Although Heino is most often viewed as a figure of fun outside of his native Germany, thanks to his improbably deep voice and his unique look (a helmet of perfect blonde hair and enormous black sunglasses), actually listening to one of his records without the hipster irony is a surprisingly enlightening experience. As these 16 tracks -- going all the way back to beat-group-style mid-'60s singles like "Treue Bergvagabunden" -- reveal, Heino is actually much more entertaining than the "schlagers" singers with whom he's most often lumped. Rather than the enormous orchestras and choirs that most often drown middle-of-the-road pop singers in Europe, Heino's records are recorded with a small combo and occasional horns and strings, plus occasional female vocals. (Petula Clark's classic '60s sides with Tony Hatch are a good point of comparison.) As a result, they're sprightlier than one might imagine and actually nowhere near as icky. Frankly, anyone who can listen to Wayne Newton without giggling is already more than ready to take on Heino. This collection hits most of the high points, including most of his hits, like "Blau Blüht der Enzian" and "Carnaval in Rio." None but the most obsessive will need much more than this. ~ Stewart Mason
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