This 2013 RPM two-fer reissues a Sequel two-fer from the late '90s. I'm Gonna Be Strong was the U.K. title for Pitney's 1964 album It Hurts to Be in Love, as "Strong" was a bigger hit in the U.K. than it was in the U.S. (and vice versa for "Hurts"), and there are other minor differences between the two LPs. The same thing is true of Looking Through the Eyes of Love, which is the U.K. companion to the U.S. 1965 release I Must Be Seeing Things. In any incarnation, these two LPs are very much pop collections of their time, alternating between bright, chirpy pop tunes and thick, sticky ballads, with a undeniable slice of melodrama punctuating proceedings every once in a while. The best of these is "It Hurts to Be in Love," a song ideally suited to Pitney's operatic tendencies, but he's always at his best when the production is expansive (such as "Follow the Sun," which is strikingly moody; the Spector-esque treatment of Jagger/Richards' "That Girl Belongs to Yesterday"; or the mash-up of '60s production tics that is "Lips Are Redder on You"). Unlike some pop peers, Pitney was game to try anything, and he did, from Italian tunes to absurd kitsch like "Hawaii," and he also was an accomplished songwriter ("Marianne") with a good ear for material (he was one of the first to cover Randy Newman's "Just One Smile"). All this ambition, along with his keening voice, can make these two early LPs feel slightly scattered, but cherry-picking through them does result in some strong underheard and undervalued '60s pop gems.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine