A well-deserved best of, that’s for sure, yet thenagging feeling remains that Beverley Knight may notyet have been allowed to realise her full potential,either by record buyers or her label. It’s difficultto pin a finger on this exactly, but the direction ofher most recent single offers a few clues.
Piece Of My Heart is, for sure, a cobweb-blastingcover, and the Knight vocal chords are as raw andemotive as ever. And yet it smacks of celebrity fameacademy, a feeling enhanced by Knight’s recent cosyingup to Nicky Campbell for the BBC’s recent shocker JustThe Two Of Us. Seems her PR has been workingovertime.
A listen to the earlier records confirms the oldclich� about the first ones being the best. They havea club edge to them, a rhythmic verve and sharpness tothe production that gets smoothed off all too easilyfor the radio friendly models we have now.
Made It Back is a cracker, borrowing fromChic in both versions here, its urban mixsuperior to the ‘Good Times’ single edit. Greatest Dayremains a blissfully happy piece of music. Flavour OfThe Old School, the breakthrough hit, has a sweetinnocence with close harmonies that found their wayonto many a 1990s street soul compilation.
Regardless of quality, Knight’s voice carries everysong here, and that includes even an unnecessary livecover of Angels. She’s surely one of the few Britishtalents who can really belt out a song but not soundforced and technically calculated – she could even gether something out of a page of Auto Trader!
Which makes it all the more shameful about theshift towards the middle of the road and the relianceon covers. Shoulda Woulda Coulda points the way – agood song, effortlessly delivered, but unmistakablyM25 rather than Twice as Nice. Keep This Fire Burningis an uplifting blend of layered vocals and aresourceful chorus, while Come As You Are hints at arockier direction. All impressive, but the club edgehas gone.
Still, let’s not make it personal, for Knight is ahugely talented, driven lady with one of the bestvoices around, and while you may skip a song or twohere it won’t be on her account. It’s just to be hopedthis end of chapter one retrospective sees her takingstock and swinging out of reality TV, back towards thedancefloor.