Razor & Tie's 18-track New Looks and Old Fashioned Love: The Best of BJ Thomas concentrates on BJ Thomas' country-pop work for Columbia and Cleveland International Records in the '80s. Not every hit he had during this era is here but all the big hits are: "Whatever Happened to Old Fashioned Love," "New Looks From an Old Lover," "Two Car Garage," "The Whole World's in Love When You're Lonely," "The Girl Most Likely To," and "Night Life." The first half of the disc eases on by on its slick commercialism -- which is a compliment. This is well-constructed, contemporary country-pop, melodic and polished tunes about modern concerns. They do sound a little dated, thanks to the synths and production techniques, but they're entertaining, unabashedly commercial period pieces from the early '80s. The second half of the record draws heavily from Thomas' 1986 covers album Night Life, which may have been more straight-ahead than its immediate predecessors, yet the production was too sterile (the drums are entirely too big) to give it the country grit it needs. Still, these covers lend credence to Thomas' skills as an interpretative singer, and they help make this a strong retrospective of the third act of his career. The last song -- "As Long as We Got Each Other (Theme from Growing Pains)," which happens to be a duet with Dusty Springfield -- doesn't really fit the rest of the collection, aside from the fact that it was also cut in the '80s, but it's enjoyable and it's nice to have it included on a hits compilation.
The Best of B.J. Thomas: New Looks and Old Fashioned Love Review
by Stephen Thomas Erlewine