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3rd Force: Collective Force

The career point that merits a “greatest hits” collection is a subject of long-standing debate. The trio known as 3rd Force presents Collective Force (Higher Octave 72438 48855 2 6; 71:23) as its fifth release, stuffed with easygoing hit confections and a pair of previously unreleased tunes. The new releases are hit and miss-with soulful piano work cutting the keyboard sweetness of the bubbly “Dance With Me,” and the mid-tempo doldrums dragging out “Sweet Surrender” (which, sadly, is not a cover of Sarah McLachlan’s superior composition). The real magic here is in the retrospective, with tunes like the spacious, inventive “In the Full Moonlight” highlighting both first-class musicianship (Rick Braun’s snaking flugelhorn stands out) and craftsman-like pop melodic sensibility. Sparkling melodies shine through on complex, cinematic tunes (the haunted “Bridge of Dreams,” touched by cool slide guitar and fluid piano play) and fluffier pop pieces (“Coming Home”) alike, and go a long way to counteract the occasional syrupy yawner (“You Gotta Be Real,” “Listen to Your Heart”).

Originally Published