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Aural Pleasure Review

Chris Isaak: Beyond the Sun

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Like a dog with a rubber chew toy he won't surrender, you have to admire Chris Isaak's tenacity. Since emerging a quarter-century ago, he's delivered the same Sun Studios-inflected rockabilly/crooner pop with effortless grace and implacable TV star cool, and you have to admit the two or three he hits are pitch-perfect. It makes evaluating this loving ode to his personal musical nirvana difficult. Certainly, if you spotted Isaak at the karaoke bar belting out "Great Balls of Fire," "Now or Never," "Ring of Fire," or "I Walk the Line," you'd stop and applaud his bravura performance, but would you pay to hear frequently covered classics performed much like the originals? Being so keenly and easily able to evoke this musical period makes it difficult for Isaak not to sound encased in amber. His fans will undoubtedly enjoy these 14 classic Sun tracks, recorded and self-produced at the legendary Memphis studio with his longtime band. Hardcore fans might even spring for the Deluxe Edition, which includes 11 additional tracks including "Oh, Pretty Woman," while others will wonder what's the point? Of course, why should an old dog learn a new trick when he's so mastered the first one?

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