Picks and Pans Review: Both Sides of Love

UPDATED 06/22/1981 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 06/22/1981 at 01:00 AM EDT

Paul Anka

The overproduction slavered on many Anka records is akin to serving escargots a la Provençale, truffle soup and a 1964 Chateau Petrus with meat loaf. Anka has won over the masses, but he has a limited range and a delivery that's bland at best. He's easily lost in any elaborate orchestration. That makes his achievement all the more remarkable on this, his first Nashville LP. Country tinges added by producer Larry Butler and string arranger Bill Justis are tastefully uncluttered. And if Anka's vocal apparatus is still no threat to Willie or Way-Ion, he is appealing on standbys like Lady Lay Down and on You're Still a Part of Me, a collaboration with Bobby Goldsboro. The latter pairing conjures up a poem co-written by Rod McKuen and Barbara Cartland, but the tune is nice. Anka first hit big at 15 in 1956 with Diana—which has sold more than 20 million copies and been reissued in Britain in honor of Prince Charles' betrothed. Despite such embarrassments along the way as Puppy Love and You're Having My Baby, he has been a durable performer. Now 39, he has formed a movie company and plans to try acting, though if this record is any indication, Anka isn't likely to disappear soon from the record charts.

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