John Waite

Live & Rare Tracks

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"Live & Outtakes" would be a slightly more accurate title for this album, which contains five previously unreleased studio recordings made during sessions for John Waite's 1987 album Rover's Return and seven live tracks that aural evidence suggests date from a 1985 concert in Los Angeles. "[T]here's nothing revelatory here," opines annotator Stephen Thomas Erlewine, adding, however, that, had the studio tracks been used on Rover's Return, every one "would have strengthened the album, making it the equal of Mask of Smiles," Waite's previous release. One might note that Waite's goal probably was not to equal Mask of Smiles, which had marked a fall-off in sales, but to match its predecessor, the gold-selling Top Ten hit No Brakes, which had spawned the number one single "Missing You." There are several tunes that echo "Missing You" among the five, but nothing that is quite as catchy. Waite even enlisted songwriters Billy Steinberg and Tom Kelly (authors of "Eternal Flame," "Like a Virgin," and "True Colors"), who penned "I Drove All Night," the leadoff track here. When Waite failed to use it, they placed it with Cyndi Lauper, who scored a Top Ten hit with it in 1989. On the live tracks, Waite performs some of his solo hits ("Missing You," "Tears," "Change"), looks back to his days with the Babys for "Midnight Rendezvous," and adds songs from No Brakes and the then-new Mask of Smiles. He rocks out effectively before what sounds like a young, adoring audience. As Erlewine suggests, there's nothing here that is going to change anyone's mind about John Waite, but his old fans should welcome these bits and pieces.

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