By Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Michael Johnson was a '70s singer/songwriter with a gift for melody and a fondness for mellow arrangements, which meant that his records turned into warm, soothing soft-rock instead of folky musings. He later abandoned this trait, as he turned to contemporary country and then contemporary singer/songwriters, but his prime remains those late '70s/early '80s records, where his songwriting had a strong pop bent and a lush, engaging production. These are showcased to their best effect on EMI/Capitol's 2002 collection, Classic Masters. It contains highlights from his records for Capitol, including all of his big hits ("Bluer Than Blue", "This Night Won't Last Forever", "You Can Call Me Blue"), plus a bunch of lesser-known singles and album tracks. Razor & Tie's The Very Best Of Michael Johnson: Bluer Than Blue may cover more chronological ground, but Johnson's work past the early '80s can sound a little sterile no matter how well the songs are written, due to the recording. This boils his prime down to 12 songs, making it a great choice for the less dedicated fans, soft rock afficianados and a perfect introduction for the curious.