In Symphony: Albert Hammond (BMG)

Albert Hammond is probably not so well known by many people - but everyone will know at least one of the dozens of hit songs he has written.

Now the man whose songs have sold more than 360 million records has gone back into the studio with an orchestra to re-record some of his best- known hits with orchestral backing.

Albert, who played a solo show at Kendal's Brewery Arts Centre a couple of years ago, might be 72 but his voice is as good as ever.

The first track, his 1972 solo hit It Never Rains InSouthern California, is just as good as the original. The acoustic lilt of the song contrasts with the tough lyrics about someone who heads West to try to become a star but whose dream goes badly sour.

Also featured here is the classic The Free Electric Band, a great song about a man whose whose life has been groomed for him to join the 'system' and become a 'good, clean American' like his parents - but who gives it all up for music and life in a rock a band.

Hammond has written hits for a pantheon of stars including Celine Dion, Leo Sayer, Starship and Julio Iglesias. His version of Iglesias' hit To All The Girls I've Loved before is, in my view, better than the more famous recording.

Similarly I preferred his Don't Walk Away to the light reggae hit version by Aswad.

One or two of the numbers feature rather winsome strings and I found When I Need You and The Air That I Breathe (massive hits for Sayer and The Hollies respecrively) a bit plodding.

But overall this is a accomplished set that showcases Albert Hammond's massive talent as a songwriter and singer.

The album will be released in June.