Rick Astley / The Greatest Hits

The Greatest Hits

Richard Paul “Rick” Astley (pronounced /ˈrɪk ˈæstli/; born 6 February 1966) is a BRIT Award-winning English singer-songwriter, musician, and radio personality. He is known for his 1987 song, “Never Gonna Give You Up“, which was a #1 hit single in 25 countries.[1] Astley holds the record for being the only male solo artist to have his first 8 singles reach the Top 10 in the UK[2] and by retirement in 1993 had sold approximately 40 million records worldwide.[3][4][5]

After retiring from the music industry in 1993, Astley made a comeback in 2007 when he became an Internet phenomenon, as his video for “Never Gonna Give You Up” became part of a popular Internet meme known as “Rickrolling“.[6] Astley was voted “Best Act Ever” by Internet users at the MTV Europe Music Awards 2008.

The Analysis:

Never Gonna Give You Up—-Released in 1987, this was a bona fide worldwide smash for Astley. Although many people only associate him with this song, there was lots and lots of material that came after this…despite being largely ignored in the US…fickle music listeners we are, Astley continued to secure chart singles years after this release. This song still sounds fresh and exciting after not visiting it for such a long period of time…I am still amazed that this huge soul driven based voice comes out of this little red-haired guy. Produced with a great synth line melody and a chorus that is catchy as hell, this is still a hit in my book.

It Would Take A Strong Strong Man—-Taking the whole Blue-eyed soul idea to a whole other level, this is a classic track that never gained much attention in this country. Astley delivers his deep baritone over a nice synth line peppered with horns and a chorus that will stick in your brain for days after hearing this. Proving to anyone who would listen that he was more than a one-hit wonder, this only proves to me that Astley never got the full attention he deserved.

She Wants To Dance With Me—-This was a minor hit in the US, but managed to score much more overseas. This is perhaps even more Dance laden than Never Gonna Let You Go. The lyrics are fairly simple and a bit juvenile as is the synth line, but the song contains a level of contagion that you just can’t ignore. This is so nice to hear again….a favorite of mine just because of the contagious energy!

Whenever You Need Somebody—-This has a remarkable synth line that does not differ too much from the lead off single on this compilation. The song shifts gears a bit and becomes much more bass driven as it progresses and leaves you with another dance floor classic that has a remarkably contagious hook and melody line. This is fabulous!

Move Right Out—-This is moody and full of a gentle synth line that is built for late night cool down sessions. Astley sings in a tone that is a bit different…the tone seems to be a bit higher pitched and he is joined on the chorus by a choir of diva like voices that add to the ‘gayness’ of the whole song. this is layered and full of the necessary emotion…not sure you would call it a hit though.

Giving Up On Love—-This has a remarkable similarity to one song or the other…can’t quite place it at the moment. This is another of those songs that is full of an underlying Motown song complete with the bevy of female backdrop singers to add to the soulfulness of the track. The synth is there, but you recognize the ‘real’ instrumentation more than anything else on this song. Astley delivers a wonderful vocal…still wondering why America was so quick to abandon this artist.

Together Forever—-This was a fairly popular track for Astley all over the World…the US included…coming off the success of Never Gonna Give You Up. This has one of the most contagious synth lines I have ever heard…as well as a bass line that is incredible. This does not differ much from the recipe that Astley followed in the early days. The melody is fantastic and the chorus is so damn contagious you will be humming this for days. Love this stuff!!!

Take Me To Your Heart—-This is typical and rather predictable. I love the vocal on this track though…Astley always seems to deliver his deep voice in such an effortless manner. This is so nice…not to be confused with the Taylor Dayne smash, this is just as soulful though. I remain impressed and at the same time perplexed as to why this man’s career was cut so short in the US?

My Arms Keep Missing You—-This has some really nice synth bass at the onset…House inspired and full of energy. This reminds me of the 90’s right away!!! This has that whole C+C Music Factory vibe….Astley is again joined on his vocal with other female singers…giving the song an even more soul inspired feel. this is a huge House anthem that still plays really well today. This is Dance Party material!

Ain’t Too Proud To Beg—-It only seems appropriate that Astley would cover this Soul classic…and he does a pretty damn good job in the process. The guitar lines that run through the song give this a nice Rn’B feel….and Astley has a voice that was just screaming for this song. The soul elements are right up this guy’s alley….this is a classic cover.

Hopelessly—-This is one of those songs where Astley really shines…the occassional ballad that Astley issued allowed him to really showcase his vocal without all of the added synth or heavy bass beats…this only proves to me even further that this guy can really sing….he gives the song his own vocal twist…adding some nice falsetto stirrings that you would not expect…the remarkable thing is how he can get emotion across with just the aid of his vocal…this is a wonderful song.

When You Gonna [featuring Lisa]—-This is another track that screams of the 90’s house movement that was going on in this Country and Worldwide. This is energetic and synth laden with enough breaks to be a remix without even being labelled as such. This has nice vocal manipulations and dance energy to set a floor on fire…remarkable and timeless.

Never Knew Love—-Featuring some really great horns and enough bass to keep you dancing, Astley enters with his vocal and delivers a song that produces enough euphoria to allow you to lose control on the dance floor without embarassment…it is a universal feeling. This is fun and catchy as hell…you can’t deny this mans talent!!!

Hold Me In Your Arms—-A bit more sedate and full of the type of music you would expect to find on late 70’s AM radio, Astley enters with a somber and touching vocal and lyric that will touch your heart and emotion. This has a nice chorus that is pretty damn catchy and a gentle instrumentation that sucks you right into the feel of the song…careful, you might get a bit sad!

When I Fall In Love—-Astley covers this standard with a remarkable grace and beauty that is really breathtaking. Astley barely sounds like himself…delivering his vocal with a soulful delivery that is beyond compare. This is magnificent…he should do more of this self…taking into account of the popularity of such classics being covered in the past few years…this is really incredible!

Cry For Help—-This has always been my favorite Astley single…the way he phrases his words and the gentle melancholy of the song literally takes over your emotions for you…this is beautiful, real and heartfelt…I am at a loss for words…this is magnificent, sad and just damn wonderful! And when the choir kicks in at the end of the song…grab a hanky…JEEZ!!!

The Ones You Love—-Ending this release with a sedate and wonderful track, this is resplendent with emotional and conscious raising lyrics. this covers all of the trails of the world and urges us as humans to care about others…lest the unfortunate become those you love or yourself…pay attention!

****3/4 out of 5


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