Spectrum Music, the British discount-priced reissue imprint of PolyGram, presents a 20-track condensation of Anthony Newley's recordings for Decca Records between 1959 and 1965 on The Very Best of Anthony Newley. Newley's career as a pop star came as something of a surprise following his success as a stage and film actor. It grew out of his portrayal of the Elvis Presley-like rock star Jeep Jackson in the film Idle on Parade; his first hit, "I've Waited So Long," was a song he sang in the picture. That tune turns up toward the end of the disc, but up front, skipping over the "Idle on Parade" EP, the album's first 11 tracks chronicle, in order, the rest of Newley's U.K. singles chart entries through 1962, starting with his Top Ten cover of Lloyd Price's "Personality." The rest include pop tunes like Lionel Bart's "Do You Mind?" (covered for the American market by Andy Williams), romantic ballads, and novelty songs like "Pop Goes the Weasel" that allowed Newley to show off his Cockney charm. By the ninth track, "What Kind of Fool Am I?," from the musical Stop the World -- I Want to Get Off, Newley is introducing his own compositions, co-written with Leslie Bricusse. (Oddly omitted is "Once in a Lifetime," the B-side of "What Kind of Fool Am I?" and another memorable song from the show.) These originals are as likely to be comic works as serious ones; however, in "The Noise," Newley even makes fun of "What Kind of Fool Am I?" and thus of himself. The rest of the disc includes B-sides of several of the hit singles and a few LP tracks, notably a cover of Rodgers & Hart's "You Are Too Beautiful." The result is a good, inexpensive sampler of Newley's most popular recordings from his brief career as a pop star, a nearly forgotten aspect of his overall work as singer, actor, and songwriter.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann