Paul Hardcastle – Very Best Of… 1983-2003

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Album Review by EDF

On his 1984 BORN IN THE USA album, Bruce Springsteen sang, “we learned more from a three minute record, than we ever did at school”. This fact became true when Paul Hardcastle released his first and only number one single to date, 19. Lately he seems to have vanished from sight but unknown to the general public, Paul Hardcastle has been hard, pardon the pun, at it and this double CD collection proves that 19 was not the only style available in his bag of tricks.

Finding himself weaving in and out of several bands in the early 1980’s, Hardcastle set up his Total Control label in ’84 and released his first single, a remake of the D Train classic YOU’RE THE ONE FOR ME – DAYBREAK – AM. Just missing the Top 40 with his first two singles, his third offering was the instrumental RAIN FOREST, which was featured in a hip-hop movie. 19 was released late April ’85 and is represented here by three versions. It reached number one in the UK charts and number fifteen in the US, but not before the hit was prevented from being released by a US broadcaster who then relented to pressure from US vets for the single’s release. Hardcastle had to wait nearly a year before he reached the UK Top Ten again with vocalist Carol Kenyon on the funky, soulful DON’T WASTE MY TIME. Late in ’86, another instrumental THE WIZARD was picked up as the new theme tune for the Top Of The Pops programme and later THE VOYAGE was adopted for the BBC Holiday programme.

SWING shows off Hardcastle’s skill with samples on this MARRS like track. There are interesting covers featured such as a slowed down, jazz version of Steely Dan’s DO IT AGAIN or an even better than the original of America’s VENTURA HIGHWAY. There are a number of wine bar type tracks featured such as BIRD ISLAND and LOST IN SPACE. Found mostly on the second disc, this is when, more often than not, you will have to reach for the remote control. Alternatively, we have the soulful YOU MAY BE GONE, RUNNIN’ BACK, the jazz-funk flavoured cover of Pink Floyd’s MONEY, GOT TO BE LOVE and the funky JOKERS WILD.

Overall this is an impressive collection showcasing the skills of a keyboard wiz. While the first disc is varied and enjoyable the second disc is let down by a few too many similar sounding instrumentals but it does come to life by the vocal led tunes.

4 stars