The (Not So) Great Lost Paul Hardcastle Review

A guy with one good idea he's run into the ground

Whenever you write a review of an album, typically the editor checks it for spelling and punctuation errors, makes sure it’s formatted correctly and that it fits with the publication’s internal style guide.  99 percent of these reviews sail through without a problem.

Then there’s the one percent like this one.

The editor of All About Jazz kicked this review of Paul Hardcastle’s new album back to me with a lengthy grocery list of reasons for doing so.   Among the more interesting ones were “this kind of verbiage simply sounds like a writer scoring points off the artist, who they clearly don’t like” and the review “doesn’t reflect well on either yourself or AAJ.”

Every writer who has ever submitted their work to an editor occasionally disagrees with editorial decisions.   Creative people have their conflicts.   The editor suggested I rewrite the review.  I declined having figured I had already devoted enough time to a musician I have no strong feelings for and upon going back to the review, I found it acceptable.  My opinion is admittedly biased, but I disagreed with the editor and wrote back to tell him so.

It’s evident to me we don’t agree on the Paul Hardcastle review.  I went back and gave it another reading.   Your comment about me trying to  “score points on the artist”  is not how I see it at all.

This is a review about a guy who hasn’t had an original idea in 26 years.  If I wanted to “score points” I’d call him Paul Hackcastle, not Paul Hardcastle.   That is scoring points.  That is criticizing the music, not the man.   I didn’t do that.  You’re right that I don’t much like Hardcastle, but I believe I gave valid reasons in the review.

It’s your call to run the review or reject it.   As a freelancer I’m well aware what a writer thinks is perfectly acceptable, the editor may say, “Sorry.  Not so much.”

I’ve spent all the time on Paul Hardcastle 6 I intend to.   If I wanted to write it for my blog I would have posted it there.   I wrote it for AAJ.   If you don’t feel it’s up to AAJ standards, then you don’t have to run it.

However, your criticism that it “doesn’t reflect well on either yourself or AAJ”  reads like you’re scoring points on me.

As AAJ’s editor you’re well qualified to reflect upon what doesn’t reflect well on AAJ.   I’m the person who can best assess what doesn’t reflect well on me.

He responded, but bottom line is we disagreed.  It happens.  He’s the editor.  I’m the contributor.  The final word is always his so there’s no point in arguing and ending a relationship both parties have found mutually beneficial until now.  I get free music.  They get reviews of the music.  It’s a win-win and I’m not going to walk away from a five-year professional relationship over a guy like Hardcastle who keeps endlessly recycling the one or two ideas he had 20 years ago. 

Maybe he is a hack, but why jeopardize my access for him?

I did however change my mind.  I figured since I wrote the review, somebody might want to read it besides myself and the editor.

So here’s the (not so) Great Lost Paul Hardcastle review. that was too strong for All About Jazz.

The only thing more generic than the cover is the music.

What’s the difference between a Paul Hardcastle solo album and his Jazzmasters side project ? Okay, that’s a trick question. There is no discernible difference as one project sounds exactly like the other. The music is interchangeable and indistinguishable between the two as the signature sound of Hardcastle’s laid back soundscapes haven’t changed much from his mid-Eighties hits, “Rain Forest” and “19,” both of which show up here in remixed form.

The chill sub-genre leans heavily on plenty of synthesizers, airy vocals, some random sax solos with a some stray flutes and what sounds like vibes (but probably isn’t). It’s too fast for New Age but too colorless to be called jazz, Hardcastle VI lacks the heart or soul to be thought of as little more than fast-food music; mass produced with enough flavor that it tastes good, but not enough to be memorable.

Which isn’t to say this is necessarily bad. Fast food can taste pretty good if you’re in the mood for it and the “Rainforest/What’s Going On” mash-up of Hardcastle’s “Rainforest” and “19” with a sample of {{Marvin Gaye}}’s activist anthem, “What’s Going On?” deserves points for audacity. Depending upon how open the listener’s mind is, this is either an interesting idea or a total travesty. Either way, Hardcastle deserves credit for blending two totally conflicting styles in one pretty passable package.

“Night Time Hustle” and ” Easy Come Easy Go” pick up the pace to the point that if you’re not careful you might actually try to get up and dance. Though Hardcastle is often associated with dancing, whenever Hardcastle VI risks prompting a response other than listening passively another humdrum track featuring Becki Biggins’ vapid vocals wobbles in until the urge passes.

The fans of the Paul Hardcastle formula will welcome the latest installment in what seems like the longest single album in recorded history. It might take only the most hardcore Hardcastle devotee to discern the deviation between Hardcastle VI and the straight line that runs to his eponymous debut some 26 years earlier. For others they may well wonder how this bloodless, passionless music got classified as any sort of jazz.

32 thoughts on “The (Not So) Great Lost Paul Hardcastle Review

  1. My feeling is that AAJ has a certain clientele that it feels it cannot afford to alienate with a review of this nature. You gave your honest impression of the music, and as far as you’re concerned, you told the truth. I applaud you for it!


  2. Jeff,
    Thanks for an entertaining read
    But It must be so obvious even to you !
    That all you did with you’re so called review was you just copied what you said last time,

    This album is crap, Paul is crap , the music is crap bla bla bla
    Personally I couldn’t give a hoot what you say about me, but to see you moaning that an editor has seen through your poor attempt at being a journalist and won’t publish it, now that’s hilarious,

    I dont have an issue with people who don’t like what I do but any “decent journalist” would have the guts to say No I won’t review that because I will never give a fair opinion, or in your case you just copied what you said from last time,
    Do you really need the odd few free CDs that desperately ?

    I noticed you wrote “99 percent of these reviews sale through without a problem”
    What does that mean ? Sale through it’ doesn’t make any sense Jeff !
    sale is when someone buys something, or maybe you mean “SAIL” through,
    So before you start giving out lectures about being crap, I suggest you get your own house in order,

    I’m sorry if I have offended you by making records that people seem to wan’t to buy, I suppose they are all either stupid or deaf in your opinion, at least 10 million of them !

    Seems to me a little jealousy is getting the better of you here Jeff, but good luck with your career seems you may just need it a little more than me



  3. Hey Man..
    As a Vietnam Vet I take my hat off to this dude that told it like it was back in the day . many of my close friends never made it back from Nam and all you do is diss the guy, I wonder what you have ever done for your country man besides talk bullshit and what you say about Herman Cain is just as stupid as you are, go get a proper job cuz


    • There’s a difference between dissing Paul Hardcastle’s “same old song and dance” sound and dissing “19” which I didn’t do.

      As for what I’ve done for my country, I’ve served in the military and t hat’s all the details you need to know.

      And as far as talking bullshit about Herman “Pizzaman” Cain goes, he started the drama with his, “Blacks are brainwashed” bullshit. So if you like him, vote for him. I don’t and so I won’t. It’s a free country.


  4. If I were the type that believed in the phrase “If you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything at all” I would say this: Paul has always had nice-sounding production. :/


  5. Come on, theres criticism and theres just buggin the guy for no real reason, I have followed Mr Hardcastle’s career for 20 years and he has never claimed to be a Jazz musician, he has always said it was a blend of instrumental Soulful Pop Dance, which is what Smooth Jazz is and that’s what he does real well,

    Not everyone needs to make 15 minute solos that bore the crap outa people.
    I was Working at Motown in the 90s and we signed Paul to the label, yea he signed to Motown,
    But maybe you think they are fools for that ?

    I can tell you this he was nothing but a real nice guy with no ego whatsoever, so In my humble opinion you are just looking for a reaction by writing anything nasty or controversial, But hey isn’t that the whole plan here ?
    brotha there is nothing worse than a musical snob !!! and thats what you are,
    It’s music not fu-in religion, get a life


    • You’re right that it’s music, not religion, Ryan and wrong about I’m “just buggin’ the guy for no reason.” I made it clear what the reasons are I have an issue with Paul Hardcastle’s music. You don’t have to agree with the reasons, but if Hardcastle’s not a jazz musician, don’t go around calling your side project
      The Jazzmasters and there’s no issue. Smooth Jazz is much more than “instrumental Soulful Pop Dance” or at least the albums in my collection are. Can’t comment on yours.

      I don’t care if in person Hardcastle is a nice guy or a total jerk. His personality doesn’t mean jack to me. It’s his music I’m talking about. That may rankle the Hardcastle hordes out there, but any artist who puts their music out in the marketplace can’t avoid having that music critiqued and not every critique is going to be a positive one. There are plenty of good reviews of Hardcastle’s albums out there. Do you write those critics comments saying “attaboy” or just troll the net looking for negative ones so you can write a nastygram? If I’m trying to be controversial, it certainly seems to have tweaked some easily offended sensibilities.

      I’m not a musical snob and if you’ve paid any attention to my posts and reviews at AAJ, you would know better than to make such an unsupported and asinine remark. Obviously, you don’t know.

      Get a life? How about you trying to get a clue first?


    • So it’s valid to express an opinion such as “15 minute solos that bore the crap out of people” but not valid to express an opinion about not liking the music on Mr. Hardcastle’s latest release?


  6. It must be hard to take it that you are a failure at your job Mr widbush, I read your comments with great amusement, The editor threw your attempt at complete sarcasm back in your face,
    I get paid for my Job and I work for a real Magazine
    You are where you deserve to be in your career and that’s no where with just some silly little blog that no one hardly ever sees, maybe that’s why you write such garbage

    And what your comments about Herman
    Herman Cain has more class in his trashcan than you have in your whole body. as for attempting to be a writer, you are just so poor, yet for some strange reason you actually think you are a somebody

    Mr Windbush You will never make a real journalist, simply because you think too much of yourself and are arrogant. The way you answer other people as though you are above everyone else.
    In fact you bring shame to the name journalist.
    One last thing What Is Kenny G then if it’s not pop yet he is classed as Smooth will find Sade is the same, why would AAJ ever ask your opinion on music ? beats me
    Peter White ? is he smooth Jazz or Pop,you stick to Miles Davis who I agree was a great musician
    but was never what I wanted to listen to, but if I had to do a review on his album I would at least have wrote constructive Criticism on why I didn’t like it rather than try and make my self look smart
    If Paul Hardcastle has never had anything going for him at all, why do Smooth Jazz radio play his music so much and why do people buy it, are you are implying they are in wrong apart from you

    I read above that Motown actually signed him, well that’s not something to be ashamed of

    The end line is that Artist’s make records that the public wan’t to hear surely, and he give’s people what they wan’t to hear what’s wrong with that, so did Barry White or do you have a problem with him as well,
    If it’s really the project name you don’t like then make it clear

    I’m sure he must be on suicide watch that his career is now all over the fact that you don’t like him Lol


    • Oh, Marsha, Marsha, Marsha. How you DO go on.

      I was tempted to simply delete your comment as being rude and stupid until I read the part when you said “I get paid for my Job and I work for a real Magazine.”

      You capitalize “Job” and “Magazine” and you claim to write for a magazine? What do you do there? Empty the wastebaskets?

      How are you going to try and rip on me when your comment is full of capitalization, punctuation and other grammatical errors? Honey, you can’t even spell my name and it’s right there in the title of the blog!

      Rather than deleting into oblivion your weak attempts at trying to rip someone you obviously don’t know jack about, I’m just going to approve your comment as is and let it speak for itself.

      What does it say? Mostly than I may have a “silly little blog that no one hardly ever sees” and that I write “garbage,” yet here you are like a fly buzzing around the garbage. It speaks more about you than it does about me, Miss Davis I do thank you however for boosting the page hits to my silly little blog.

      I’m also smart enough to spell you last name right. I’ll try being nicer to Paul Hardcastle when you stop being so obnoxious..


  7. I remember someone once told me success always seems to breed contempt and it certainly seems to have much Creedence in your case sir,

    Yes you have the right to your opinions and yes its a free country. but………..
    This is not an honest review it’s just attempting to be sensationalist, I’m sure you can do better than that surely ?

    I understand it must be unpleasant to have your review rejected by the editor but this is
    quite disappointing Mr Winbush
    I’m sorry but that’s my honest view.


    • That’s fine. You’ve already seen my honest view. Sorry if you don’t think it’s an “honest review” but I’m still waiting for a criticism that defends the way Paul Hardcastle keeps reworking his same old songs in slightly different ways.

      I’m not getting that kind of critique. I am getting plenty of sniping at me personally, but apparently there aren’t enough of you who have actually listened to Paul Hardcastle 6 to know what it’s about.

      I have and that’s why I believe my criticism of it is still accurate.


    • Sandra, I am not here to defend Mr. Winbush, he does an adequate job of doing so, but I completely understand the sentiments in his review, especially after listening to the selection he posted…so I do wonder: why do you feel the review was not honest? Which part(s) of the review do you find to be dishonest?


      • Must agree on that point made by Sandra, David, He goes outside of reviewing the Album, and also saying he has a problem with the Band name,
        that should not be a reason to be that spiteful
        after reading the comments on this page I went and found his last review on Hardcastle’s last Album, and it was pretty much the same, just how rubbish it was and no real reasons why.
        Jeff does seem to have some kind of hang up on his music, which I have to say personally I think is good
        Not Jazz I agree but then I have never heard him say it was Jazz


  8. Well I happen to think the mix of Rainforest and Marvin Gayes whats going on is totally original and brilliant, are you aware that the family of Marvin had to give permission as did Motown, they obviously thought it was a good idea , I’m sure Marvin’s family would have objected had it not been great ? would you agree on this point
    I have to question your judgement as it’s the only negative review I have seen, All the youtube comments are positive ! as are the Amazon etc,

    there are plenty of Jazz musicians who just play the same bebop scales over and over and some just play for them selves cant you understand not everyone needs this deep self indulgent stuff

    People must have listened to his album as they have gone out of their way to purchase it I have all his albums and I like them a lot, no one forces us to buy anything , so why do you have a problem with that, he gives us what we actually like not what you say we should like,

    Who do you actually like in the Smooth Jazz format ?

    If you like it or not you cant deny Hardcastle and the Jazzmasters series are very successful and thats because People like myself and many of my friends like his music.
    Paul Hardcastle has always maintained that his fans are the most important thing in his career
    he dosent read reviews in the press, but does read the fan reviews, which in his words are the only ones he cares about,

    I will leave you with this final point, I’m sure if he made music that pleased you he would not be where he is today,
    now if you were in his shoes would you make music for The press or for your fans, be honest now


      • I’m NOT saying money is More important what’s Important is what the fans think , not the press,
        The press don’t buy the music we do, and why ? Because we wan’t to

        Jeez surely it’s not that hard to understand, If All the press reviews were bad then you would have to say well maybe there is a problem with the record, But look on Amazon etc and see what the people who have bought it think,

        It’s the same with Cinema, just because one person thinks a films crap then it goes on to be a box office smash, it means that the majority like it , as is the case with Hardcastle Albums !
        there is a lot of music I don’t like so I just don’t buy it, but just because I don’t like it , that’s not to say it’s bad, Mr Winbush claims its crap and why , Because he doesn’t like it which is ridiculous


      • You apparently don’t understand how critics work, Sandra. It doesn’t matter to me how many records a musician sells or movie tickets an actor convinces people to buy. It’s about critiquing the work, not the audience that purchases it.

        All opinions are subjective. You can argue whether or not it’s a valid one to you, but I don’t really care if 1 million people like something and I do not. I’m not swayed to join the majority if I have reasons that work for me as to why I think something is
        crap. Paul Hardcastle makes crappy albums in my opinion. But I’m not saying Paul Hardcastle is a terrible human being. I just don’t dig his music anymore. Once upon I did, but my tastes changed. His music has stayed exactly the same.

        Whether or not you agree with me doesn’t change how I feel. Just because something sells a lot doesn’t mean it’s good. It just means it’s popular.


  9. Well If you knew that Jeff why bother to review it at all if you already knew you don’t like it,
    I think You made that point well known on your review of the last Jazzmasters Album,
    all I can say is that it must be an awful job to have to listen to something you have already made your mind up about,
    Surely you don’t need to listen to stuff you hate ? that’s why I questioned your reason for actually doing it,
    it does seem you just wanted to just say as much negativity and almost verbal abuse as you could, I guess you will never answer that question truthfully because you did it to be sensationalist but it seems on this occasion it didn’t work as the Editor refused to print it,

    People do like critics but there must be some logic not just it’s exactly the same,
    or the fact that you hate a band-name for crying out loud !



    • Sandra, I’ve explained this to you but apparently the only opinion you’re interested in is your own, so this will be my final response to you on this topic.

      Nobody “forced” me to review Hardcastle VI. I pick and choose the reviews. Some get positive ones and some get negative ones. But I don’t obsess over them. I have a whole new stack of CDs to go through and decide which ones I will review and some will be positive and some will be negative.

      You can accept or reject my reviews, but what you can not do is change them. I don’t appreciate your cheap shots at my “integrity” and you obviously have no understanding what a music critic does.

      I wrote the review, the editor chose not to publish the review and I put it on my blog. That’s the END of it and the end of this discussion. This is the last word on the subject and we are done here.


      • Folks, I’m serious about this: I’ve made my remarks. Paul Hardcastle’s life will go on quite nicely without my approval. Everything that needs to be said HAS been said.

        There will be no more comments pro or con published.



  10. David It was not a review just verbal abuse at Mr Hardcastle, In saying he has not had a decent musical idea in 26 years, What has THAT got to do with reviewing his Album ???
    Ok he dosen’t like it So stick to what he’s reviewing The last album, but no it goes far beyond that,
    and obviously the editor saw through that as well ! otherwise we would have been reading it in the magazine it was done for not just a Blog !


  11. I think this is all pointless in my view, I live in London and there was an Interview with Paul a few weeks ago, he was actually asked what he thought of music critiques and his answer was quite to the point , I couldn’t care less what they think, I never read reviews I only care what my fans think,

    So maybe this should now be finished like Jef has asked for


  12. Really! Wow!! I love all of his albums. No one does it better than him. Jeff, I understand you don’t like his music and probably few other people out there because people prefer certain types of music to another. However, saying that PH music is crap obvious reduces your credentials as a good reviewer. Maybe you don’t prefer his music and that is fine, but to all others we find PH music marvelous.


    • That’s great, James. Glad you’re a big fan of PH’s albums. Maybe nobody does it better, but I don’t think that’s anything to boast about.

      I really could not care what you think ‘reduces my credentials as a good reviewer.” Apparently, I’m good enough to provoke a response from pissed-off Hardcastle fans.

      You’re welcome to find his music marvelous. I find it boring and tedious. My opinion is equally valid as yours.


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