Picks and Pans Review: Simple Pleasures

updated 05/23/1988 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/23/1988 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Bobby McFerrin

Equipped with nothing more than his voice, McFerrin has always been a surprising man. Besides singing beautifully, he can simulate everything from a carousel organ to a trumpet. (His brassy rendition of 'Round Midnight at the 1986 Grammys was an unforgettable musical moment.) With this album, what was once unpredictable becomes stunning. Formerly his recordings had been linear in nature, impressively showing his range and adaptability, but they weren't all that satisfying after repeated listenings. On Simple Pleasures, McFerrin for the first time multitracks his voice, and the result is unimaginably rich. From the lilting calypso of Don't Worry, Be Happy to the righteous gospel of Come to Me, McFerrin elevates a cappella singing to dizzying new heights. The album is most remarkable for its covers of well-known pop songs. McFerrin takes the Beatles' Drive My Car out for a coy, gossamer spin. The Rascals' Good Lovin' turns into a street-corner rumble. The singer's instrumental...whoa, check that...wordless version of Buddy Miles's Them Changes is a wonderment; in his hands, Sunshine of Your Love is more psychedelic than Cream ever dreamed of. The whole record sounds like a great doo-wop group backed by a swinging orchestra. But there's nobody in here except ol' Bobby. And the man is a wizard. (EMI-Manhattan)

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