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Chris Isaak

WHO IS HE

Singer, actor and San Francisco icon, the 58-year-old Isaak released his first album in 1984, but it wasn't until 1989's Heart Shaped World that he found stardom. Isaak regularly tours, but he's slowed down on the recording side, releasing just one album of new material in the last decade (as well as two live albums, a Christmas album and a two-disc set of Sun Records covers). So, expect a live show packed with road-tested hits.

BUY THIS ALBUM

Forever Blue is Isaak at his best. Balancing the rock 'n' roller and the crooner, Isaak delivers a set of songs that pushes the envelope, past the shadows of his influences, past the somewhat shallow success of "Wicked Game." Passionate, moody, fierce and broken, Isaak's voice handles every twist and turn of the emotional path of a lost love, with an artistry he hadn't fully achieved before.

"Go Walking Down There" bristles with fitful and jealous anger, while "Don't Leave Me On My Own" has a jaunty, south-of-the-border feel. Other highlights are the tender and folky title track, the beautiful and sorrowful closing ballad "The End of Everything" and the two essential tracks below.

ESSENTIAL TRACKS

"Wicked Game" (1991). Isaak's breakthrough song, and still his signature hit. Pushed by the impossible-to-forget black & white Helena Christensen video, "Wicked Game" peaked at No. 6. But the visuals wouldn't have worked for a moment if this wasn't one of the world's all-time sexiest songs.

"Somebody's Crying" (1995). Isaak places his delicate croon over a melodic pop-rock tune that put him in contention for a MTV Music Video Award and a Grammy, both of which he lost to Tom Petty's "You Don't Know How It Feels."

"San Francisco Days" (1993). Here's where Isaak really earned the Roy Orbison comparisons, on a timeless ode to the city where he got his start playing small clubs.

"Solitary Man" (1993). Neil Diamond sounds steely and almost confident on his classic song, but Isaak sings his version with a forlorn, haunting quality.

"Baby Did a Bad, Bad Thing" (1995). This vampy, dark rockabilly tune found an unlikely (though oddly fitting) home as the theme for Stanley Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut.

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