhino and One Way that cover Michaels' recordings made for A&M between 1968 and 1972. Despite inexplicably having far fewer tracks than either of those releases, Hello: The Very Best of Lee Michaels does a pretty good job of presenting Michaels' work. It is weighted a bit heavily toward Michaels' later recordings but not annoyingly so. Apart from the deathless "Do You Know What I Mean," the best songs here are the scorching rocker "Hello," the baroque boogie of "If I Lose You," the laid-back ballad "Uummmm My Lady," and "Heighty Hi," which appears here in its single edit. Among the good-time rock tracks are some Vietnam protest racks ("The War," "Thumbs"), an overly lengthy and ponderous "Stormy Weather," and a fiery version of Marvin Gaye's "Can I Get a Witness" that was his only other Top 40 hit (probably thanks to an organ line that is a direct lift from "Do You Know What I Mean"). Michaels is not a lost genius or merely a lightweight one-hit wonder; rather he falls somewhere in between, and while this collection isn't essential by any means, it is a worthwhile addition to the collection of a '70s rock buff. If you can't find a second-hand copy of one of the previous collections, that is.

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