The Definitive Collection

by: Neil Sedaka

From all appearances, Razor & Tie's 2007 compilation The Definitive Collection surely seems to live up to its title. It weighs in at 22 tracks and the back cover claims that it is a "celebration of Neil Sedaka's 50 years making music, from his first recordings in 1957 to his most recent work. The first career-spanning collection of its kind." Well, that's true to a certain extent -- it is the first to attempt to survey everything Sedaka's done from 1957 to 2007, so in that sense it is a first, and it's also a celebration since it has his biggest songs, from "Breaking Up Is Hard to Do" through "Bad Blood." However, it doesn't have the original versions of these songs from the '50s and '60s: it has re-recordings from 1991. They're hardly terrible recordings -- Sedaka is in good voice, thankfully -- but they're still a little stiff and overly polished, not as effective as the originals and they're certainly a disappointment for anybody who purchases The Definitive Collection believing they're going to get a Sedaka disc with all of the original hits. But for those who realize this Definitive Collection is a combination of re-recordings and originals, and do not care that his earliest and biggest songs are present in latter-day versions, this isn't a bad disc, since it does have all of his biggest songs and it does have good notes by Gene Sculatti. And for hardcore fans, there is a couple of enticements: demos of "Where the Boys Are" and "It Hurts to Be in Love," plus "What a Surprise" and "Junkie for Your Love" making their CD debut. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

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