Conductor, composer, violinist, and pianist Mantovani was one of the most popular and prolific easy listening artists of all time. His trademark "cascading strings" (or "tumbling strings") effect gave him an instantly recognizable sound, and his heavy reliance on the string section in general helped map out the blueprint for much of the light orchestral music that followed in his wake. His repertoire did feature original compositions, but was built chiefly on lush adaptations of familiar melodies: TV and movie themes, show tunes, pop hits (chiefly of the MOR variety), classical material, and the like. Starting his career in the '20s, Mantovani was very much a product of the recording age: he focused almost entirely on recording, instead of live performance; he was one of the first artists to utilize the LP as a primary medium for his releases (as opposed to singles); he was one of the first popular artists to use stereo recording technology, and likely the first to sell over a million records in the stereo format. Fascinated by the studio recording process, he experimented restlessly with miking methods and other technical nuances over the course of an astoundingly large discography – more than 50 albums from the early '50s until his death in 1980 (not counting his numerous 78 rpm records, dating back to the late '20s).
Rhino's 2001 retrospective The Very Best of Miki Howard is a generous, near-definitive overview of Howard's biggest R&B hits from the '80s. She didn't have many crossover hits, but she did have numerous entries on the R&B charts, all of which are here, including a duet with Gerald Levert, "That's What Love Is." Although this is a little lengthy for listeners with abbreviated attention spans, it does summarize Howard's peak very well, and is as comprehensive a Howard retrospective as could be hoped for.
Tom Jones became one of the most popular vocalists to emerge from the British Invasion. Since the mid-'60s, Jones has sung nearly every form of popular music – pop, rock, show tunes, country, dance, and techno, he's sung it all. His actual style – a full-throated, robust baritone that had little regard for nuance and subtlety – never changed, he just sang over different backing tracks. On-stage, Jones played up his sexual appeal; it didn't matter whether he was in an unbuttoned shirt or a tuxedo, he always radiated a raw sexuality that earned him a large following of devoted female fans who frequently threw underwear on-stage. Jones' following never diminished over the decades; he was able to exploit trends, earning new fans while retaining his core following.
Nick Cave is a singular figure in contemporary rock music; he first emerged as punk rock was making its presence known in Australia, but though he's never surrendered his status as a provocateur and a musical outlaw, he quickly abandoned the simplicity of punk for something grander and more literate, though no less punishing in its outlook…
The Kooks are gearing up to celebrate the fact that they’ve been a band for more than 10 years, announcing today that they will be releasing a collection of their greatest hits this May. Titled The Best of… So Far, it’s clear that this compilation is meant more as mile-marker than destination, an idea backed up by singer Luke Pritchard, who stated in a press release, “It’s been the greatest pleasure to work, travel, fight, hate and love the best and most talented people I’ve met in my life. It’s the greatest job in the world and we don’t intend to stop any time soon.”