Picks and Pans Review: For the Memories

updated 02/26/1990 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/26/1990 AT 01:00 AM EST

Don McLean

McLean has never displayed a voice to knock over walls, but he has been consistently affable and personal in his delivery. Those qualities are just the right ones for this double album of old pop songs that have in common two things: McLean likes them and they are still great to hear.

Even "Travelin' Man," the ultrasexist Jerry Fuller tune of pretty Polynesian babies that was a hit for Rick (then Ricky) Nelson in 1961, seems mostly quaint. McLean, singing in front of a six-piece band and the Jordanaires, also rejuvenates such songs as Marty Robbins's "A White Sport Coat," "You Don't Know Me" by Cindy Walker and Eddy Arnold, and the Sam Cooke hit "What a Wonderful World." Trivia fans may want to try to recall who sang the originals of "If I Only Had a Match," "Sittin' in the Balcony" and "Nobody Knows You When You're Down & Out." (Give up already? Try Al Jolson, Eddie Cochran and Bessie Smith.)

Given such memorable-by-definition material, McLean doesn't force anything. He generates an easy, warm sound that's ideal for rainy nights, quiet projects and/or reminiscing about past disappointments and triumphs. (Gold Castle)

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