CD: Sandy McKnight’s “How I Changed the World”

Sandy McKnight: How I Changed The World(22 Records, 2010):

Wow! This is one seriously massive undertaking.

Singer-songwriter-producer-etc. Sandy McKnight has dug through his vaults to put together a best-of compilation of his work throughout the years. But this is no ordinary compilation.

It’s a whopping three-CD set that features a total of 66 songs. And these discs ain’t skimpy, either. Clocking in at 69 minutes and 47 seconds, disc one (dubbed “The Hits”) is the shortest of the three. And, oh yeah, the set also includes a fourth disc that features 60-page digital booklet with all kinds of liner notes and photos. It’s all neatly wrapped up in a nifty, 12×12-inch, vinyl album-like package.


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If that’s not enough, McKnight has also simultaneously released 10 more songs, demos and unfinished recordings that didn’t make the cut. (He calls them “diamonds in the rough,” but admits that some might be cubic zirconia.) And he’s packaged them together as a digital download collection titled “Interesting Failures.”

It’s all a bit too much for a normal person to listen to, let alone digest. Which is too bad because this is good stuff. Really good stuff. McKnight has a big power-pop heart, and it shines through everywhere on these discs – catchy, infectious hooks, memorable ear-candy melodies and sturdy, chugging rhythms.

McKnight has been recording for more than three decades now. Along the way, he’ lived in New York City, London and Los Angeles. And he’s been in such bands as Numbers, the Truants and most recently, the virtual combo the Ragamuffins of Love (with McKnight employing the nom de rock Eff Dupp). They’re all represented here, along with plenty of McKnight’s solo selections and songs that he’s written/produced for other artists.

McKnight’s impressive songcraft and vocals resonate with the influence Elvis Costello and Colin Hay, but he cuts such a wide swath across the history of pop music that it’s unfair to pigeon hole his approach.

The biggest problem with this set is that it’s so gigantic, so ambitious that I’m afraid it’s going to scare away casual listeners. So just go his website and sample a few tracks for free. Ease your way into his undeniable pop world. Chances are good that you’ll find yourself singing along with the first song that you hear. And then you’ll be hooked…

“How I Changed the World” is available digitally for $20; $30 for the physical CD set. “Interesting Failures” is available digitally for $8. Go here.

Sandy McKnight and his band Tastes Like Chicken will be among the featured performers at the Capital Area Indie Fest at The Egg in Albany at 7:30pm on Saturday. Other performers include Imagining Lennon, a reunion of John Powhida & the Staziaks, John Brodeur, Michael Eck, Capital Zen, Vinnie Velez and Charlie Phillips. The fest is a benefit for the Columbia Arts Team, and tix are $20.

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