The Coasters

Magical Favorites

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Appearing in the spring of 2015, Magical Favorites is the first new Coasters studio album in a long, long time. Stardust claims it's the first new Coasters album in 35 years, but the group wasn't active in 1980; in fact, there's no real notice of a Coasters LP from that year outside of a cut-rate live one. If we're talking about the last new Coasters studio album, containing new songs and not recycled hits, that'd have to have arrived some 50 years earlier with That Is Rock & Roll. Fifty years is a long time, so it's not a surprise that the 2015 incarnation of the Coasters doesn't have the same lineup as the 1965 lineup. In fact, it has none of the original members. This group was partially assembled by the late Carl Gardner, Sr., so it bears some semblance of endorsement (nevertheless, there's another version of the Coasters touring in the 2010s led by founding member Leon Hughes), but anybody involved in Magical Favorites is counting on the Coasters name being seen as a brand, not a band. In this context, the Coasters are happy purveyors of nostalgia, singing big hits of the '50s, '60s, and '70s, a songbook where "Turn Back the Hands of Time" and Barry White's "Can't Get Enough of Your Love Babe" qualify as curveballs. Those two selections suggest how this is anchored not only in '70s soul but '70s show biz. Far from streetwise doo wop harmonizers, this crew seem like they're playing a bespangled soundstage for a variety show. They're amiable enough, but the happiness quotient is undercut by an oddly muddy and murky production, one that's a dead ringer for the countless cheapo greatest-hits re-recordings that have cluttered the record bins for years. To its credit, Magical Favorites is indeed new and not another of these lousy LPs, but it's still not very good: it's stilted and corny: nostalgia for the indiscriminate.

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