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  • Briefly one of the biggest British stars of the pre-Beatles pop era, London-born singer/actor Adam Faith's matinee idol looks and swooning romantic tones made him one of the first true teenage heartthrobs. Like its title suggests, the EMI collection Hits! (a repackaged edition of 2001's The Very Best Of) focuses solely on his glory days, with 26 tracks spanning from 1959 chart-topper "What Do You Want?" (the shortest song ever to reach the top spot) right up until 1966's minor hit "Cheryl's Goin' Home," ignoring the subsequent decade, which saw him struggle to keep up with the pop revolution, and his short-lived '90s comeback. There's an undeniable charm to the first half of the album, most of which was composed by a young John Barry, from the waltz-lite "Who Am I?," to the gentle rockabilly of "Made You," to the Buddy Holly-inspired second and final number one "Poor Me." But the sickly sweet "Someone Else's Baby" and the festive novelty "Lonely Pup (In a Christmas Shop)" make it plainly clear why Faith struggled to be taken seriously with his later work. Perhaps unfairly, too, as there are several tracks here worthy of slotting in alongside his more credible counterparts' back catalogs, whether it's the jaunty Merseybeat of "We Are in Love" (one of four numbers recorded with backing band the Roulettes), the Bacharach-penned lounge-pop of "A Message to Martha" (one of only two songs that clock in over the three-minute mark), or the quivering Elvis-esque balladry of "Lonesome." With the absence of material from his seven studio albums and a mid-'60s cutoff point, Hits! certainly doesn't tell the whole Adam Faith story, but it's a solid overview for those who want to remember him at his best. ~ Jon O'Brien
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