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Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts Review: Collin Raye and BJ Thomas Sing Them as They Should Be Sung

By Glen Creason
Entertainment Editor

 

While the house was full on Saturday night for a night of nostalgia there should have been more young singers in the house to listen to the masters demonstrate the art of vocalizing. Collin Raye and BJ Thomas never said as much but they represent an old-fashioned way of singing a song, with the lyrics and melody first and embellishments much later. While both men have never strode the opera stage or performed before the footlights of Broadway they both have thousands of hours honing their crafts and it shows from the first confident note to the last sweet sounds from the stage.

Collin Raye opened the evening’s entertainment and should have easily carried any full concert but was it was this was like a box of Sees candy with your two favorites filling the concert of sweet delights. Raye may appear in the Country and Western section of a record store but he expands the genre quite a bit and really shines on sentimental ballads that are beyond any genre. He ran the gamut from the rollicking “Little Red Rodeo” and “That’s My Story and I’m Sticking to It” to the Kleenex eliciting “Little Rock,” “Still Feel You,” “In This Life,” and “If You Get There Before I Do” that increased precipitation in the hall by a few handkerchiefs. He also moved outside his own stuff to excellent covers of Phil Collins’ “Against All Odds” and twin Glenn Campbell glories “Gentle on My Mind” and the soaring “Galveston” that Raye made shine with his clear as a bell tenor. While this man may be most famous for hits in another decade he is one fine singer right today.

Speaking of other decades, the concert was concluded by BJ Thomas whose evergreen baritone does not seem to have a speck of dust upon it, despite over fifty years of stretching his voice out over audiences across the world. Looking fit and rather elegant Thomas sailed easily through a dozen and a half winners from a fine career stretching back five decades, seeming to defy father time considering his first hits rang over the airwaves when I was a high school kid. This voice is one of a kind, relaxed yet able to leap tall buildings and flexible toward ballads or the kind of cautionary tales that make pop music an important part of American culture. He was at his best in those pop songs we remember: “Hooked on a Feeling,” “Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song.” “Little Green Apples,” “This Guys In Love With You” and the obligatory “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head” that he made vibrate just like it was 1969 again. He also showed his experience and range when he ventured into R&B stuff like “Get Ready,” “Inside My Life” and the well-heated “Can’t Turn You Loose.” Thomas is helped along by a really fine band, led by amazing guitarist Tom Wild who wields a fender as well as any rock and roll player seen in these parts.

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