For more than 30 years, David Pack has enjoyed great success as a songwriter, vocalist, musician, and producer. His years with progressive rock/soft rock stalwarts Ambrosia produced four huge hits (that Pack either wrote or co-wrote) that still enjoy frequent airplay on adult contemporary and oldies radio.
Pack has written big hits for others, too, including the mega-hit (and unfortunate) “All I Need” as sung by the one-hit-wonder Jack Wagner. On top of that, he’s produced many of the biggest artists of the past two decades like Faith Hill, Phil Collins, Brian McKnight, Amy Grant, and Michael McDonald, just to name a few.
David Pack’s third solo album, The Secret of Movin’ On, proves that he can belt it out just as well as he did in Ambrosia’s prime. In this release, Pack proudly carries the soft rock banner, infusing the sound Ambrosia perfected with smooth jazz influences. Pack’s smooth tenor delivery fits the adult contemporary sound of this album perfectly. You really get a sense of sincerity in Pack’s voice.
The production quality of each song is top-notch, as is the CD packaging. The CD sleeve incorporates some of Elton John lyricist Bernie Taupin’s abstract paintings, which are a nice touch to an already smart design.
Pack received some help on this album by some particularly talented artists, including “The Secret of Movin’ On (Travelin’ Light)” with Ann Wilson of Heart, “A Brand New Start” with Steve Perry of Journey fame, “Tell Her Goodbye” with Dewey Bunnell of America and “Where We Started From” with Timothy B. Schmidt of The Eagles.
My personal favorite from this album is the blues-tinged “Tell Her Goodbye,” which is also the most simple of the CD’s 11 tracks. This tune features dual acoustic guitars with Pack on lead vocals and Dewey Bunnell backing him up. Other highlights include “The Secret of Movin’ On (Travelin’ Light),” “Vertical Disbelief (That’s Not Me),” “A Brand New Start,” and the somewhat over-sentimental, but beautiful nonetheless “When Your Love Was Almost Mine.”
The only major flaw of this album is the inclusion of new versions of the classic Ambrosia hits “Biggest Part of Me” and “You’re the Only Woman.” Sure, these songs were great when they first appeared on One Eighty in 1980. And, in fact, the original recordings still sound good today. They don’t have that “dated” quality that much of the music of that era has.
So why the remakes? Maybe a marketing-minded associate of Pack’s pointed out that these songs are tailor-made for smooth jazz radio, with a few modifications, of course. It’s just a theory, but there’s something just a little odd about re-recording your own songs.
DavidPack.com mentions that these covers were originally meant to be “bonus tracks.” Putting them at the end of the CD as bonus tracks would have been a good idea. I’m just glad Pack didn’t remake the great hit “Holdin’ on to Yesterday.” That’s far and away my favorite Ambrosia song, and I really didn’t need another version of it floating around in my head.
I will say this, though. The remakes prove that Pack’s voice has lost nothing since 1980. His voice quality remains unchanged after 25 years. This 50-something year old man has a gift and it’s good to see he’s taken care of it through the years.
Though this album has flaws like the afore mentioned remakes, its strength lies in Pack’s strong songwriting, well written melodies, sharp arrangements, and smooth voice. Oh, and the album’s guests aren’t too shabby either. If you enjoy bands like Ambrosia, Air Supply, Player, and Little River Band, there’s a good chance you’ll like The Secret of Movin’ On.
Technorati tag: Jazz