Paul Carrack

Twenty-One Good Reasons: The Paul Carrack Collection

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A nifty idea for a compilation, Twenty-One Good Reasons: The Paul Carrack Collection gathers not only Carrack's solo hits, but all the major songs by other artists on which he sang lead: Ace's Top Five smash "How Long," Squeeze's new wave classic "Tempted," Mike + the Mechanics' "Silent Running" and the number one ballad "The Living Years," and two duets with country singer Carlene Carter from her 1981 album Blue Nun. As such, it's the definitive overview of Carrack's career. If you're a somewhat anonymous journeyman, you don't stick around as long as Carrack has, or participate in so many different projects, without demonstrating your versatility. Carrack shows himself to be comfortable with bright, bouncy pop, post-new wave roots rock, smooth adult contemporary, and sentimental ballads. But his true forte is the sort of blue-eyed soul that became popular in the post-Hall & Oates era. His clear, soulful pipes are already in evidence on the four selections culled from his tenure with Ace, which bridges into the Squeeze and Carter songs, and then into 12 selections culled from his solo albums. There are a couple of fine Nick Lowe co-writes in "I Live on a Battlefield" and the early hit "I Need You," plus a fine cover of Jackie DeShannon's folk-rock classic "When You Walk in the Room." The high point is Carrack's terrific 1988 Top Ten hit "Don't Shed a Tear," a catchy, modern blue-eyed soul track that fit comfortably into Top 40, adult contemporary, and mainstream rock radio, and even landed him some MTV airplay. Even if Carrack's production is far more synthetic than one usually associates with the term "soul," he proves himself quite a solid stylist over the course of this surprisingly ingratiating collection.

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