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Now and Then

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Album Review

So is Chris de Burgh all about soft rock and schmaltzy ballads like "Missing You" and "The Lady in Red," or is there something more to his music? Admittedly, his two biggest hit singles (and only Top Ten singles) are placed at tracks two and three on this album, Now and Then, a 2008 compilation of his work through the ages, but the true statement of intent regarding what the man is really about arrives with the opening track, "Don't Pay the Ferryman," his first ever hit that didn't even reach the Top 40 but has become a standard art rock classic that possibly graces adult radio in the 21st century more often than his bigger successes. However, no fewer than 11 of the 20 tracks here were on his previously most successful greatest-hits compilation, Spark to a Flame, and Now and Then was — as usually seemed to be the case with de Burgh compilations — very under-represented with tracks from his early career. Indeed, from his first six albums of the 1970s and early '80s before his chart breakthrough, there were only two tracks in total, "A Spaceman Came Travelling" from Spanish Train & Other Stories (included presumably because it had become such a Christmas standard) and the final track, "High on Emotion" from Man on the Line, and nothing at all from Far Beyond These Castle Walls, At the End of a Perfect Day, Crusader, or Eastern Wind. This was a shame, for surely there was a market for people to buy a collection of Chris de Burgh songs beyond the well-worn more famous and overworked ones from the late '80s — although in fairness, this approach had already been covered by A&M on the compilation Best Moves, a long-forgotten gem from 1981, and on the long-deleted Telstar TV album The Very Best Of from 1984. Long since regarded more as a serious album artist, de Burgh had not had an entry in the singles chart in the 21st century up to the release of Now and Then, and had indeed become somewhat of an experimental rock act, as he showed on his previous studio album to this, The Storyman, and this side of de Burgh is given space in the shape of "Much More Than This," "One World," "Sailing Away," and "Borderline," songs that either tell a story or actually mean something. One can't help feeling that with so much material already out there, this was a missed opportunity by UMTV, a mainstream TV advertising company, but their raison d’être was to sell lots of CDs, not educate the masses about an artist whose main body of work remains mostly overlooked.


Born: 15 October 1948 in Argentina

Genre: Pop

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

An art rocker who occasionally writes pop-oriented material, Chris de Burgh has never been as popular in his native Britain or the United States as he was in other areas of the world. In America, he's only managed two Top 40 hits -- 1983's "Don't Pay the Ferryman" (number 34) and the number three ballad "The Lady in Red" (1986). In Britain, he's had the same number of Top 40 singles -- "The Lady in Red" was a number one hit and "Missing You" peaked at number three -- yet he's had a number of minor...
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