Howard Jones "Best"

Howard Jones: “Best”

Despite a career stretching back more than three decades, to many Howard Jones is still “that spiky haired bloke with the mime”. Of course there’s much more to him than that; in fact, if you’ve been following the reruns of Top of the Pops on BBC Four you’ll probably have been as surprised as me to realise that Jed Hoile only accompanied Jones on his 1983 début New Song and hasn’t been seen since. So it is with Jones’s career as a whole – he’s done a lot more than you remember and this three disc compilation, compiled by Howard himself, attempts to cover it all.

Although not entirely chronological, disc one concerns itself with Jones’s ’80s output and is thus top heavy with hits. All ten of his UK top forty entries are here – Things Can Only Get Better, Like To Get To Know You Well, an extended What Is Love? – plus some that were bigger hits in the US, including Everlasting Love and The Prisoner, both of which reached the top thirty of the Billboard Hot 100 in 1989, long after Jones’s top forty career had ended in the UK.

The second disc opens with Lift Me Up, a 1992 #52 hit in the UK which deserved better but also marks the end of Jones’s major label period. Forming his own Dtox label, Jones continued to release his own albums to increasing indifference. Some of it has not aged well: Cookin’ In The Kitchen and You’re The Buddha, heavily reliant on keyboard presets and rhythm boxes, now sound like the sort of royalty free music that gets added to YouTube videos. Things pick up around the middle of disc two with more polished tracks like Let The People Have Their Say (a number 99 success in 1999, minor hit fans) and we even veer into EDM territory with more recent material such as Revolution Of The Heart, although a brace of lighters-aloft ballads brings the disc to a near standstill until we close with the electro stompalong Eagle Will Fly Again from last year’s Eddie The Eagle film. Disc three adds seven live tracks as well as a remix which grafts a drum ‘n’ bass beat onto You’re The Buddha with dubious results.

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The sequencing of disc two and some of the track selections could be better, but overall Best is an engaging insight into what Howard has been up to since he was last on Top of the Pops. Come for the hits, stay for the more upbeat selections from his later work.

8/10