2 +2 = 5 – Best Of + Rarities

Anmeldt av Jens Nepper
(Frontiers Music, 2020)

Karakter: 3/6

markspiro.jpgNot that long ago, Frontiers Records released this 3CD set by renowned songwriter Mark Spiro who has worked and collaborated with countless notable artists and musicians over the years (including Giant and Bad English), and what we are getting here are two discs containing his greatest hits and then a third one consisting of rare cuts form the vault.  

Stylistically speaking, “2 +2 = 5” is rooted in melodic rock and AOR, and there is a prominent 80s sheen to many of the compositions that are to be found on the “Best Of” sections of this package. That Spiro is a skilled songsmith whose compositional skills are way beyond that of many others is hardly something that is up for discussion and some of the guy’s arrangements are pretty fucking superb. While some tunes may recall certain aspects of Foreigner, others are clearly more influenced by pop and rock from the 60s such as the Beatles, which is cool. The thing about this compilation is that it offers an interesting perspective on much of Spiro’s work and highlights his talents, but it does not do a whole lot for me as many of these pieces feel bland and offer little in the way of passion and atmosphere and things lose their momentum. They are almost a little to polished, streamlined, and predictable to these ears. Having said that, Spiro has a great voice and a good ear for catchy melodies, and there are gems to be found here, namely “Mid-Western Skies”, “The Rain Came Tumblin’ Down”, the glorious rocker “Vendetta”, and the funky “Feels Like”. Another interesting tune is “When You Were Nothing”, which possesses an aura that is strangely reminiscent of Paul Simon’s magical “Graceland” LP. On the other hand, you also get dreadful tracks such as “Screaming Like a Crow” and “When Winter Comes”, so it is fair to say that the records are uneven with respect to quality. In general, his collaborations with Michael Thompson (of which are there are many on the first CD) are better and more noteworthy than most of the other ones that are scattered across these discs.     

There is something to enjoy here and yet there are too many compositions that lack spark and vigor, and several of them possess a good flow but do not manage to linger in your head after you have listened to them, which is frustrating. Is “2 + 2 = 5” primarily for the fans and completists then? Well, given that two of the discs are comprised of his best tunes, one could argue that this 3CD affair would be a good starting point if you are curious as to what this accomplished and respected musician offers. Personally, this is neither remarkable in the overall perspective nor something that I will necessarily return to again in the future.  


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