Tag: Compilation

The Bobby Fuller Four – Never to Be Forgotten: The Mustang Years

ARTIST: The Bobby Fuller Four

fuller

TITLE: Never to Be Forgotten: The Mustang Years

YEAR RELEASED: Compilation

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: Wolfman, Take My Word, Let Her Dance (#133), Never to Be Forgotten, I Fought the Law (#9), Love’s Made a Fool of You (#26), The Magic Touch (#117), It’s Love, Come What May

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Probably Not.

LINEUP: Bobby Fuller, Randy Fuller, Jim Reese, DeWayne Quirico. A few tracks had Dalton Powell or John Barbata drumming in place of Quirico.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Collection from a beloved garage band with surprisingly small chart history.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Bobby Fuller and his group would still be known for their version of “I Fought the Law” had he not been murdered (Suicide? Nope) in mysterious circumstances in 1966. But that death has given Fuller and The Bobby Fuller Four a name beyond their chart history.

They deserved more of a chart presence than one Top 10 and another Top 30. “Let Her Dance” made waves in LA, but not nationally, and “Never to be Forgotten” is probably their best track (and one of the great hidden gems of the 60’s). And unlike other groups of the 60’s, they rarely covered tracks – even on both of their albums. It just so happened that “I Fought the Law” was a cover that their original producer in El Paso thought would be a good fit for them. (“I Fought the Law” was originally by the Crickets, who kept playing after Buddy Holly passed.)

This collection is their Mustang Records recordings, after they moved to LA and made the scene there. It covers their entire catalog (singles and albums) and includes a live set that was going to be released but was withdrawn (and really, it’s just not so great – though they were a fun live band). While there is some filler (their first album was partly a drag racing album due to a radio station’s wishes), many of the cuts are decent enough and with the strong singles it’s a good collection for 60’s rock fans.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: After Bobby died, his brother Randy tried to keep the band going as the Randy Fuller Four.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE B+: There’s a lot here, and that may be too much for some, but they’re surprisingly deep for a band with a couple of albums.

The Embarassment – Heyday 1979-83

ARTIST: The Embarassment heyday

TITLE: Heyday 1979-83

YEAR RELEASED: Compilation

CHART ACTION: Hahahahah, you’re joking right?

SINGLES: Sex Drive

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Well, those who know, know.

LINEUP: John Nichols, Ronnie Klaus, Brent Giessmann, Bill Goffrier

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Obscure Wichita (yep, Wichita) band recorded some great, literate, witty new wave-ish songs that trickled out enough that they developed a cult following.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: A bunch of nerdy looking college kids from Wichita formed a band, wrote smart / smart ass lyrics and developed a small yet lovingly rabid following. They released material on singles and sent them to compilations (including two very early Sub Pop cassettes) that found its way to some influential critics and taste makers who loved their take on jangly guitar rock and bent lyrics.

Examples? “Sex Drive” – about guys that you knew in high school that cruised for chicks in their Trans Ams; “Patio Set” – a love song to lawn furniture; “Celebrity Art Party” – where Art Carney attended the ‘narcissistic party’; “Berliner’s Night Out” – which describers a German guy getting ready for a date; and “Lifespan”- giving a mathematical equation to living and saying “if you drive, don’t drive” then going somewhere else.

Not to say that everything is top-class or first-rate. This collects nearly everything they did in those years, and there were some songs that weren’t as well developed or documented for the sake of documentation, and not release. But for those “Hip and Well Read”, this is a nice treasure that still brings smiles to faces.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: They recorded an album in 1989 (also recording some of this material again), and have reunited periodically.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

 GRADE A-: It’s a big compilation that may be much for those who just want to dip their toes into them, but it’s well worth spinning at least once.

Misfits – Misfits

ARTIST: Misfits 220px-Misfits_-_Misfits_(Collection_I)_cover

TITLE: Misfits (a/k/a Collection 1)

YEAR RELEASED: Compilation

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: Bullet, Horror Business, Night of the Living Dead, Die Die My Darling

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Where Eagles Dare

LINEUP: Glenn Danzig, Jerry Only. The majority of tracks were with Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein or Bobby Steele on guitar, and Arthur Googy on drums.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Probably the best place to start for the Misfits.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Thank goodness cooler heads prevailed, and the Misfits early catalog is available now. This is probably the best collection of that material – as it chose the strongest material and most seminal work.

The Misfits legal docket and personnel problems are probably longer and more complex than about any other band from that era. That caused their catalog to be intermittently available, albums to be unreleased, and tracks re-recorded with other musicians in some instances.

This is the Misfits in their more punk rock / horror punk phase than anything they did later, and while the tunes are a bit same-same as you move along, there’s some essential stuff like “Bullet” and “Die Die My Darling” that was so influential to bands that followed.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: There are two other collections, Legacy of Brutality and Collection II, which have other early Misfits material, though they have more of the re-recorded material when Danzig was trying to keep the royalties to himself.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No, but there was a box set available with all of the early Misfits tracks.

GRADE B. Not always recorded in the best fidelity, and sometimes they repeat themselves, but for those wanting to know what the deal was about the Misfits, here is the stuff you need to hear.

Rare Earth – The Very Best of Rare Earth

ARTIST: Rare Earth  very best of rare earth

TITLE: The Very Best of Rare Earth

YEAR RELEASED: Compilation

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: Top 40: Get Ready (#4), (I Know) I’m Losing You (#7), Born to Wander (#17), I Just Want to Celebrate (#7), Hey Big Brother (#19), Warm Ride (#39)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: No

LINEUP: Gil Bridges, Eddie Guzman, Peter Hoorelbeke, Ray Monette, Kenny James, John Persh. Then Mark Olson and Mike Urso joined, and then it became a chore to keep track of who’s who.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: The first hit-making white band on Motown released some catchy tracks (mostly written by others) but really went crazy on the LONG album versions like they were Iron Butterfly or something.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Rare Earth was not the first white Motown artist, but they were the first to have a hit. They were a Detroit band that was signed after a failed album on Verve (which also had a version of “Get Ready”).

“Get Ready”, a hit for the Temptations and written by Smokey Robinson, was their first Motown single and became a bigger hit for them. The album version was over 21 minutes long! (Holy padding out the record, Batman) And it was just a lot of noodling and jamming for no reason except the tape was rolling. That was a shame, because they had a chance to be tight and funky, but they rambled on and on…

“I Just Want to Celebrate” is their best known track, and it wasn’t an overly long version on the album (just in concert, because why not…)earth tones

That was the story for their early career. Cover a Motown song, and jam forever (so it seems), and profit (?). When they decided to record their own material in 1972, they still jammed for way too long. Oh, but when they did their own stuff, the hits dried up (until 1978 and they got one scraped in at #39). There’s a reason for that.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Drummer Peter Hoorelbeke (Pete Rivera back in the day) was the lead singer for the most part. 20th century rare earth

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: You can get collections with the LONG versions. Be my guest.

GRADE C. At their best, they were tight and funky with catchy tunes. That happened so rarely, as it were.

The Temptations – Psychedelic Soul

ARTIST: The Temptations psychedelic soul

TITLE: Psychedelic Soul

YEAR RELEASED: Compilation

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: Cloud Nine (#6 US, #2 R&B), Runaway Child, Running Wild (#6 US, #1 R&B), Don’t Let the Jones Get You Down (#20 US, #2 R&B), I Can’t Get Next to You (#1 US, #1 R&B, #13 UK), Psychedelic Shack (#7 US, #2 R&B, #33 UK), Ball of Confusion (That’s What the World Is Today) (#3 US, #2 R&B, #7 UK), Ungena Za Ulimwengu (Unite the World) (#33 US, #8 R&B), Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me) (#1 US, #1 R&B, #8 UK), Superstar (Remember How You Got Where You Ar) (#18 US, #8 R&B, #32 UK), Papa Was a Rolling Stone (#1 US, #5 R&B, #14 UK), Masterpiece (#7 US, #1 R&B), Plastic Man (#40 US, #8 R&B)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: They did versions of War, Friendship Train and Smiling Faces Sometimes

LINEUP: Otis Williams, Melvin Franklin, Paul Williams, Eddie Kendrick and David Edwards were the ‘classic five’. Richard Street replaced Paul Williams in 1970.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: The Norman Whitfield era of the Temptations features multi-lead vocals, and funky, funky grooves from the Funk Brothers, who were allowed to jam on the album cuts.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The music world was changing, while the Motown Sound was stagnant. The Temptations were one of the first Motown acts to ‘modernize’, as they chose producer Norman Whitfield, who along with Barrett Strong wrote some great socially conscious songs, and Whitfield used the Funk Brothers to jam like crazy as well.

This collection grabs the album cuts, which can range up to over 12 minutes long (that’s one way to fill out an album side!), and while it is jamming it’s the Funk Brothers, so it’s not pointless noodling. They also did a few tracks made famous by other Motown artists to put the Psychedelic Soul spin on them. (“Friendship Train” just cooks.)

This era of the Temptations did have a few ballads (“Just My Imagination”) but most of it was funky, funky music. Those tracks allowed each of the Temps to shine as soloists in songs, and gave them a unique sound in soul and funk.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The Temps revolted a bit in 1973 due to the long, long tracks that Whitfield kept recording. He was let go, and starting in 1974 they went back to shorter tracks.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No.

GRADE A+ Even with the long tracks, there’s no filler. Can you dig it?

The Temptations – Gold

ARTIST: The Temptations R-980461-1422001297-1914.jpeg

TITLE: Gold (Originally Released as My Girl: The Very Best of the Temptations)

YEAR RELEASED: Compilation

CHART ACTION: #167

SINGLES: Top 10 Pop: My Girl (#1 US, #1 R&B, #43 UK), Beauty Is Only Skin Deep (#3 US, #1 R&B, #18 UK), (I Know) I’m Losing You (#8 US, #1 R&B, #19 UK), All I Need (#8 US, #2 R&B), You’re My Everything (#6 US, #3 R&B). I Wish It Would Rain (#4 US, #1 R&B, #45 UK), Cloud Nine (#6 US, #2 R&B), I’m Gonna Make You Love Me (#2 US, #2 R&B, #3 UK), Runaway Child, Running Wild (#6 US, #1 R&B), I Can’t Get Next to You (#1 US, #1 R&B, #13 UK), Psychedelic Shack (#7 US, #2 R&B, #33 UK), Ball of Confusion (That’s What the World Is Today) (#3 US, #2 R&B, #7 UK), Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me) (#1 US, #1 R&B, #8 UK), Papa Was a Rolling Stone (#1 US, #5 R&B, #14 UK), Masterpiece (#7 US, #1 R&B)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: The Way You Do The Things You Do, Get Ready, Ain’t Too Proud to Beg

LINEUP: Otis Williams, Melvin Franklin, Paul Williams, Eddie Kendrick and David Ruffin were the ‘classic five’. Al Bryant was in the group very early on. Dennis Edwards replaced Ruffin. Richard Street replaced Paul Williams. Damon Harris replaced Kendrick. Others filtered in and out. Otis Williams is the only consistent member.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: The commercial gold standard of Motown vocal groups rolled with changes in producers and styles (sometimes not too quietly) and dominated charts for over a decade.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: It’s not the songs you know and hear all of the time. It’s tracks like “Beauty Is Only Skin Deep”, “Get Ready”, “Superstar (Remember How You Got Where You Are”), and “Shakey Ground” that makes the Temptations one of the most popular vocal groups of all time.

Going from a typical Motown sound towards the “Psychedelic Soul” era without a hitch (except internally) showed their versatility. They took the losses of personnel without much of an issue. The backing of the Motown session musicians also was top notch, and the songs were memorable. You know this, no doubt, but the deeper cuts are where you realize that behind the Miracles, the Temptations ruled the Motown era (no dis to the Four Tops…or anyone else).

This collection storms through the big singles from 1962 through their last Motown hits in the 90’s, including a memorable side with Rick James. But their last singles aren’t as memorable, as the 90’s production doesn’t suit them. That’s the only blip here.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: There’s another Temptations compilation that has the long (and I mean long) cuts from their Psychedelic Soul era, and I’m going to review that one too.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No. There’s been larger comps, but this pretty much hits everything.

GRADE A: A few of the later cuts are disposable, but most of this stuff is essential.

The Creation – Our Music Is Red – With Purple Flashes

ARTIST: The Creation creation

TITLE: Our Music Is Red – With Purple Flashes

YEAR RELEASED: Compilation

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: Making Time (#49 UK), Painter Man (#36 UK), Cool Jerk, If I Stay Too Long, Life Is Just Beginning, How Does It Feel to Feel, Midway Down, Bony Moronie, For All That I Am

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Biff Bang Pow

LINEUP: Kenny Pickett, Eddie Phillips, Bob Garner, Jack Jones. Kim Gardner replaced Pickett (Bob Garner went to vocals). Then, after a hiatus, Pickett, Gardner, Jones, and Ron Wood (!) resumed their career for a few months.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Garage / psychedelic UK rock band influenced a smattering of musicians, and introduced Jimmy Page to the idea of playing a guitar with a bow. .

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The song “Making Time” alone, with that fantastic opening guitar riff, is enough to warrant the Creation a mention in rock and roll annals. The fact that Eddie Phillips played the guitar solo with a bow makes it legendarily influential. “Painter Man”, another great single, followed, and the Creation were on their way…to oblivion.

First, they replaced Kenny Pickett as vocalist with  bassist Bob Garner, and brought Kim Gardner as bassist. They then covered a couple of American hits instead of focusing on their originals, and lost momentum, even with originals like “I Am the Walker” and “How Does It Feel to Feel” (here in two versions as they released different mixes for the US and UK). The US version of the latter song has great feedback (ala the Who), while the UK version is heavier on the drums.

By 1968, they were no more after a breakup, a rebirth (for the European market) and a final death (with Ron Wood on guitar as he was part of the Birds with Kim Gardner). However, they influenced Page, Paul Weller, Pete Townshend, and various punk and shoegaze bands. That’s why a collection like this is so necessary – to explore the roots of music we all know.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The label Creation Records was named in honor of them.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yeah, there are different mixes on a new version of this comp.

 GRADE A-: Yeah, there are a few covers I threw out, but this is vital stuff. It’s rawness paved the way for bands to eschew polish and blast it out.

Carly Simon – Anthology

ARTIST: Carly Simon 220px-CarlySimonAnthologyAlbum

TITLE: Anthology

YEAR RELEASED: Compilation

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: Top 20: That’s the Way I’ve Always Heard It Should Be (#10 US), Anticipation (#13 US), You’re So Vain (#1 US, #3 UK), The Right Thing to Do (#17 US, #17 UK), Mockingbird (#5 US, #34 UK), Haven’t Got Time for the Pain (#14 US), Nobody Does It Better (#2 US, #7 UK), You Belong to Me (#6 US), Jesse (#11 US), Coming Around Again (318 US, #10 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Nah, unless you are a big fan.

LINEUP: Carly Simon and session players, sometimes she sang with her ex-husband James Taylor.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Pretty complete overview of the highlights of Simon’s career.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: She came out of privilege in New York (Simon & Schuster? Yeah, Simon’s her dad), yet she connected easily with audiences since she sang about love, loss, and family (functional and dysfunctional).

Musically, her songs have twists and turns, changing from minor to major keys with ease. Her voice is well-matched for her material and great for show tunes and standards. The one downgrade is that after the 70’s, she seemed to chase trends in production on her mainstream albums, and her genre-themed albums didn’t quite have the song selection or originality she once exhibited.

This collection hits all of the 70’s high points and does a pretty decent job of picking through her 80’s and 90’s material, and for non-rabid fans it’s well worth the streams.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: This isn’t streaming but you can put it together, since the other compilations miss some key tracks. Though three soundtrack cuts aren’t streaming on any platform. She also suffers from stage fright – so much so she pre-taped her one SNL performance.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE A-: Listening this made me realize the depth of her career and how much more she was to pop culture than “You’re So Vain”.

Poco – The Essential Poco

ARTIST: Poco  The_Essential_Poco

TITLE:  The Essential Poco

YEAR RELEASED: Compilation

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: Charting: You Better Think Twice (#72), C’Mon (#69), Just for Me and You (#110), Crazy Love (#17), Heart of the Night (#20), Shoot for the Moon (#50), Call It Love (#18), Nothing to Hide (#39)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW:  Pickin’ Up the Pieces, Kind Woman

LINEUP:  Originally: Richie Furay, Rusty Young, Jim Messina, George Grantham, Randy Meisner. Timothy B. Schmit replaced Meisner. Paul Cotton replaced Messina. Cotton and Young were around with Charlie Harrison, Steve Chapman, and Kim Bullard when they had their first two Top 40 hits. The original band came back for their last two hits. Rock never dies.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: One of the original country-rock bands (taking cues from the Byrds and the Flying Burrito Brothers) was mega-hyped thanks to their Buffalo Springfield connections, but never found the sweet spot the Eagles did.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Trouble began early for Poco, when Randy Meisner quit the band right after the sessions for the first album were done and a dog was airbrushed into the album cover. The band never really recovered, though they keep plugging along.

Richie Furay and Jim Messina were supposed to be the meal tickets, thanks to their involvement with Buffalo Springfield, but it turned out Rusty Young and Messina’s replacement Paul Cotton kept the band going and more or less shaped their sound which became more country as time went on. Soon the band became more middle-of-the-road than anything else, a big disappointment from what was expected in 1969.

Poco’s work never found the niche where country-rock would work, and they either jammed too long or took the edge off too much. Only a few tracks rose above the rest, and this collection hits the high marks for the most part.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The original group got back together (if Little Feat could do it without their most important member, why not an intact Poco?)  and got their second-biggest hit out of it.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No.

GRADE: B:  It’s a solid collection from a band that was called “the most overrated underrated band” by Robert Christgau. That hits home.

Be Bop Deluxe – Air Age Anthology

ARTIST: Be Bop Deluxe bebop

TITLE:  Air Age Anthology

YEAR RELEASED: Compilation

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: Their only charting single was Ships in the Night (#23 UK).

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW:  Not here, maybe if you were in the UK in the 70’s

LINEUP:  Bill Nelson. Charlie Tumahai, Simon Fox, and Andrew Clarke were on almost all of their albums. Robert Bryan, Nicholas Chatterton-Drew, and Ian Parkin were on the first album.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Glam-to-progressive rock band led by Bill Nelson, a guitar legend for many UK new-wavers.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Be Bop Deluxe isn’t well known here, and mostly forgotten in the UK. Initially more glam rock than anything (their first album could be called Be Bop Deluxe Are the Spiders from Mars), Nelson broke up the entire band when it was noted they were really aping Bowie more than anything. He was then determined to create a more progressive and experimental band.

He never quite moved out of being labeled a Bowie sound-alike, as his sound was very much in line with the glam-era Bowie, but the next band he put together really tried to balance progressive rock with pop sensibilities. It’s tough, and only on a few cuts do they truly succeed in writing a song balanced between the pop chart and art rock.

But this is a band with serious chops (Nelson is an ace guitar player) and the ability to carry out Nelson’s musical ideas. He was (and still is) a chameleon in terms of style and influence, and always tried to stay ahead of the game. This is definitely worth a listen or three for progressive rock fans who also liked glam.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: They gained a following in the UK, with four UK Top 25 albums (including a live album at #10).

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No. There are smaller comps but this band needs a more grandiose overview.

GRADE: B:  For fans of progressive and glam guitarists. Docked a plus due to nutty sequencing.