Greatest Hits Live

Christopher Cross

CMC International Records, 1999

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


For reasons unknown to myself, record company executives and publicists, Christopher Cross still remains a trivia question in the world of popular music. In 1998, Cross put out the spectacular album Walking In Avalon, which included a disc of new material as well as a live concert featuring his greatest hits. While this should have been the album that re-awakened people to Cross's music, it failed to pull the trigger.

Somewhere in some boardroom, someone decided that if people wouldn't listen to some of the music the first time around, hit them over the head with it again, only in a more economical package. Thus was born Greatest Hits Live, the latest disc from Cross. While it's still a very pleasant listen, if you were one of the few who did buy Walking In Avalon, this will be ground you've already covered. More on that in a minute.

First, let's focus on the selections at hand. Seven of the first 10 songs featured on this disc are the best-known tracks from Cross's brief but powerful flirtation with popular acclaim. While the songs are now up to two decades old, there's still a magical quality about hearing Cross's gentle vocals weave a pattern on tracks like "Sailing" and "Think Of Laura." Likewise, there's something to be said for re-discovering songs of Cross's you'd forgotten about over the years like "Never Be The Same" and "All Right," both of which are featured.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The three songs in this first group that are the virtual unknowns - "Every Turn Of The World," "Open Up My Window" and "Is There Something" - are more than enough to pique one's interest in the portion of Cross's career that escaped public view for the most part - though in the cases of discs like Window, your best bet to get your hands on them would be through an eBay auction. (One of these days, I will lay my hands on Rendezvous and Back Of My Mind to round out my collection.)

As a form of a "look what you missed" teaser, two tracks from Cross's last studio effort are included in this package. "Walking In Avalon" and "Hunger" are both excellent selections that, if there is a God, awaken people's attention to this album - though I would have bit the bullet and included my personal favorite, "When She Smiles". (Mark my words: that song is going to be the focal point for a movie one day... even if I have to write the damned screenplay.)

As an added bonus, an unlisted track finishes off the disc - a live version of "Alibi," another track that the diehard Cross fans will instantly recognize. The rest of us will just have to be mesmerized by it for the time being.

Now for the bad news, if you can call it that: If you already own Walking In Avalon, you've got these songs already. They all come from the same show that was featured both on the live disc as well as the video/DVD release An Evening With Christopher Cross. (As soon as I get the DVD drive fixed in my computer, I'll be watching this title, as well as a few other new releases from CMC.) What might have been a neat marketing plan would have been to feature a different show of Cross's, giving fans another reason to run out and snag this disc.

Greatest Hits Live is still as enjoyable a package, even in a condensed form from the Walking In Avalon version, and is just as deserving of your attention. If anything, this disc captures the "top of the pops" era of Cross's music in a smaller package - and even if this is the thousandth time you've heard "Ride Like The Wind," it is guaranteed to still put a smile on your face. Cross is supposed to have a new studio album coming out this year (though I'm reading that Red Room will be a repackaging of the studio side of Walking In Avalon). Let's hope that Greatest Hits Live is finally the spark that relights the fuse on the popularity aspect of his career. Lord knows he's more than earned a second chance.

2000 Christopher Thelen and "The Daily Vault". All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of the record label, and is used for information purposes only.

Rating: A

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© 2000 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of CMC International Records, and is used for informational purposes only.