Michael d'Abo

Little Miss Understood: Mike d'Abo Collection, Vol. 2

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Mike d'Abo is one of those artists who's a quandary to evaluate. He's got too much singing and songwriting talent to dismiss, but not enough to get excited about. And that applies to the music collected on this anthology, which has songs from three of his 1972-1976 albums (Down at Rachel's Place, Broken Rainbows, and Smith & d'Abo), as well as both sides of a 1974 single that was only released in Japan. The 1972 LP Down at Rachel's Place is especially heavily represented, with eight cuts, and it's very much in the early-'70s singer/songwriting mode, as are the songs from its more rustic follow-up, Broken Rainbows. D'Abo himself cites Elton John and Cat Stevens as his role models of the time in his liner notes, and indeed there are heavy similarities to both them and other singer/songwriting figureheads like Carole King and Randy Newman. Yet neither his singing nor his songwriting are as distinctive as any of those names, or as invested with strong, melodic hooks. The five tracks from Smith & d'Abo are a collaboration between d'Abo and Mike Smith of the Dave Clark Five (who co-wrote the material), yet are sluggish, stereotypically over-lush mid-'70s productions that are a far cry from both Mikes' glory days in the British Invasion. For all that, some of this is likable, if rather forgettable, and it does include d'Abo's own version of the most famous song here, "Little Miss Understood," which had been covered by Rod Stewart on a 1968 single.

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