Just in time for Valentineís Day, Columbiaís Legacy label has released a two-disc collection of Ozzy Osbourne thatís perfect for those romantic, nostalgic headbanger evenings.
OK, maybe this isnít the most romantic set you could pick up for "love night," but perhaps itís a great antidote for any Valentineís Day overdoses of treacley schmaltz-pop. The Essential Ozzy Osbourne is now on the shelves with 29 tracks, including "Crazy Train," "Mr. Crowley," "Paranoid (Live with Randy Rhoads)," "Mama, Iím Coming Home," "No More Tears" and more.
Ozzy aside, the Legacy label is actually trying to dominate the Valentineís Day music market with its catalogue of balladcollections from a variety of artists, all released with the same title: Love Songs. The label released Frank Sinatra and Barbra Streisand Love Songs collections (among others) for Valentineís Day last year. This year the label now has more than two dozen titles available in the series, with a wide selection of new packages of old hits, including discs from Johnny Mathis, Toto, Loverboy, Ray Conniff, Tammy Wynette, Paul Young, The OíJays, Marvin Gaye and George Jones.
Johnny Mathisí Love Songs set opens with "The Twelfth of Never," and includes "My Funny Valentine," a previously unreleased cover of "Love is a Many-Splendored Thing," "You Are The Sunshine of My Life" and "You Light Up My Life" but strangely doesnít include his best known love song, "Chances Are."
The Paul Young Love Songs disc in large part duplicates his 1991 Columbia Singles Collection, including "Everytime You Go Away," "Come Back and Stay," "Donít Dream Itís Over," "Oh Girl," and more.
Despite their name, Loverboy wasnít known as a ballads band during their tenure on the charts in the Ď80s. So their Love Songs disc includes many tracks that didnít appear on their 1994 Greatest Hits set, and misses the rock hits like "Turn Me Loose" and "Working for the Weekend." Loverboyís Love Songs includes "This Could Be The Night," "Take Me To The Top," "Heaven In Your Eyes," "When Itís Over" and "Almost Paradise (Love Theme from Footloose)".
There have been several collections of Totoís best work, which dominated pop charts and adult contemporary radio in the Ď70s and Ď80s, and their Love Songs set includes most of their best known songs Ė from "Africa," and "Rosanna" to "99," "I Wonít Hold You Back," and "Without Your Love." The OíJays Love Songs set includes "Let Me Make Love to You," "Stairway to Heaven," "Now That We Found Love," "and a live version of "Wildflower." Marvin Gayeís release includes the ubiquitous "Sexual Healing," as well as "Just Like," "Walkiní In the Rain," "Rockiní After Midnight" and more.
Country crooning lovers will want George Jonesí Love Songs, which includes "A Picture of Me (Without You)," "Youíve Still Got A Place in My Heart, Iíll Take You To My World, "Love Lives Again" and "(What Love Can Do) the Second Time Around." Tammy Wynetteís set includes "Til I Get It Right," "Take Me To Your World," "Help Me Make It Through the Night," and of course "Stand By Your Man," but unsurprisingly, doesnít include one of her biggest hits, "D-I-V-O-R-C-E."
Ray Conniff and his orchestra hit the pop charts a handful of times in the Ď60s, but strangely none of those hits, with the exception of "Somewhere My Love" appear on his Love Songs disc. Instead, it includes Ď60s and Ď70s recordings of "Iím in the Mood For Love," "The Look of Love," "The Way You Look Tonight," "A Time for Us," "Love is a Many-Splendored Thing," "You Light Up My Life" and more.
On Solitary Road, singer-songwriter Kyle Vincent does his best to recreate in his new songs the warm, fuzzy vibes of early Ď70s pop balladry a la Air Supply, Barry Manilow, The Carpenters and David Cassidy, and is, for the most part, hugely successful. He even offers a picture perfect cover of Carol Kingís classic "Itís Too Late."
Vincentís emotive vocal style echoes the rich teen idol allure of latter day singers like David Cassidy and Davy Jones and more recent pop crooners like George Michael and Darren Hayes. Behind his gentle piano and guitar melodies, he arranges a Burt Bacharach stew of strings and background vocals that would have done Air Supply proud.
Vincent crafts the kind of blissfully syrupy love songs that used to play at proms as well as out of millions of tiny AM radio speakers 30 years ago (he even opens the album with a recording of himself as a child introducing a taped collection of 1973 hits). Sadly, the market for that kind of pop is more limited today, because Solitary Road is a gorgeous, heart-warming listen.
Not that Vincent hasnít had brushes with stardom with his retro sensibilities. In the early Ď90s he was signed to MCA and toured as the opener for Barry Manilow, though MCA never released a Vincent album. A debut album finally did appear in 1997; Kyle Vincent, was released via Hollywood Records and spawned a Top 40 hit in the handclapping "Wake Me Up (When the Worldís Worth Waking Up For)." Unaccountably, his next album didnít find a major label home, and 1999ís Wow & Flutter came out, like Solitary Road, on his own SongTree label. That second disc did manage some coverage on MTV, and hopefully, Solitary Road which finds an increasingly mellow and contemplative Vincent, will find an even wider audience.
"You Will Dance Again" is an uplifting piano-based ballad of overcoming lifeís obstacles, and "Everything" has the building tension of an old Cassidy ballad as Vincent bemoans that "everything has been done before" and that "while I go east the world goes west."
"I Sing For You" is a magical minstrel ballad of love and "Our Song" will overcome the listener with its dreamy "ahhhhs" and harpsichord strains. But the real standout here is a song Vincent wrote from the point of view of his late father apologizing for not being the best dad but asking his son to forget the bad and remember the good. The chorus is especially chilling to anyone who ever had a poor parental relationship as he sings: "remember me/for the one who tucked you in/and not the one who threw you out/remember me/for the quiet talks and not when I would scream and shout/the one who snuck a quarter under your pillow for a tooth/remember me/cause I still remember you."
Once again, Vincent has pulled together a strong collection of moving ballads that are both fresh, hummable and nostalgic. Long may he strum!
Check www.kylevincent.com to order or for more information.