WIN: 5 Copies of this CD are up for grabsSome folks like James Blunt's husky moping in large quantities. Others hate it. Some folks find David Gray profound. Others think he's just Dido for boys. Some love Daniel Powter, while others know that the only good song on the album is the big hit. Jet's very popular and pleasant, but they're a compilation in and of themselves.
The best feature of this compilation of love songs is that while most of the songs on it are not great, they're at least pretty good. And in this age of iPods, random shuttles and compilations, a good song is worth something even if the album it comes off isn't worth much, or the artist isn't to your taste. For some, an hour of James Blunt bleating on about his babes is unbearable. But "You're Beautiful" is an inescapably great song - catchy despite an unsingable melody, it captures a type of moment in life that everyone will recognise - that hopeless "stranger is my soulmate!" moment on a bus or in a street.
Some of the artists on this CD have real cred. Damien Rice's slightly indie "Cannonball" and David Gray's "The One I Love" make the cut. Alt-country star Ryan Adams, who contributes an awesome version of Oasis's classic "Wonderwall", and Fleetwood Mac's "Songbird" should top most lists. Some people have never heard of Ryan Adams, Fleetwood Mac, or Lou Reed, so it's mostly good when they get their names out there to a new audience - they're all essential listening.
Unfortunately, most of the established names seem to have thrown their worst work at this collection. Alanis's annoying vocal slides on "Hand in My Pocket" - pleasing though they may be to her fans - don't fit with the rest of the music on this CD. And since when was that a love song? Eric Clapton covers "Wonderful Tonight", that horrible wedding standard where the guy says nice things to a woman, then makes her drive him home because he's drunk and falls asleep on her. Surely that's nobody's idea of a fun date? Lou Reed contributes a horrible, cynical live version of "Perfect Day" to close the compilation.
Whatever you do, don't let the occasional awful recordings on this CD put you off wonderful artists. By the same token, don't let the good song choices in the beginning of the CD fool you into overestimating the talents of the chart toppers who perform them.
To wrap up: In an of itself, this is a decent themed compilation. At least five songs off it will appeal to any pop fan - and that's not bad going.
- Jean Barker
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