Rocket MCA 463
Released: November 1974
Chart Peak: #23
Weeks Charted: 62
Certified Gold: 11/11/75
This is the year for the return of veteran popsters, and while I wish we had been spared Paul Anka and Bobby Vinton, Neil Sedaka is welcome back any old time (and so are Del Shannon, Roy Orbison and Gene Pitney, who ought to come next). Sedaka's big hits between 1958 and 1963 were commercial, well-crafted records that stand up extremely well.
Today his singing has lost its shrill edge and sounds better than ever, the backing by L.A. session luminaries and 10 c.c. is tasteful, and he again proves himself a highly skilled, sophisticated songwriter, both lyrically and melodically.
- Ken Barnes, Rolling Stone, 1/2/75.
Neil Sedaka is just coming off his first American hit in eons, but apparently he was already having some success in England. This album, with its ardent endorsement by Elton John (who owns the Rocket label), is a collection of tracks from earlier Sedaka LP's released in Britain. I do not normally keep up with the doings of personalities like Neil Sedaka, Adlai Stevenson III, or Judy Garland's last husband. So I will take Elton's word that Sedaka has picked up his career where it fizzled out some time in the early Sixties. The baby-faced Mr. Sedaka still has his baby-face voice and prissy, cloying style. There is some skill evident in the construction of his songs (listed as being written by him and "Cody," otherwise unidentified), but whenever Sedaka the vocalist tries to be funky or meaningful he winds up being ludicrous.
Those who remember him as the bleater of teen laments may be shocked at "Little Brother," wherein he details a boy's efforts to get rid of his sibling first by sticking him in the oven and later by dropping him into the bears' cage at the zoo. Then there is "The Immigrant," about how the bad old U.S.A. has closed its doors to those seeking liberty. This is the cheap-shot kind of "social consciousness" hooey that well-dressed and comfortably employed entertainers like to throw out to show that they're Serious Artists and not mere vaudevillians.
Elton John, who derived some of his own style from Sedaka -- his records, like Neil's, are very well produced but invariably box-square and mechanical -- is thrilled by the resurrection of his hero on the hit charts. Others may be less so.
- Joel Vance, Stereo Review, 3/75.
In which a self-admitted mean old man approximates a cross between the young Paul Anka and the post-Bennington Reparata and the Delrons, only his voice is higher and his lyrics more considered. The whole first side, ending with the cheerfully perverse "Little Brother," is perfect pop moderne, and that's not where you'll find my own pick hit, the cheerfully normal "Love Will Keep Us Together." B+
- Robert Christgau, Christgau's Record Guide, 1981.
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