Voices: The Best Songs from Russ Ballard (EMI import)

Russ Ballard

By Allen Howie

Russ Ballard has a triple claim to fame. With the British group Argent, he wrote, sang and played guitar on hits like "Hold Your Head Up." He's also the writer behind hits like "You Can Do Magic" and "The Border" for America, ''Liar" for Three Dog Night and "Winning" for Santana. And he's made solid albums of his own, with one of his tunes, "Voices," used in an episode of Miami Vice.

This collection tries to cover all the bases on a single disc, and while it misses some key moments (two of his best Epic albums, At the Third Stoke and Russ Ballard & the Barnet Dogs, aren't represented at all), it's a good overview of Ballard's career to date. Highlights among the 16 songs here include the rattle and hum of "Voices," the crunchy pop of "A Woman Like You," searing rockers like "I Can't Hear You No More" and "Two Silhouettes," plus Argent tracks like the aforementioned "Hold Your Head Up" and the band's own snarling rendition of "Liar," which easily outstrips the hit version. Also included are Ballard's own original takes on songs like "Winning" and "God Gave Rock and Roll to You.''

Also out now is a CD single with three new Ballard tunes, ample proof that his muse is strong as ever.