The Grass Roots

Symphonic Hits

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Okay, we know (and the packaging says it outright) that this disc is really Rob Grill, the longtime lead singer (and sole remaining member) of the Grassroots, backed by a band, an orchestra, and a string quartet. That said, it's not bad, assuming that one actually needs new, state-of-the-art digital recordings of the Grassroots' biggest hits. And you have to hand it to Grill for his endurance -- three and a half decades into his history with the group, he still has a good voice and sings these songs just about the same way that he did way back when. Indeed, he sings "Sooner or Later" here with the kind of passion and sincerity that would make one who didn't know any better believe that it's the first time he's doing it. The arrangements, in keeping with the title of the CD, tend to leave more open instrumental spaces as lead-ins to songs and on the breaks, as though this was partially a karaoke-type project -- "Heaven Knows," "Temptation Eyes," and even "Midnight Confessions" get this treatment, which sort of encourages the listener to at least hum along for the extra measures, and some of the songs, by the same token, also get extended fades that serve the same purpose. The sound is very "hot" -- all state-of-the-art digital -- and the producers have gone to great lengths to recreate the arrangements and texture of the group's classic '60s/'70s sides; on the plus side, they've resisted the temptation that usually manifests itself on releases like this to make the drum sound too close or hot. Of course, anyone who owns either Rhino's Grass Roots Anthology 1965-1975 or MCA's All-Time Greatest Hits will likely want to pass on this. Those discs would be preferable, but this release is no fake oldies rip-off, and it makes good advertising for Grill's current incarnation of the Grass Roots.

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