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Bobby Caldwell - Topic
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Bobby Caldwell - Topic

Perfect Island Nights (Sin-Drome) Play

The veteran blue-eyed soul singer has been busy since 1995 (the year he released his last literal pop album, Soul Survivor), recording albums of standards along with his Frank Sinatra and Bobby Darin-styled soundtrack work and counting the royalties from the 100 or so covers or samples of his best-known hit, "What You Won't Do for Love" -- so preoccupied, in fact, that's it's been easy to forget just how skilled he is at delivering easygoing romantic pop, whether it's funky and percussive (as on the brassy, bouncy "Call Me Up"), perfect for Latin salsa dancing (the balmy "Donna"), or simply laid-back and moonlit (the title track). Caldwell is at the top of his charming game on this modern adult contemporary classic, not mining any truly original territory lyrically but wringing every last emotion out of his originals (the power ballads "Extra Mile" and "Crazy for Your Love" are standouts) and a handful of well-chosen covers. None of his classic pop choices come close to his renditions of "Beyond the Sea" or "Luck Be a Lady," but he finds all the passion necessary on a loping take of "Sukiyaki (Forever)" (he provides sweet new English lyrics), the bright samba arrangement of "Our Day Will Come," and the masterfully soulful "Where Is the Love," which finds him perfectly paired with Deniece Williams. The colorful back cover shows a contented Caldwell, arms crossed, in his trademark blue slouch hat, sound asleep. Maybe his long-awaited pop comeback exhausted him, but it will energize fans longing for his return to form. ~ Jonathan Widran, Rovi

Blue Condition Play

It's a tribute to Bobby Caldwell's consummate songwriting skills that his three original compositions -- including the previously recorded, melancholy would-be classic "Stuck on You" -- fit in perfectly alongside standards by the likes of Cole Porter and Sammy Cahn/Jimmy Van Heusen on the very tradition-minded Blue Condition. Best known for easygoing R&B-flavored adult pop vocals, Caldwell reaches back and superimposes himself in front of lively big-band arrangements that recall classic Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett and Bobby Darin recordings. He never approaches those idols in terms of vocal distinction, but that doesn't seem to be his point. He's more reflecting upon his inspirations than trying to emulate them, rewarding longtime fans with the sort of artistry they suspected might exist all along. The uninitiated, however, might enjoy all the surrounding pleasantries and wonder why we need another guy out there doing classics when he clearly doesn't measure up to those standards vocally. ~ Jonathan Widran, Rovi

Stuck on You Play

Pro forma urban contemporary material, with a trace of hip-hop influence and some fusion and light jazz elements. Bobby Caldwell is an excellent session musician whose albums have grown more faceless and generic over the years. ~ Ron Wynn, Rovi

Carry On Play

An instrumental pop workout by Caldwell, who plays guitar, keyboards and synthesizers, bass, and drums, does the production and arrangements, handles all the vocals, and even assists with the mixing and arranging. There's minimal jazz content, but some songs have nice melodies and were designed for Urban Contemporary audiences. ~ Ron Wynn, Rovi

Cat in the Hat Play

Blue-eyed soul artist Bobby Caldwell's follow-up to his successful solo debut album which featured the often-covered hit "What You Won't Do for Love," Cat in the Hat showcases his sophisticated songwriting and soulful vocals. Though not as commercially successful as his debut, Cat In the Hat is no sophomore slump artistically. In fact, there's not a bad song in the bunch. ~ Tim Griggs, Rovi

What You Won't Do for Love Play

Bobby Caldwell is one of only a handful of white vocalists (Van Morrison and Simply Red's Mick Hucknall, to name a couple more) who legitimately transcended the blue-eyed soul tag. Caldwell's genuine mix of R&B and jazz signatures as well as his bittersweet yet buttery vocal tones conjure up images of a smoothed-out version of Chet Baker. On this, his breakthrough album, the native New Yorker scored a hit with the timeless "What You Won't Do for Love" and also polished off another near-classic on "My Flame." While a few of the compositions echo the dying grip of disco and some of Caldwell's vocal arrangements sound more like a hipper version of Tony Bennett ("Can't Say Goodbye"), the crooner does possess the pipes to carry the offering. Caldwell even tries his hand at the experimental on the short but sweet instrumental "Kalimba Song." Time will likely render much of Bobby Caldwell disposable, but at the album's best, the songs do carry a singular sound and contain the power to place themselves in a time period, which may just be good enough for lovers. The cut "What You Won't Do for Love" will always stack up, as even hip-hop producers saw fit to sample the horn riff and bass track a number of times (listen to 2Pac's "Do for Love," for one). ~ M.F. DiBella, Rovi
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