Paul McCartney produced this debut album of twee but pretty, romantic pop-folk. Besides "Those Were the Days" (which actually originally appeared only on the US version, though it's on the CD reissue now available throughout the world), the highlights are Donovan's "Lord of the Reedy River" and "The Honeymoon Song," which McCartney himself had sung with the Beatles way back in 1963 on the BBC. If there's a fault to be found, it's that there's too high a percentage of pre-rock/pop standards à la "There's No Business Like Show Business." As it turns out this was more due to the leanings of McCartney than Hopkin, who preferred the more simply arranged folk numbers such as the Donovan covers and the Welsh "Y Blodyn Gwyn." Also on board is a rather nice composition, "The Game," by Beatles producer George Martin, who contributed some piano and orchestra conducting to the album. The CD reissue includes George Gershwin/Ira Gershwin's "Someone to Watch Over Me" (which was on the original U.K. version of the LP, but was taken off the American counterpart), as well as the "Those Were the Days" B-side "Turn! Turn! Turn!" and versions of "Those Were the Days" that Hopkin sang in Italian and Spanish.
At ten CDs and 200 tracks, this survey of 1970s pop features 20 songs from each year between 1970 and 1979.
Polydor/Universal’s The Face: The Very Best Of Visage collects 15 tracks from the early-'80s synth pop supergroup (featuring members of Magazine, Ultravox, and The Rich Kids), including four versions of their international smash, "Fade to Grey." Longtime listeners who picked up 1993’s Fade to Grey: The Singles Collection will find much of the same here (minus fan favorite “Beat Boy”), but the remixes – which range from excellent (“Fade to Grey" [Michael Gray Mix 2009]) to just passable (“Fade to Grey" [Lee Mortimer Remix 2009]) – and the ultra-hot, club-ready mastering job should entice those who have yet to add these over the top electro-pop legends to their MP3 collections.
Gary Lucas – charmingly oddball pop songwriter, musical world traveler, utterly hellacious guitarist – is perhaps at his most hellaciously, charmingly cosmopolitan on this frankly amazing album, which finds him adapting popular Chinese songs that were originally recorded in the 1960s and which he heard and fell in love with during a sojourn in Taiwan in the mid-'70s. His girlfriend at the time had a cassette tape of such local superstars as Chow Hsuan and Bai Kwong, and it was, he says in his liner notes, "like almost no other music I had ever heard before." Twenty-five years later he put together this quirkily gorgeous tribute, which includes jaw-droppingly virtuosic fingerstyle guitar arrangements ("Mad World," "Wall") and song settings using guest vocalists. Among the best of the latter are the limpidly beautiful "Night in Shanghai" (again, note the guitar playing) and the country-flavored "I Wait for Your Return," which is simply a hoot. He's not playing this stuff for laughs, though; his genuine affection for the music comes through loud and clear, and even when he has fun with it he is obviously trying to do so in a way that brings its haunting loveliness to the fore. Very highly recommended.
One of China's biggest pop stars of the late 20th century, Sandy Lam rose to fame in the 1980s as a Cantopop singer before expanding her fan base significantly in the 1990s with stylistically diverse albums in Mandarin, Japanese, and English.
Rick Derringer tried a variety of different things in the 1980s, '90s, and 2000s. The singer/guitarist recorded his share of middle of the road pop/rock and adult contemporary albums, and he even recorded an instrumental jazz-pop/smooth jazz album that had George Benson-ish leanings (2002's Free Ride). But Derringer, who turned 61 in 2008, has a way of going back to blues-rock and hard rock – which is exactly what he does on Knighted by the Blues. Granted, this 2009 release wasn't recorded with blues purists in mind; not everything on Knighted by the Blues adheres to the traditional 12-bar format. But the feeling of the blues is quite strong throughout this 51-minute CD; that feeling is as strong on Derringer's own songs as it is on enjoyable performances of Jimi Hendrix's "If 6 Was Nine" and Ray Charles' "Funny, I Still Love You."