Lulu - To Sir With Love! (The Complete Mickie Most Recordings)
For the majority of American listeners, Lulu's career began and ended with "To Sir with Love," the theme song to the 1967 box office hit, though she enjoyed considerably greater success in the United Kingdom, and not without reason. Lulu had a solid, spirited voice that could handle an admirable range of material, and she tended to get good songs that she made the most of with the assistance of some very talented studio help (John Paul Jones arranged much of the material on her 1969 set Lulu's Album). To Sir with Love: The Complete Mickey Most Recordings features 39 tunes recorded during Lulu's tenure with famed British producer Most, and if this consistently leans to the more commercial side of British pop of the late '60s, it's great pop with heart, soul, and no shortage of enthusiasm. On tunes like "Love Loves to Love, Love" and her cover of the Beatles' "Day Tripper," Lulu sounds very convincing belting out tough rock & roll, and she's just as confident handling soulful material with real emotional weight, such as "Morning Dew" and "To Love Somebody." And while she also gets her share of MOR pop tunes here, she handles them flawlessly, and "The Best of Both Worlds" and "A House Is Not a Home" are marvelous, heart-tugging stuff. Lulu and Most had a great ear for material, tackling numbers from the songbook of Neil Diamond, Dan Penn, Harry Nilsson, and Elton John, and even the lesser tracks (we get three versions of the less-than-thrilling "Boom Bang a Bang" -- in English, French, and Italian!) are executed with superb craft and as much feeling as the singer could muster. Lulu continued to make fine records through the 1970s and still performs today, but her early material captured her at her peak, and this thoroughly enjoyable package offers the lion's share of her excellent 1967-1969 work, digitally remastered and sounding spectacular with intelligent liner notes. Fans will love it and those who only know Lulu as the "To Sir with Love" girl will be very pleasantly surprised.