Kenny Lynch

Nothing But the Real Thing

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A couple dozen songs from 1960-1969, all (with one exception) taken from Kenny Lynch's singles, are on this well-done retrospective of the minor British soul-pop singer. All of his '60s U.K. chart hits are here -- "Up on the Roof," "You Can Never Stop Me Loving You," "Stand by Me," "What Am I to You," "Puff (Up in Smoke)," "Mountain of Love," and "I'll Stay by You." There's also his weedy early-1963 version of "Misery," the first cover of a Beatles song ever to hit the market. In a way, it's a mini-catalog of some of the poppier styles of the British '60s scene, including American-style soul ("My Own Two Feet"); a Righteous Brothers near-imitation ("Movin' Away"); songs with obvious debts to the Bacharach-David school of composition; an obscure Gerry Goffin-Carole King cover ("The World I Used to Know"); and, weirdest of all, a detour into blues-rock that sounds like the early Rolling Stones trying to rewrite Chuck Berry's "Little Queenie" (on the 1963 B-side "Harlem Library"). At other points, there are echoes of the early-'60s Drifters, Phil Spector, Neil Diamond, and corny orchestrated pre-Beatles British pop/rock. And on the later sides, there's a growing measure of sophisticated soul, even laying on a tiny bit of bee-buzzing freaky psychedelic guitar on "Sweet Situation." What's it missing? Well, in a more conceptual sense, a strong musical identity: Lynch's voice is more versatile than distinctive, and though some of the songs are reasonably strong, none of them are really killer. In a specific collector-oriented sense, it by no means picks up all of his '60s output; the only other Lynch CD compilation, the probably unauthorized 31-track The Very Best of...Kenny Lynch, has 19 songs that don't appear on Nothing but the Real Thing. Still, Nothing but the Real Thing covers Lynch's 1965-1969 releases much more extensively (and also includes "Harlem Library," which The Very Best of...Kenny Lynch lacks). With better sound quality and good historical liner notes to boot, it's likely to remain the best Lynch compilation.

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