| In the Spotlight |
BJ. Thomas responded to his early-1980s ostracism from Contemporary Christian Music with a string of chart-topping country songs extolling family values and the simple life, thus proving himself as resilient and adaptable as he was talented. Until the release, however, of New Looks and Old Fashioned Love: The Best of B.J. Thomas (Razor & Tie), this phase of Mr. Thomas's career remained undocumented, to the impoverishment of Christians, who could've learned from it how to translate biblical spirituality into the language of middle-American popular culture, and those who simply value that vanishing breed: the interpretive pop singer. Mr. Thomas has never let his position in the middle of the road keep him from traveling it to places that the bigger stars tend to regard as fly-over country. It's fitting, then, that New Looks salvages not only Mr. Thomas's '80 s hits but also seven songs from his 1986 collection of country standards, Night Life. His versions of "My Elusive Dreams," "Make the World Go Away," and "He'll Have to Go" must be special-they make his duet with Dusty Springfield (on the theme from Growing Pains) feel anti-climactic.