John Farnham, Whispering Jack

This album is a novelty in America (except for occasional runs of "You're The Voice" on knowing 80s stations), which doesn't make sense, because it's an absolute beauty. It's so beloved in Australia as an icon of contemporary pop that my Aussie wife bought it for me a second time forgetting I'd already bought it before. It could be that Farnham's distinctive vocals sounded too much like his time in the Little River Band when they flopped in the States, or it could be that his career had just slid that far since his teen idol days, which to be sure never took off Stateside either. So call it a comeback album if you like, but the sheer exuberance of songs like "Going, Going, Gone," "Love To Shine" or the album's best track "Pressure Down" could make one think he hadn't ever had a care in the world. While the slow moments ("No One Comes Close," "Touch of Paradise") are no lyrical titans, the emotional heft bursts through his every note and you can't help but exult in an album that just feels so wonderful to listen to. Cursed to remain a staple of record stores down under for as long as they exist, I have no doubts I'll get another copy in a few years, and it'll still be that good; in these polarized times we could all stand to take the pressure down as well. The CD reissue adds the extended version of "Pressure Down" which is merely longer rather than better. (Content: no concerns.)