Joan Armatrading

The Very Best of Joan Armatrading [A&M]

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This German compilation of Joan Armatrading's best moments has all of the indisputable singles on it, but some of those choices, as to whether they were the very best of an artist who has always been more favored than understood is open to debate. Nonetheless, these 14 tracks do provide a fine introduction to Armatrading, who has slipped from the cultural radar screen -- at least in America -- since before the turn of the century. Along with obvious choices like "Love and Affection" (though it is a 1991 remix), "Down to Zero," "Drop the Pilot," "Show Some Emotion," "Willow," "Rosie," "The Weakness in Me," "All the Way From America," "More Than One Kind of Love" from 1990, and, of course, from 1983, "(I Love When You) Call Me Names," from the terminally misunderstood album The Key, produced by Steve Lillywhite. Thankfully the sequencing is not done chronologically, but according to Armatrading's own sense of taste and direction. It's powerful to hear "I'm Lucky" and then "Me Myself, & I," plus the Glyn Johns-produced 1978 single "Bottom to the Top," after "...Call Me Names" from 1983 and before "More Than One Kind of Love" from 1990. The remastering job is expert, and there are complete lyrics included in the package. There isn't anything long-time fans haven't heard before, but this makes for a fantastic road trip CD, and serves as an essential introduction for the neophyte.

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