Covering all of his crucial eighties material, Spark to a Flame: The Very Best of Chris de Burgh offers up most of this songwriter's best work, while also including a few of his better pieces from early in his career. The decade took apt notice of de Burgh, giving him two Top 40 hits on Billboard with "Don't Pay the Ferryman" in 1983 and the hugely successful "Lady in Red" in 1987, which are both included on this set. Three of his most delightful narratives from the '70s show up here as well, with "Spanish Train," "A Spaceman Came Travelling," and "Patricia the Stripper," all from the highly regarded Spanish Train and Other Stories album. The asset of Spark to a Flame comes from the fact that de Burgh's best singles can be heard here without the other ho-hum material from their respective albums getting in the way. For example, songs like "Sailing Away"and "Say Goodbye to It All" add value to this compilation, as they were easily their parent album's best material. His most explosive tune, "High on Emotion" from 1984's Man on the Line album, is another welcomed addition, as is the refined fervor of "Ship to Shore" from The Getaway. Even though "Crusader" is nearly nine minutes in length, its addition to this compilation would have raised its stakes, as it's one of his best story songs. Although many of his amiable ballads and love songs from his early albums didn't make their way to this set, Spark to a Flame still stands as a suitable best-of. If owned, so should 1981's Best Moves for a greater cross-section of de Burgh's illustrious career.
AllMusic Review by Mike DeGagne