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All My Life

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Album Review

A few months after he suddenly found himself transformed from an unknown independent artist into a U.K. Top Ten star by the single "How Wonderful You Are," Gordon Haskell released this highlight compilation in an attempt to introduce his new fans to his extensive back catalog. All My Life spans a decade-long solo career, and it demonstrates that Haskell didn't always record in the barebones settings that made Harry's Bar and its monster hit, "How Wonderful You Are," so effective. Turns out Haskell used a lot of electric guitar and synthesizer in days gone by, with widely varying results. On "Hambledon Hill," Haskell exercises restraint and uses light electronic backing to add an air of mystery to the pretty melody. On "Mumbo Jumbo," he brews an intriguing new wave-tinted Afro-pop arrangement that sounds something like Billy Joel meets Juluka. But the title track is just about destroyed by a twinkly easy listening synth and sax backing. Haskell always straddles a fine line between inventive light jazz-folk and irredeemably gooey easy listening, but the rancid-sweet arrangements on tracks like "All My Life" and "Chilli Chilli" push him way over into the Muzak camp. Only "Please Don't Try to Talk to Me" and "Nothing in This World" apply the ice cool guitar-and-vocal Harry's Bar approach, and the result is that Haskell's fine vocals (which have improved tremendously with age thanks to their relaxed self-possession and compellingly textured husk) are often lost in the mix. This retrospective is a very mixed bag, but the good news is that the best seems yet to come.


Born: 27 April 1946 in Bournemouth, Dorset, England

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Gordon Haskell is usually thought of as a footnote in the history of King Crimson -- the only lead singer in the group's long list of personnel who never played a single live date with the band, though he was with them long enough to cut most of an album (Lizard) and get one performance ("Cadence and Cascade") onto its predecessor. Otherwise, he's been an enigma even to many Crimson fans. Haskell's history with Robert Fripp goes back to the days they spent together in the mid-'60s as members of...
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All My Life, Gordon Haskell
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