Top positive review
78 people found this helpful
An Excellent Howard Jones Compilation
on April 18, 2005
When the name Howard Jones comes up, many people immediately will associate two terms with him: 1) Synth-Pop; 2) Keyboards. These terms are completely justified because this is essentially what makes up the core of Howard Jones' music. But one thing that isn't fair is to lump Howard with many of the other Synth-Pop artists of the 1980s. Howard's music might have been very much in the 80s mold, but his music would also provide some terrific lyrics. It's also worth noting that Howard's music isn't all keyboards. Howard has been known to integrate horns into his music - and at times takes on the piano instead of the Synthesizer (this was especially evident on his 1992 effort, "In the Running". All of these features are evident in Howard Jones' compilation "The Best of Howard Jones". This collection contains 18 songs (17 'hits' plus 1 new release) and covers material from Howard's peak of popularity - 1983 through 1993.
Five of Howard's albums are represented on this collection: "Human's Lib" ("What is Love?", "Pearl in a Shell", "New Song", "Hide and Seek"); "Dream Into Action" ("Things Can Only Get Better", "Life in One Day", "No One is to Blame", "Look Mama", "Like to Get to Know You Well"); "One to One" ("You Know I Love You.. Don't You", "No One is to Blame" - also found on this collection); "Cross that Line" ("The Prisoner", "Everlasting Love"); and "In the Running" ("Lift Me Up", "Tears to Tell", "Two Souls", "City Song"). Finally, Howard includes a new release that is unique to this collection - a cover of Donald Fagen's classic "I.G.Y". This was a song that Howard loved to perform live, so he does it justice by including it on this collection.
There are other Howard Jones compilations that are available. In addition to "The Best of Howard Jones", there are three other main compilations to consider:
- "The Essentials": This is a 2002 release that contains 12 songs. All 12 songs on this particular collection are found on "The Best of Howard Jones".
- "Greatest Hits": For the most part, this particular collection covers the same period as "The Best of Howard Jones". This was also released in 2002. It contains only 10 songs - of which 8 are found on "The Best of Howard Jones". This collection also contains the song "All I Want" that was on Howard's 1986 album "One to One". It also contains a song from the post "The Best of Howard Jones" period - "Let the People Have their Say" (from 1998's "People" album).
- "The Very Best of Howard Jones": This is a 2 CD set that was released in 2003.. The second CD actually contains 18 "B" side songs (including 2 unreleased songs). The first CD also contains 18 songs. It contains the songs "Blue" (from "Working in the Backroom"); "Let the People Have their Say" and "Someone You Need" (from "People"); "Tomorrow is Now" (from "Pefawm"); and a new song - "Revolution of the Heart". Most notably missing from this particular ("The Very Best..") collection that are found on "The Best of Howard Jones" are "Pearl in a Shell", "Look Mama", and "Tears to Tell". Also missing is "I.G.Y." The nice thing about "The Best of Howard Jones" vs. "The Very Best of Howard Jones" is that there are songs that not found on the other collection. This makes both collections desirable.
With greatest hits collections, I usually prefer the songs to be ordered chronologically. This allows me to see how the artist has progressed over time. In a general sense - looking at this collection from a high level, "The Best of Howard Jones" does this - but it's not perfect. For example, I'm not sure why "Hide and Seek" is included with the songs from "Dream Into Action". The new song "I.G.Y" should really have been the last song - instead it is sandwiched with the songs from "In the Running". It wouldn't have taken much of an effort to fix this and make the ordering in a time-ordered sequence.
I think one thing that Howard Jones deserves credit for is changing with the times. As the 1980s progressed, Synth-Pop suddenly was disappearing from the music scene. Howard was able to make the appropriate adjustments. If you listen to the music from his 1992 album - "In the Running", you will notice a change to a more "mature" style of music. Howard is even able to incorporate some piano into his music. As mentioned above, there is a general sense for how Howard has progressed over time. Therefore, even though the songs aren't ordered 100%, this collection still will give you a feel for how Howard's style matured over time. I think it is this mature style that really helped him pull off the cover of Donald Fagen's "I.G.Y.". Howard's cover of it does complete justice to the original by Fagen. Howard's vocals show a terrific crooning style. In addition, the use of horns in "I.G.Y" is nothing new to Howard - we've heard the use of horns in some of his earlier work such as "Things Can Only Get Better" and even on "Pearl in a Shell".
The liner notes do not contain any of the lyrics (with Greatest Hits albums, this is typically the case). They do list each of the 18 tracks contained on the collection - along with the songwriting and producer credits. Although the copyright dates are included, I am disappointed that the corresponding albums for which each of the songs are contained on aren't included. There is a terrific 3-page writeup on Howard's career. I am a bit disappointed the musician credits aren't listed for each song - in particular for the new song "I.G.Y.". Despite the larger collection, "The Very Best of Howard Jones" - I feel this collection still has value (at the time of this writing). For the new fans looking to discover Howard, I'd highly recommend this collection.