Album Reviews

Craig David – Greatest Hits

(Sire) UK release date: 24 November 2008

Craig David - Greatest Hits Strewth, has Craig David really been around that long that it’s time for a Greatest Hits already? Time flies by these days, and the garage wunderkind turned smooth soulster is back with a compilation crammed with his greatest hits and a couple of newbies.

Reading between the lines, now is the perfect time for David to take stock of his career. His last few singles haven’t exactly rocked the charts and in these heady days at the end of the decade it is all too easy to become yesterday’s star.

This review CD is the deluxe edition, adding four extra tracks and a bonus DVD of official videos. All par for the course in these dark days of record company marketing, although it is odd that two of David’s bigger hits (Rendezvous and Spanish) don’t feature on the bog standard release.

David’s earliest hit Rewind, a collaboration with UK garage band Artful Dodger (remember them?) is buried at the end of the CD. Curiously the track has lost its original title (Re-Rewind), and its place in the running order is maybe a testament to the impact of the merciless lampooning David received at the hands of the idiotic Leigh Francis in Bo’ Selecta! Long after Bo’ Selecta and garage have disappeared into the cultural vortex, Rewind can be enjoyed for its great beat and David’s smooth vocals.

That voice was soon all over the charts with a string of massive hit singles. Fill Me In made David the youngest solo male artist to reach the top of the UK charts and remains a great song to this day. 7 Days also reached number 1 and broke David into the US Top 10, but also marked the start of the backlash that has bedevilled his career. The ridiculous lyrics were manna from heaven for many better comedians than Leigh Francis and in a trice David was transformed from underground garage star made good to a tabloid figure of fun.

He kept on racking up the hits, of course. Walking Away and Rendezvous made it four Top 10 singles from his debut Born To Do It, although to this day it is hard to listen to the former without expecting Bono to begin bellowing the lyrics to One.

David attempted to toughen up his image with the first single from his follow-up album, and although What’s Your Flava? is a great production there remains something vaguely forced about the whole thing. And when your next single is a collaboration with Sting it’s easy to surmise that David was always MOR to the tip of his goatee.

After the second album the hits continued for a while but is was notable that David’s moment in the spotlight was fading. With his record sales falling he resorted to sampling David Bowie on 2007’s Hot Stuff (Let’s Dance), his first Top 10 hit in two years. This year he returned to his garage roots on Where’s Your Love, which features a chorus well known to fans of that genre. The track stalled outside the Top 50.

Who exactly is this compilation for? Casual fans may be reminded that David possesses a great set of pipes and has released his fair share of classic singles, many of which will be played on mainstream radio for years to come. The hip garage kids have long since moved on to the latest flavour of the day, leaving David in uncomfortable limbo in search of that elusive comeback hit.

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