Zucchero Sugar Fornaciari ‘Wanted: The Best Of’ Deluxe edition 3CD + DVD (Universal Italia/Wrasse) 4/5

Italian singer and guitarist Zucchero, Adelom ‘Zucchero’ (Italian for ‘sugar’ and the singer’s nickname since a child) Fornaciari, is something of a phenomenon in his native Italy and his own take on a diluted form of the blues aimed squarely at a mass market pop audience has resulted in big selling albums. That said, Zucchero has a genuine love of blues and soul music, and as a teenager was taught the guitar by a black American student. His mid-1980’s debut recording, ‘Blue’ (1987) sold one million copies and he enjoyed UK pop chart success in 1991 with an unexpected duet featuring Paul Young,’Senza Una Donna’, which went into the top five. Numerous musicians of standing have guested on his albums and they include Eric Clapton, Jimmy Smith and Rufus Thomas among many others.

Full marks are due to Universal for this extremely well thought out and generous package that amounts to a deluxe ‘greatest hits’ package. The CD’s are chronologically divided up into separate eras, with latter taking the Zucchero story bang up-to-date between 2005 and the present. Another hit duet, with Randy Crawford, ‘Diamante’, found favour with British audiences in 1992.

This writer found it difficult to warm to the large pop concert atmosphere of the live DVD recording in Verona and unlike say Paolo Conte, there is nothing specifically Italian about his sound (aside of course from the lyrics which are predominantly in his mother tongue). However, for those already devoted to the cause and they are seemingly numerous, this will prove to be something of a revelation and consecration of the singer’s craft. To the DVD is added another lengthy documentary that sheds light on the persona behind the pop image, and features enlightening interviews with the live musicians, culled from the crème de la crème of American and Italian studio musicians. In sum, three marks for the actual musical content, but, given the outstanding package as a whole, four marks in total.

Tim Stenhouse