Cynics might point out the reality that greatest-hits packages on artists who have left a label are a ploy to milk the consumer, but the consumers care more about a solid package full of their favorite songs from the artist. The new Acoustic Alchemy (with Miles Gilderdale replacing the late founding guitarist, Nick Webb, as Greg Carmichael's partner) is riding high on Higher Octave Music, but the material on this collection -- part of a new GRP collection series -- will always be, to the true Acoustic Alchemy fan, the real deal. AA's post-Webb sound is fancy and feisty, extremely soulful, and very attractive. Yet, there's something more intimate about the way Carmichael and Webb interacted; theirs was a union of true musical soul mates. This wonderful 16-track collection from their GRP and earlier MCA "Master Series" projects was chosen and sequenced by their manager, Stewart Coxhead, and he smartly picks all the crowd favorites: "Mr. Chow," "Catalina Kiss," "Same Road, Same Reason," and more. The range from pop to Latin to reggae is fun to experience again. There's obviously a poignancy to all this because of Webb's 1998 death, but it's more important to celebrate the legacy. As syndicated radio host and Catalina Island Jazz Trax festival promoter Art Good says simply in his liner notes, "These are good songs." More importantly, they speak of an innocent time, the early days of smooth jazz when even the gentlest of these could become radio hits.
AllMusic Review by Jonathan Widran