by Joe Viglione
For Bobby Hebb's first album of the new millennium, executive producer Rüdiger Ladwig wanted to create something that would be unique and new to the veteran's dedicated worldwide fan base -- an overview of the songwriter/performer's career, generating a different sound with European musicians. It's an effective move similar to Gordon Haskell's reinvention on the Road to Harry's Bar live DVD. Recorded in Germany the week that the Iraq War began in March of 2003, and originally titled Midnight Adventures by Hebb, the music sounds like an antidote to the troubling situation that was brewing just a few countries away. But that's the positive attribute of the masterpiece that is "Sunny," here in duet form with vocalist Astrid North, one of two duets tracked at the sessions (the second is available only on the CD single, with Pat Appleton singing in French). Producer Ladwig keeps a very controlled sound throughout the disc, his ingenuity coming from the song selection and his history as a Hebb fan. There's a remake of the lost Philips single "Bound by Love," one of the many follow-ups to the original "Sunny" (which stays close to the original), and a quite wonderful cover of the G. Love & Special Sauce nugget "Willow Tree." "Cold Cold Night" is a treat and another "lost classic," if you will. Hebb wrote this with Phil Medley, co-author of "Twist and Shout," and it has stayed obscure until this release. Hebb sings the material as if he wrote it yesterday, a fresh synergy provided by the very competent new faces with whom he recorded the tracks. The direction is removed from the soulful stir of Love Games, the 1970 release on Epic, and is less pop than the original 1966 Sunny album. There are new versions of "A Satisfied Mind" -- Hebb's other 1966 Top 40 U.S. hit -- and the British chart entry "Love Love Love" from 1972, while "Don't Tear Me Down" has essentially the same groove that made "Love Love Love" such a favorite, and it could easily break in that Northern soul arena where Hebb is hugely popular. The CD single has an intriguing Dr. Rubberfunk remix of the title track and is worth seeking out as well. That's All I Wanna Know is a fine chapter from a meticulous craftsman with a huge unreleased catalog, and a good argument to start getting those other albums off the shelf and into circulation.