Rick Astley was one of the more distinctive acts from the Stock, Aitken & Waterman stable of singers and groups from the late 1980s. While it was true that Kylie Minogue went on to have a consistent long lasting, almost unbroken series of hits, and artists like Bananarama, Donna Summer, and Cliff Richard were famous long before SAW got their production teeth into them, Rick Astley had seven Top Ten hits in the '80s and a brief comeback with a different image in 1991, and it was generally accepted that his voice would have made him a star, whatever the production background. It was inevitable that with the wave of nostalgia of all things from the '80s that swept through the music industry in the 2000s, Astley would be one of the artists given the reissue treatment, and in spring 2008 came Ultimate Collection, a 17-track compilation that included every one of his nine Top Ten singles as well as the four lesser hits in the '90s. However, it was in 2002 that a Greatest Hits collection was first released and charted briefly, if only for four weeks, and this too included all 13 hit singles. Then in 2006 came Together Forever: The Best of Rick Astley, a double album, 36-track compilation that strangely omitted "My Arms Keep Missing You," the dance track on the other side of the ballad "When I Fall in Love," the latter track being remembered for one of the most political chart moves in recent times as EMI saw the Rick Astley song on the rival RCA label was destined for the Christmas number one in 1987 and began heavily promoting their original version by Nat King Cole, thus splitting the sales and allowing their own act, the Pet Shop Boys to hit number one with the most un-Christmassy "Always of My Mind," a move that nearly backfired when the Pogues' "Fairytale of New York" came up on the rails and nearly topped the Christmas chart for yet another company, Warner Brothers. The 2008 Rick Astley album, Ultimate Collection almost followed a chronological list of his hits, opening with his biggest in both the U.K. and U.S., "Never Gonna Give You Up" and followed this with his other U.S. number one "Together Forever," slipping "Whenever You Need Somebody" at track number four, and placing the two main ballads, "When I Fall in Love" and "Cry for Help" together on the album after the rest of the formula Stock, Aitken & Waterman dance hits. The minor '90s hit were all featured late in the album's running order just before his self-composed "Body and Sou,l" the previously unreleased "Full of You", and the Don McLean classic "Vincent." ~ Sharon Mawer, Rovi
Track samples provided courtesy of iTunes
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