Best known for his string of late-'80s MOR blues-pop hit singles, Middlesbrough's biggest musical export Chris Rea has spent the best part of the noughties reinventing himself as a Tom Waits-esque
troubadour with a series of ambitious and often gargantuan-sized albums focusing on the vintage slide guitar blues sounds that influenced his hugely successful 30-year career. More up to date than 1994's The Best Of
and more extensive than 2005's Heartbeats
, Still So Far to Go
is the husky-voiced guitarist's first hits collection to place as much emphasis on his later more revered and prolific output as his more familiar and commercial airplay staples. Spanning four decades, the comprehensive two-CD, 34-track compilation features material from his 1978 debut Whatever Happened to Benny Santini?
(his biggest U.S. hit, "Fool [If You Think It's Over]") right up to 2005's mammoth 11-disc offering Blue Guitars
("Somewhere Between Highway 61 & 49"), including the 1996 soundtrack La Passione
("When the Grey Skies Turn to Blue") to his self-penned film of the same name. Eight of the tracks that were remastered for his 1988 compilation, New Light Through Old Windows
, appear, including the jaunty "Let's Dance," the iconic guitar-twanging "On the Beach," and his festive classic "Driving Home for Christmas," alongside several later tunes that are also given the improved sound quality treatment, such as his hellish tale of the M25, "The Road to Hell," the title track from his number one album Auberge
, and his final U.K. hit, 1994's "You Can Go Your Own Way." Fans who already own this material, probably several times over, will be appeased by the inclusion of two previously unreleased songs, "Come So Far, Yet Still So Far to Go," a quintessentially Rea bluesy stomper with a hint of T. Rex-esque
glam rock, and "Valentino," a melancholic and heartfelt dedication to his dear departed Jack Russell pet. With no contributions from his most recent effort, 2008's The Return of the Fabulous Hofner Blue Notes
, Still So Far to Go
missed the opportunity to produce a fully updated retrospective, but overall, it's a consistently strong and representative history of Britain's most commercially successful blues-rock performer.