Tag: Compilation

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.


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.

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.

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?


Kim Mitchell – Greatest Hits

ARTIST: Kim Mitchell                    kimmitchell

TITLE: Greatest Hits

YEAR RELEASED: Compilation


SINGLES: Most all of these songs were in Canada. He had two charting ones here: Go For Soda (#86, #12 Rock) and Patio Lanterns (#36 Rock)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Not in this country, but Canadians of an age would know most of these.

LINEUP: Kim Mitchell, Pye Dubois, and a couple of different groups of musicians depending on when.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Earnest Canadian rocker’s solo career (after a stint leading Max Webster) produced some enjoyable, but not essential, 80’s rock.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Either the Trailer Park Boys or Canadian radio stations would be the only points of entry to the world of Kim Mitchell. Perhaps, like me, you remembered “Go For Soda”, which is an enjoyable piece of rock that stood out in the 80’s because of what it wasn’t – hair metal, new wave, or new romantic.

Mitchell led Max Webster, a Canadian FM radio staple in the 70’s, before starting his solo career. This collection serves as a good overview of his peak period, and while at times he can fall into Foreigner territory (especially in the ballads – ick), his straight ahead rock songs are decent enough that won’t make you skip over the tracks.

Mitchell never got a foothold in the US, as only one LP charted here, but just go north of the border and they can remember his career fondly.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: His highest charting Canadian track was “America”, which hit #3 in 1992.


GRADE B-: I don’t have strong nostalgia for him (except “Go For Soda”), but I can see why he’s still remembered up in Canada and on their version of Classic Rock radio.

David Gray – Greatest Hits

ARTIST: David Gray                  David_Gray_Greatest_hits_Album_Cover (1)

TITLE: Greatest Hits

YEAR RELEASED: Compilation


SINGLES: Top 40: This Year’s Love (#20 UK), Babylon (#57 US, #5 UK), Please Forgive Me (#18 UK), Sail Away (#26 UK), The Other Side (#35 UK), Be Mine (#23 UK), The One I Love (#8 UK), Hospital Food (#34 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Shine (though this is live, another collection has a 25th anniversary version, which isn’t the original either. That’s on yet ANOTHER collection)

LINEUP: David Gray, Craig McClune, and others.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: This collection captures his hit making era, mostly, and it’s a decent introduction to the singer-songwriter.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: After struggling for years to make it in a more acoustic manner, producing some unheard songs for his cult, Gray moved into an electric and electronic milieu, combining electronica and lush production with his songs.

Commercially, in the UK, it was a hit. Here in the states, he’s still a cult artist. These things happen.

Gray’s got a touch for melody and sings from the heart, but while the sheen of his production may have gotten him on the radio, in my ears it sounds a bit busy and over-produced.

There’s another, later, collection which has a later version of the song that introduced him (“Shine”), and a collection of his folkier stuff (which I like “Late Night Radio”) but this is as good as you’ll get for the most part.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The British press dubbed him ‘folktronica’, though only a few songs really fit that, and that’s because it has electronic drums.


GRADE B: The cult has all of his records, but for me, this is about all I need.

Great White – Greatest Hits

ARTIST: Great White              GreatWhiteGreatestHits

TITLE: Greatest Hits

YEAR RELEASED: Compilation


SINGLES: Top 40: Rock Me (#60 US, #9 Rock), Save Your Love (#57 US, #9 Rock), Mista Bone (#27 Rock), One Bitten, Twice Shy (#5 US, #6 Rock, #83 UK), The Angel Song (#30 US, #18 Rock), Call It Rock & Roll (#53 US, #4 Rock, #67 UK), Big Goodbye (#20 Rock), Old Rose Motel (#23 Rock)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Live versions of two hits; House of Broken Love and Desert Moon

LINEUP: Jack Russell, Mark Kendall, Audie Desbrow. Other guys, like Tony Montana, Lorne Black, Dave Spitz, and Michael Lardie all showed up at one point or another.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Derivative Zep / Ratt band hit it huge with a glam cover after four albums, and faded away after their fifth went splat.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The career trajectory of Great White was pointing towards a slog as a second rate metal band – openers on arena tours, and possibly headlining clubs and small halls. Then, they covered Ian Hunter, and, well, that escalated quickly.

Early on, they did sound like Ratt sometimes, and Zep others, with icky power ballads thrown in for the masses. “Once Bitten, Twice Shy”, more intelligent and subtle than you’d think (because Hunter, you know), propelled them into the mega-star complex. It wasn’t really metal, but they had been metal and had hair, so, there you go.

But their next album, right as grunge was gurgling, stiffed, for a good reason. Ian Hunter wasn’t there to hand them another hit, and their brand of Zeppy-lite metal was nowhere near vogue. Alas, that leads to a breakup, reformations, and club dates in Rhode Island…

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Jack Russell, the singer, formed the band originally, but went away to prison for an armed robbery where he injured a maid.


GRADE C: It ain’t bad, really, but there’s goopy ballads and needless live and acoustic cuts. There’s another straight compilation out there, too. Actually, several.

The Styrenes – Essential Styrenes Vol. 1 (1975-1979)

ARTIST: The Styrenes

TITLE: Essential Styrenes Vol. 1 (1975-1979)                    r-4432280-1364729490-3484.jpeg

YEAR RELEASED: Compilation


SINGLES: Drano in Your Veins, I Saw You


LINEUP: George Klimek, Paul Marotta, Anton Fier, Mike Antle, Jim Jones, other various drummers and bassists

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Arising out of the ashes of the early avant-garde Cleveland scene, the Styrenes were born, and wallowed in serious obscurity until people started to pay attention to Pere Ubu. Then they were just obscure.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Cleveland in the early 70’s produced some dark avant-garde rock, and after the first wave of bands came and went (including Mirrors and the infamous Electric Eels), the Styrenes formed.

Their first single (“Drano in Your Veins”) rather much captured it all. They weren’t loud and destructive – at least on record – they were subversive in other ways. The lyrics were just weird, art damaged maybe (early on), and the arrangements were a bit odd and off-putting. Later, they added saxes, shed members (many, like Anton Fier, joined Pere Ubu or other Cleveland bands) and Paul Marotta’s piano took more prominence. They were still weird.

This compilation covers their Cleveland years, containing the best two singles and album highlights. This was released originally as two 7” records, which was probably the perfect format for them.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: They moved to New York, recorded an album, waited about eight years, recorded another one, and somehow Marotta have kept a version going.


GRADE C+: Google the lyrics to “Drano in Your Veins”. If you can dig it, you can dig this. It’s just inconsistent weirdness.


Eddie Money – The Essential Eddie Money

ARTIST: Eddie Money                                220px-eddie_money_-_the_essential_eddie_money

TITLE: The Essential Eddie Money

YEAR RELEASED: Compilation


SINGLES: Top 40: Baby Hold On (#11), Two Tickets to Paradise (#22), Maybe I’m a Fool (#22), Think I’m in Love (#16, #1 Mainstream), Shakin’ (#63, #9 Mainstream), The Big Crash (#54, #17 Mainstream), Take Me Home Tonight (#4, #1 Mainstream), I Wanna Go Back (#14, #3 Mainstream), Endless Nights (#21, #10 Mainstream), We Should Be Sleeping (#90, #18 Mainstream), Walk on Water (#9, #2 Mainstrream), The Love in Your Eyes (#24, #1 Mainstream), Let Me In (#60, #30 Mainstream), Peace in Our Time (#11, #2 Mainstream), Heaven in the Back Seat (#58, #6 Mainstream), I’ll Get By (#21),

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Isn’t that enough?

LINEUP: Eddie Money. Early on Jimmy Lyon, Lonnie Turner, Gary Mallaber and Tom Scott were in his band in the studio. After 1983 he used session guns after Lyon left.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Journeyman classic rocker somehow fills a 2-CD compilation. You don’t remember many of these songs, even though they charted. eddiemoneyessentialeddiemoney

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: An earnest, conventional rock-and-roller if there ever was one, Eddie Money burst onto the scene with two fantastic classic rock songs (“Baby Hold On” and “Two Tickets to Paradise”). Yet, his management and record company decided to grab for more pop ears, and added sweeteners like strings and dance rhythms, and his career clunked a bit as that played to his weaknesses, not his strengths. (It probably was the production – on the 2-disc set there are four live cuts from his second album that redeem those tracks.)

After his third album tanked and he had a medical scare due to too many downers, Money took time off and then hit the MTV era hard with “Think I’m in Love” and the video hit “Shakin’” (well all remember that one…oh yeah!). Then there was the song with Ronnie Spector (“Take Me Home Tonight”) that was justifiably huge.

As time went on, Money charted pretty regularly on the Mainstream chart (where AOR radio lived), and he tried to branch out (he shouldn’t do reggae, or dance pop, c’mon), and had a few ballads hit the A/C chart (gloppy as you can imagine) but nothing stuck as much as those classic songs we all know.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: He lost a lot of creative control in the mid-80’s and that’s when his records turned into bland showcases for songwriters.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: There’s a one disc version. That may be a better value, really.

 GRADE B-: A handful of great tracks, and then, ooof.

Black Oak Arkansas – Definitive Rock: Black Oak Arkansas

ARTIST: Black Oak Arkansas                    boa definitive rock

TITLE: Definitive Rock : Black Oak Arkansas

YEAR RELEASED: Compilation


SINGLES: Jim Dandy (#25)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: I’m sure someone’s heard other stuff by them. The question begs, why?

LINEUP: Jim Dandy Mangrum, Rickie Lee Reynolds, Harvey Jett, Pat Daugherty, Stanley Knight, Wayne Evans, Tommy Aldridge. Probably others. I ain’t lookin’ at each albums credits.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: The stoopedest swamp-rock of the 70’s.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: They had three guitars, but really didn’t need ‘em. (Unlike Skynyrd, who really made three guitars work in space). They had energy, yes, and a “sense” of humor, and probably put on a good show, but also they sported inane lyrics mostly ineptly sung by Jim Dandy.

Then why have I kept over half of this record, then? Well, when Jim Dandy doesn’t do his ‘wacky character’ voice, he’s kind of engaging, like a primordial David Lee Roth. They could rock out when their asinine ideas, gimmicks, or jokes didn’t stand in the way. And, everyone needs some 8-track tape tunes in their life.

After 1974, their career slowly faded away like the business end of a Marlboro Red. You gotta pick and choose very carefully. I mean carefully. They covered “Taxman” and “So You Want to Be a Rock ‘n’ Roll Star”. You wanna go THERE?

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Formed in 1963 or so as The Knowbody Else, they’ve had 70 members or so, including their present touring band. You probably know Tommy Aldridge from his work with Ozzy and Whitesnake. Other members have played with Johnny Winter, Cinderella, Gene Simmons, Krokus, REO Speedwagon, Winger, and the Bluesbreakers.


 GRADE C: They catered to the shirtless heathens of the 70’s – those who stood on the hood of their ’73 Chevy Impala, barefoot, sun baked, in the grass parking lot of the festival, drinking Stroh’s and smoking heaters with an occasional hit of grass or a snort of cheap wine or whiskey.