John Farnham has been a huge force in the Australian music scene for decades, though he's little known in the United States. After going the garage band and cabaret route in the 1960s, he joined the Little River Band as lead vocalist in the early '80s.
"Whispering Jack," first released in 1986, was his spectacular return to solo performing. There was a wonderful VHS from his "Jack's Back Tour" that everyone in New Zealand and Australia wore out at least once; the one heartbreak is that the most fabulous performance on the VHS was "Amazing Grace," which was NOT one of the tracks on the audio version. I'd give anything to see that performance again -- and if I were in Australia I COULD since "Whispering Jack (20th Anniversary CD / DVD Edition)" was released there in late 2006 -- but right now I can't play PAL format and that's all I've been able to find.
Still, the CD delights me, even without "Amazing Grace." Yes, I replaced the audio tape with the CD and still listen to it almost every week. The haunting and challenging "You're the Voice" is the showpiece, but "No One Comes Close" always rocks me ("Of all the lovers I've ever known, you stand alone / No one comes close to you"), as does "Touch of Paradise."
Farnham's vocals stand the test of time. As for the production, there's a hint of mid-'80s garage band flamboyance about it -- and why not? That's the reality of it. But every note, every chord of this CD is special to me still.
Linda Bulger, 2008