Jules Shear

Horse of a Different Color: The Jules Shear Collection (1976-1989)

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Horse of a Different Color: The Jules Shear Collection performs a tremendous service for Jules Shear fans, collecting the best songs from his entire career in one easily digestible package, whether they're from his solo albums or from his earlier albums with Jules and the Polar Bears, his later album with the Reckless Sleepers (a one-off band with Jimmy Vivino, later of Conan O'Brien's house band, and ex-Wings drummer Steve Holley), or, remarkably, even his 1976 recording debut with the all-but-unknown Funky Kings. Impressively, Shear's voice remains distinctive throughout; that refers both to his authorial style, mixing clever turns of phrase with instantly memorable pop/rock melodies, and his vocals, which probably even Shear himself admits are the main thing that's kept him from becoming much more than a cult hero. Still, his distinctive Bostonian bray has its charms, even when he's threatening to lapse off key at any second, and it grows on you. The best tracks, especially "If We Never Meet Again" and the paranoid synth pop workout "Whispering Your Name," are actually even better than hits (for other people, natch) like "All Through the Night" and "If She Knew What She Wants."

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