August 10, 1981 12:00 PM

Neil Sedaka

To the extent popular music contributes to America’s obsession with romance and sex, Sedaka is a culprit of long standing. For early brainwashing in the philosophy that those who don’t have a date for this Saturday night are doomed forever, it’s hard to beat such inane Sedaka tunes as Calendar Girl, Happy Birthday Sweet Sixteen, Oh! Carol or the more recent Laughter in the Rain. This album perpetuates Sedaka’s almost lunatic cheerfulness, typified by Love Is Spreading Over the World and The Big Parade (“Life is but a happy song/And you’re a fool if you don’t sing along”). The songs are full of simple melodies and primitive arrangements, the trademarks of Sedaka and his longtime composing partner, Howard Greenfield. You can usually sing along after the first eight bars. Sedaka’s vocal style is clean, strong and more resourceful than his music. (His 1976 reprise of Breaking Up Is Hard to Do, which he turned almost into a torch song, was an example.) What would he sound like singing more substantial pop composers—Joel and Hamlisch, if not Kristofferson and Sondheim? It might be a disaster, but at least the material would be more befitting a man of 42.

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