Johnny Maestro

The Best of Johnny Maestro: 1958-1985

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Covering the highlights of his three-decade career, Shout! Factory's The Best of Johnny Maestro (1958-1985) features his biggest hits with the Crests, his early-'60s solo career, and his work with Brooklyn Bridge. Obviously, this set doesn't go into as much depth as Collectables' four-disc The Very Best of Johnny Maestro collection, but tracks like "16 Candles," "Step by Step," and "Trouble in Paradise" are welcome reminders of how adept the Crests were at both doo wop ballads and cheery pop songs. "Model Girl" and Maestro's other solo tracks here carry on in the tradition of the Crests' sweet, bouncy numbers like "Step by Step," albeit with a fraction less personality. Meanwhile, the Brooklyn Bridge cuts are the most eclectic, which makes sense considering they're an 11-piece outfit with a career spanning several decades. The a cappella tracks from the group's aptly named 1985 album Acappella show that Maestro's voice had barely aged since his "16 Candles" days and, arguably, could be more appealing to fans of his early work than the funk and rock-inspired forays the band took in the '70s. The group's Jimmy Webb-penned hit, "The Worst That Could Happen," as well as "Blessed Is the Rain" and "You'll Never Walk Alone," show a heavy 5th Dimension influence -- which also makes sense, since they were one of the most prominent vocal pop acts in the late '60s and also had a big hit with Webb's "Up, Up and Away." Bill Dahl's informative and engaging liner notes shed light on how the Crests' racially integrated lineup -- one of the things that made them unique -- also led to their implosion when their record label felt it limited the band's exposure, and Dahl also celebrates Brooklyn Bridge's longevity. All in all, the collection manages to be thorough and concise, and puts Maestro's career in context.

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