ABBA – The Essential Collection

ARTIST: ABBA                                      51shnmk3ERL._SX425_

TITLE: The Essential Collection

YEAR RELEASED: Compilation


SINGLES: Top 20: Waterloo (#6 US, #1 UK), I Do I Do I Do I Do I Do (#15 US, #38 UK), SOS (#15 US, #6 UK), Mamma Mia (#32 US, #1 UK), Fernando (#13 US, #1 UK), Dancing Queen (#1 US, #1 UK), Money Money Money (#56 US, #3 UK), Knowing Me Knowing You (#14 US, #1 UK), The Name of the Game (#12 US, #1 UK), Take a Chance on Me (#3 US, #1 UK), Chiquitita (#29 US, #2 UK), Summer Night City (#5 UK), Does Your Mother Know (#19 US, #4 UK), Voluez-Vouz (#80 US, #3 UK), Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (#3 UK), I Have a Dream (#2 UK), The Winner Takes It All (#8 US, #1 UK), Super Trouper (#45 US, #1 UK), Lay All Your Love On Me (#7 UK), One of Us (#107 US, #3 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Ring Ring, The Visitors

LINEUP: Agnetha Fältskog, Anni-Frid Lyngstad (Frida), Benny Andersson, Björn Ulvaeus. Session dudes, of course.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: It’s ABBA – the international pop music sensation that’s still a juggernaut today.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: It’s almost like I don’t need to review this – you know most of the songs and the ones you don’t are just as memorable – probably.

Their regular albums were spotty (though “Hey Hey Helen” kicks it good), as they really focused on singles. The first four tracks here were from their debut (Ring Ring) and the rest follow from their Eurovision victory (“Waterloo”) and beyond. They started to slow down in the US (but not in the UK, really) when they called it quits

They’re pretty inescapable now, thanks to movies and musicals and what not. They constructed pretty much perfect pop singles – despite what you think of them you have to give them credit for that.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: They were the first Eurovision winner to sing in a language other than their native country.


 GRADE A-: It’s one of the best comps out there for ABBA.


AC / DC – Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap

ARTIST: AC / DC                                                                220px-Dirty_Deeds_Done_Dirt_Cheap_(ACDC_album_-_cover_art0

TITLE: Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap

YEAR RELEASED: 1976 (except for the US, where it was 1981)

CHART ACTION: #3 (finally, in 1981). Top 5 in Australia!

SINGLES: Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap (#4 Mainstream, #47 UK), Love at First Feel, Ride On. Jailbreak was on the Aussie album and hit #10 there.

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Big Balls, Problem Child

LINEUP: Bon Scott, Angus Young, Malcolm Young, Mark Evans, Phil Rudd

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Now a classic piece of wax, this was passed over by their US record company until AC/DC became too big to ignore.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Somehow, the geniuses at Atlantic Records thought an album “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” and “Problem Child” wasn’t worth releasing. Well, that wasn’t too bright was it? 220px-ACDC_Dirty_Deeds_Done_Dirt_Cheap_Aus_Front

Sure, some of the filler is definitely filler, and “Big Balls” is fine for 12-year olds everywhere, but there’s enough good stuff here to forgive some of the puerile stuff. Most of the tracks rock despite the cringe on your face, and it’s all in good fun, innit?

The Australian version and the International / US Version had some big differences, and really the latter version flows better but loses two good tracks and adds just one.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The International Version added “Love at First Feel” (a plus) and “Rocker” (meh) and loses “RIP (Rock In Peace)” and “Jailbreak” (both minuses).

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No unless you count the two versions.

 GRADE B: Any record with “Problem Child” gets an upgrade!

Robert Palmer – The Very Best of the Island Years

ARTIST: Robert Palmer            palmer

TITLE: The Very Best of the Island Years

YEAR RELEASED: Compilation


SINGLES: Top 40: Every Kinda People (#16 US, #53 UK), Bad Case of Loving You (Doctor, Doctor) (#14 US, #61 UK), Looking for Clues (#105 US, #33 UK), Some Guys Have All the Luck (#59 Mainstream, #16 UK), Addicted to Love (#1 US, #1 Mainstream, #5 UK), Hyperactive (#33 US, #21 Mainstream), I Didn’t Mean to Turn You On (#2 US, #3 Mainstream, #9 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Man Smart Woman Smarter, Johnny and Mary. Simply Irresistible is here as a live track.

LINEUP: Robert Palmer. Early on he had help from the Meters and Little Feat then played with all kinds of session musicians

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A pretty complete overview of the best tracks from the UK singer that goes through all of his twists and turns.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Starting out as a blue-eyed soul with a tinge of reggae singer (the first three tracks here are the first three from his debut album and show off all of the styles), then moving towards pop, album rock, new wave, and finally the huge arena rock sound, Robert Palmer was definitely a chameleon.

Palmer’s career was up-and-down for the longest time until he formed the Power Station with refugees from Duran Duran and Chic. That success catapulted him into stardom, and his Riptide album, with “Addicted to Love” cashed in big time.

Still, Palmer’s albums were inconsistent, and hearing “Man Smart Woman Smarter”, you can’t really think it’s the same guy who sang “Bad Case of Loving You”, or “Johnny and Mary”. But he is.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: A lot of the other compilations are ‘remixed’ and those remixes were…not good. And after Riptide, his stuff declined.


GRADE B+: There’s some great stuff here, but it feels like product for the most part. Good product, but product just the same.

Peter Gabriel – Peter Gabriel 2: Scratch

ARTIST: Peter Gabriel                        220px-Peter_Gabriel_(self-titled_album,_1978_-_cover_art)

TITLE: Peter Gabriel : Scratch





LINEUP: Peter Gabriel, Robert Fripp, Tony Levin, Roy Bittan, Larry Fast, Jerry Marotta, Sid McGinnis, Todd Cochran, George Marge, Tim Cappello

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Second solo album from Gabriel is a collaboration with Robert Fripp in terms of sound and structure.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Peter Gabriel and Robert Fripp made an interesting combo. Fripp at the time, as both a producer and performer, was heavily into sequences and his “Frippertronics”, while Gabriel’s penchant for arty rock was allowed free reign with Fripp. The result is an intriguing album, more progressive than pop, and not one to convert the masses to either Fripp or Gabriel.

“On the Air” and “DIY” are relatively straight forward, with “DIY” being a tribute to the punk scene that threatened Gabriel and his progressive rock movement. After that, Gabriel and Fripp move away towards various styles and mostly hearkens back to the some of the deep cuts in Genesis.

While worthy, it doesn’t stand up as well as other Gabriel solo albums in his early phase, and is usually regarded as the lesser one, though it was the most ambitious.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Allegedly, this album was part of a trilogy with albums by Fripp and Daryl Hall. The shelving of Hall’s Fripp-produced album put paid to that idea.


 GRADE B: It just leaves one cold a bit, and the production seems a bit flat for all of the experimentation.

Tommy Roe – The Original ABC Recordings

ARTIST: Tommy Roe                  R-3729532-1486769683-9449.jpeg

TITLE: Greatest Hits – The Original ABC Hit Recordings

YEAR RELEASED: Compilation


SINGLES: Top 40: Sheila (#1 US, #3 UK), The Folk Singer (#84 US, #4 UK), Everybody (#3 US, #9 UK), Come On (#36 US), Sweet Pea (#8 US), Hooray for Hazel (#6 US), It’s Now Winter’s Day (#23 US), Dizzy (#1 US, #1 UK), Heather Honey (#29 US, #24 UK), Jam Up and Jelly Tight (#8 US), Stagger Lee (#25 US)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Nah, the rest charted pretty low.

LINEUP: Tommy Roe and various sessioneers

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A compilation of the 60’s pop singer who survived through the many changes of the pop scene and kept having hits every couple of years.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: One thing that strikes you about Tommy Roe’s career is that there were three phases of his success. First it was 1963-64, then a comeback in 1966-67, then a final comeback in 1969 to 1970. Each time the style was a bit different, but they were all Tommy Roe composed and all fit in with the pop vernacular at the time.

The other striking thing is that as lightweight as the songs seem to be, they keep coming back as samples (the drum breaks, especially, and the organ sound). Then, the complexity of the songs will surprise you (“Dizzy” has 11 key changes and is in four keys overall).

These 18 tracks really do give an overview of pure AM radio pop in the 60’s and is surprising durable. Roe was never an album artist, but pumped out four or so singles a year, and when one hit, then they collected up an album from sessions.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: This compilation goes through 1971, but he kept cranking out singles for a few years after with little success.


 GRADE A-: A load of earworms here.

Built to Spill – The Normal Years

ARTIST: Built to Spill                  The_Normal_Years

TITLE: The Normal Years



SINGLES: Most of them were singles


LINEUP: Doug Martsch on all cuts. Andy Capps, Brett Netson, Brett Nelson, Ned Evett, and others appear on these cuts.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: K Records took all of the leftovers from Built to Spill and put this out before they hopped to a major label. It smacks of odds-and-sods.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Singles, B-sides, compilation tracks, etc. etc. It’s the usual compilation for an indie band who moves record companies. There’s good stuff, and…other stuff.

The opening cut “So & So & So & So from Wherever Wherever” starts out the collection in a promising way, with some heavily distorted and de-tuned guitars adding a crunch. A couple tracks are early versions of songs that found their way on their early albums.

You go in not expect much, and it’s just fine. There are some little gems here for the casual fans. The converted has this, no doubt, but it’s not high on their BTS rotation.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: There is a cover of a song by K Records won Daniel Johnson.


GRADE C+: It’s not bad, really, for what it is. It’s not where you start, though.

Armageddon – Armageddon

ARTIST: Armageddon             Armageddon_(Armageddon_album)

TITLE: Armageddon




OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Oh, heck to the no

LINEUP: Keith Relf, Martin Pugh, Bobby Caldwell, Louis Cennamo

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Keith Relf’s post-Reinassance band veered him pretty solidly into prog. It was disappointing on all fronts.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Combining Keith Relf, two blokes from Steamhammer and drummer Bobby Caldwell, Armageddon took flight and promptly crashed.

Relf’s harmonica skills seem a bit out of place, and some tracks just meander along on a repetitive riff, and others meander along with jammy proggy excess. Only a couple of tracks rise to the occasion on the dividing line between exile and a catalog slot.

This is a shame, as Relf, though he was not-at-all-well, still had some vocal prowess (though emphysema due to asthma soon took care of that), and Martin Pugh had done yeoman’s work as a studio player. But it didn’t cohere, and didn’t ring the cash register, either.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: They only played two live gigs, and couldn’t tour as Relf got sicker and couldn’t sing for an extended show.


GRADE C+: “Buzzard” keeps me from chucking it all.

Heart – Little Queen

ARTIST: Heart                                              Little_Queen_Heart

TITLE: Little Queen



SINGLES: Barracuda (#11), Little Queen (#62), Kick it Out (#79), Love Alive

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Probably not unless you had this

LINEUP: Ann Wilson, Nancy Wilson, Roger Fisher, Howard Leese, Steve Fossen, Michael DeRosier

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: The Wilson sisters and band rush released this album to capitalize on their monster hit, and it’s a diverse mix of rock, folk, and prog.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Though Magazine was to be their official second album, Ann and Nancy Wilson were rightfully angry at their record company for some shenanigans, resulting in the song “Barracuda”, a change in record company, and the old company releasing Magazine as a half-done, half-baked album.

A longer story ensues, needless to say this is the proper second album and I’m skipping Magazine for good reason.

Though most of their radio hits were hard rockin’, this second album picks up a lot of folk elements from their first, and even extends them into prog territory thanks to multi-everything Howard Leese. The diversity is impressive and instrumentally, they can pull it off.

Yet, showing some strain and some rushed out tracks, not everything works well. The second side especially shows some dreaded filler. It’s still a good record, but could have been better had they had time.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: They won a court order that allowed this album to be released, and they re-mixed Magazine as best they could.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, a version with a demo version and a live cut from 1976.

GRADE B+: Some interesting arrangements and good rock-and-roll, but some filler drags it down.

Slade – Greatest Hits

ARTIST: Slade               slade

TITLE: Greatest Hits

YEAR RELEASED: Compilation


SINGLES: All of em: Of Note: Coz I Luv You (#1 UK), Look Wot You Done (#4 UK), Take Me Back ‘Ome (*97 US, #1 UK), Mama Weer All Crazee Now (#76 US, #1 UK), Gudbuy T’Jane (#68 US, #2 UK), Cum On Feel the Noize (#98 US, #1 UK), Skweeze Me, Pleeze Me (#1 UK), My Friend Stan (#2 UK), Merry Xmas Everybody (#1 UK), Everyday (#3 UK), The Bangin’ Man (#3 UK), Far Far Away (#2 UK), My Oh My (#37 US, #3 UK), Run Runaway (#20 US, #7 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Not unless you were in the UK and were a Slade-head

LINEUP: Noddy Holder, Jim Lea, Dave Hill, Don Powell

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Glam rockers, huge in the UK, barely made a ripple in the states until Quiet Riot covered them, and then they got their deserved hit.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Glam rock barely caused a fuss over here, except on rare occasions when singles by some artists hit the airwaves (Mott the Hoople, Sweet). No band was unjustly denied their rightful place over here more than Slade.

From mid 1971 through 1974, they released 12 singles in the UK, and every one of them hit #4 or higher, including six #1 singles. And they weren’t just copy cat hits (they did change it up a bit, honestly), they were solid songs like “Mama Weer All Crazee Now” (on a K-Tel record, even) and Gudbuy T’Jane. They ran out steam and by the punk era they were off the charts.

But they had more life in the early 80’s, as two singles hit the Top 10 again n the UK and gave the band their much deserved Top 40 hits in the US.

Sure, it’s kind of simple – memorable guitar riffs, Noddy Holder shouting about something, and the band chanting and stomping all around. What’s not to like?

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Originally, they felt the title they gave their first self-written single didn’t fit with the sound, and thus they named it “Coz I Luv You”. A career of spelling errors ensued.


GRADE A: I may have bumped this up a bit…but I mean, this is just packed with memorable shouters and bangers. What’s not to love?


Hall & Oates – Abandoned Luncheonette

ARTIST: Hall & Oates       Hall_and_Oates,_Abandoned_Luncheonette_(1973)

TITLE: Abandoned Luncheonette



SINGLES: She’s Gone (#60 US on first release; #7 US, #42 UK on re-release)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Ooh…maybe Lady Rain??

LINEUP: Daryl Hall, John Oates and session hotshots like Chris Bond, Hugh McCracken, Jerry Marotta, Steve Gelfand, Bernard Purdie, and more…

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Second album by the duo finds their sweet spot in an updated blue-eyed soul sound, with a couple of tracks not working this time.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Daryl Hall & John Oates moved from their hometown of Philly to New York to take in that scene and work with Arif Mardin on their album. Together, they crafted a sound that was the start of the classic Hall & Oates sound.

This collection is fine for the most part, with a couple of highlights like “Lady Rain”, and the all-timer “She’s Gone”. Oates had more tracks on this record than the usual release, and his tracks aren’t the weaker ones.

The record kind of goes off the rails at the end – with “Laughing Boy” kind of a messy solo performance by Hall (though he loved to play it in concert) and the final track which goes from blue-eyed soul to a…hoedown…for some reason. Well, just stop it after “Lady Rain” then.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: This is supposedly the duo’s favorite record that they did.


GRADE B+: Wow, those last two tracks derailed it. The first seven cuts were good to great to all-timer, and then…