' debut was a huge hit and widely acclaimed, at least among industry professionals (critics didn't give it a second listen), leading to multi-platinum success and Grammys. In retrospect, it might seem like the kind of success that's disproportional to the record itself, especially to hipper-than-thou younger generations, but in truth, Christopher Cross
was a hell of a record -- it just was a hell of a soft rock record, something that doesn't carry a lot of weight among most audiences. That doesn't erase Cross
' considerable gifts as a craftsman. Yes, he does favor sentimentality and can be very sweet on the ballads, but his melodicism is rich and construction tight, so there's a sturdy foundation for the classy professional gloss provided by his studio pros and friends, including indelible backing vocals by Michael McDonald
. And while the hits like the dreamy "Sailing" and the surging "Ride Like the Wind" deserved all the attention, they're hardly the only highlights here -- to borrow a sports metaphor, this has a deep bench, and there's not a weak moment here. In fact, soft rock albums hardly ever came better than this, and it remains one of the best mainstream albums of its time.