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Paul Hardcastle: Cover To Cover

Mixmaster and keyboard wonder Paul Hardcastle offers his “musical autobiography” and a thought- provoking chronicle of changing musical styles on the double-disk Cover to Cover (JVC 2068: Disc 1-54:42; Disc 2-52:30). Hardcastle doesn’t limit himself to traditional “greatest hits” fare here, opting to include several out-of-print tracks, odd European and Asian-released remixes, and little-known artist preference chestnuts which will delight Hardcastle fans, in addition to the ripping dance music which made him famous. The Euro-techno dance period was clearly the richest for Hardcastle’s quirky creativity, evidenced on the tooth-rattling house jam “Rainforest,” and his most famous effort, the oddly stirring instrumental Vietnam chronicle “19.” Hardcastle includes other, less familiar wacky dance-floor-disco pieces as well, like “Are You Ready” and a bouncy cover of the pop instrumental classic “Green Onions,” which are also great fun. However, these inventive pieces also point up the shortcomings in Hardcastle’s newer material, crafted to go the smooth jazz route. Tracks like the remixed “Joker’s Wild,” fluttery “Walk in the Night” and hip-hop, slow-to-get-going “Urban Vibes” (the collection’s single brand new track) are self-conscious and derivative, especially when compared directly with the melodic, fun and endlessly creative Hardcastle we once enjoyed.

Originally Published