The Best of the EMI Years

by: Craig Douglas

As a representation of Craig Douglas' overall output, this 32-song CD is hard to beat -- all of the U.K. chart hits, along with the better B-sides, movie songs, and album tracks, and the notes include Douglas' comments and reminiscences about each. Anyone seeking to check out early English rock & roll should approach this CD with caution, however -- despite Douglas' appearance in the jukebox classic It's Trad, Dad, and the presence of "Dream Lover," "A Teenager in Love," and "The Battle of New Orleans" on this disc -- because Douglas is not really a rock & roll singer. He has a very pleasing, unchallenging voice, but his delivery is really too straight for rock. He's a teen pop crooner, and his renditions are pure pop, but attractive in a soft Ricky Nelson or sub-Cliff Richard manner, and there is just enough electric guitar on some of it that oldies fans will not feel like they've stepped entirely out of the rock & roll dimension. And some of the pop sides are gorgeous: "Pretty Blue Eyes" (co-authored by Teddy Randazzo, "A Change of Heart" (co-written by Norrie Paramor), "Time," and "A Hundred Pounds of Clay" are songs that one just wants to luxuriate in -- guilty pleasure of the teen-pop era in the best Brill Building tradition -- and the latter also boasts one of Douglas' most impressive performances. The disc includes both the original, "uncensored" lyrics and the version preferred by the BBC. And, lo and behold, in the midst of the later pop sides are a pair of nicely paced pop-rock numbers -- "Ring-A-Ding" from the movie It's Trad, Dad and "Our Favorite Melodies" -- each with a good beat and catchy choruses. The sound is excellent. ~ Bruce Eder

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