Albert Hammond

Legend

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He might be better known to the younger generation as the father of the same-named Strokes guitarist, but Anglo-Gibraltarian singer/songwriter Albert Hammond penned more hits in the early '70s than his son's garage rock revivalists will probably manage in a lifetime, a sentiment celebrated by this 2010 collection of his most classic material. Avoiding the bog-standard compilation formula, Legend sees the former Family Dogg frontman revisit both his solo back catalog and the tracks he wrote for other artists, on 15 reworkings, mostly performed as duets with longtime friends and some of the musicians he's influenced. His collaborations with the Dandy Warhols' Courtney Taylor and Al Stewart on "The Free Electric Band," and "It Never Rains in Southern California" may be the only two of his own six hits included that made any impact in the U.S. and U.K., but they're far from the only recognizable tunes. "The Air That I Breathe" is a string-soaked interpretation of the Hollies' chart-topper, which combines his world-weary tones with the sprightly pop harmonies of Cliff Richard; Ron Sexsmith lends his troubadour vocals to a sax-fueled cocktail-lounge take on Leo Sayer's number one "When I Need You," while Bonnie Tyler takes the Grace Slick role on a faithful rendition of Starship's colossal '80s hit "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now." Other than the unnecessary use of Auto-Tune on Tina Turner B-side, "Don't Turn Around" (later made famous by Aswad), the production doesn't appear to have moved on from the originals, as "Tangled Up in Tears," a duet with Eurovision winner Helena Paparizou, could have been a contest entry from the '80s; the tinny Wurlitzers and game show synths of Leapy Lee's "Little Arrows" sound like they were recorded on a retro-children's keyboard, while the Fortunes' "Freedom Come Freedom Go" is subjected to a cheesy faux-reggae make-over which makes Ace of Base sound like Bob Marley. Legend is much less obtrusive when its sound is more stripped-down, as on the acoustic Latin pop of Julio Iglesias duet, "Echame a Mi la Culpa" (one of three foreign-language songs included), and the Beatlesque (and only new) composition, "Changing Me," a touching duet with his namesake son. When it comes to songwriting, Hammond more than lives up to the album title's status, but apart from a few exceptions, this disappointing set of adaptations perhaps explains why he's more renowned for his behind-the-scenes work than his on-state performances.

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