Tag: Compilation

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.

James Brown – The Singles, Vol. 5: 1967-1969

ARTIST: James Brown                    brown 5

TITLE: The Singles Vol. 5: 1967-1969

YEAR RELEASED: Compilation


SINGLES: Top 10: I Can’t Stand Myself (When You Touch Me) (#28, #4 R&B), There Was a Time (#36, #3 R&B), I Got the Feelin’ (#6, #1 R&B), Licking Stick – Licking Stick (#14, #2 R&B), Say It Loud – I’m Black and I’m Proud (#10, #1 R&B), Goodbye My Love (#31, #9 R&B), Give It Up or Turnit a Loose (#15, #1 R&B)


LINEUP: James Brown with the James Brown Band, the Dapps, and the Fabulous Flames

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Uneven period for Brown, with some fantastic future looking funk, political commentary, and some schmaltz.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: James Brown diversified his backing band, and use the Cincy area band The Dapps on several recordings in this era (Neil Young sometimes bassist Tim Drummond was in the Dapps). The Dapps and the James Brown Band both moved towards funk away from soul with the moving bass lines and spare guitar parts. The best singles here move towards funk, or have Brown taking a stand during the civil rights era.

But, this era also has a lot of Brown instrumentals, where he joins either band and piddles around on the organ, or he croons schmaltzy tracks. There’s a lot of filler tracks, as Brown’s singles alternated between tremendous proto-funk and languid ballads.

Brown experiments with keys and motifs here, putting some songs in modes that weren’t used in soul most of the time, especially on “I Can’t Stand Myself (When You Touch Me)”

The end of the collection (“Give It Up or Turnit a Loose” and “Soul Pride”) set the table for Brown’s next period, where he brings the funk.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: There’s some singles here credited to the Dapps, but Brown is all over the organ on them.


 GRADE B+: Really great tracks, then really blah filler. But it’s on the way to Brown’s funk period.

Suede – The Best of Suede

ARTIST: Suede                                          BestofSuede

TITLE: The Best of Suede

YEAR RELEASED: Compilation


SINGLES: Top 10: Metal Mickey (#7 US Modern, #17 UK), Animal Nitrate (#7 U), Stay Together (#3 UK), Trash (#3 UK), Beautiful Ones (#8 UK), Saturday Night (#6 UK), Lazy (#9 UK), Filmstar (#9 UK), Electricity (#5 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Brit-pop fans know the B-sides and album tracks here

LINEUP: Brett Anderson, Mat Osman, Bernard Butler, Simon Gilbert. Richard Oakes replaced Butler halfway through their hit tenure. Neil Codling joinde on keyboards later.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: One of the original Brit Pop bands (taking the UK over from the Madchester scene), Suede’s singles were at times rock, pop, and bombastic prog all rolled into one.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: A combination of sex, drugs, and glammy rock-and-roll, Suede’s influence and popularity in the UK is greater than we’ll ever know here in the US. Yet, the band was a tinderbox due to tensions through recording and touring. and the drug use of singer Brett Anderson.

Britpop didn’t make much of a ripple over hear (Oasis and the odd Blur track notwithstanding), and while the themes of Suede’s music had an audience here. At times Suede were too bombastic and really worshiping at the altar of Bowie and Marc Bolan. When Bernard Butler left, Anderson didn’t quite have the musical partner he needed.

This is a good introduction for most of the curious in the US, as it covers most all of their A-sides from their classic period, and has a few B-sides and album tracks. That second disc does drag a bit and lowers the grade, as some songs are definitely exile-worthy..

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Here, we have to officiallycall them the London Suede, but I’m not going to.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: The first disc is the hits. The second are Brett Anderson’s favorites.

 GRADE: B : Had it been the first disc, it’s definitely an A-. The second disc has some duds.

Family – History

ARTIST: Family                                                     MI0003672214

TITLE:  History

YEAR RELEASED: Compilation


SINGLES: No Mules Fool (#29 UK), The Weaver’s Answer (#11 UK), In My Own Time (#4 UK), Burlesque (#13 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Not here, not at all

LINEUP: Roger Chapman, Rob Townsend, John Palmer, Charlie Whitney were constants from 1969-72. Others included Jim Cregan, Jim King, Ric Grech, John Weider, John Wetton and Tony Ashton.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Popular in the UK in the early 70’s, this collection hits their proggy and rock highlights.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The first thing you notice about Family is that vocalist. Roger Chapman bleats and yowls with a heavy vibrato, which could be a deal breaker for some folks. The band, though, despite their various incarnations of drummers and multi-instrumentalists, were solid and swung between pure prog and a definite prog and rock hybrid (especially when John Wetton was on board)

They do tend to extend themselves and their tracks, psychedelic at first, then jazzy later on, and that wears you down after a while. They had good ides but didn’t have much of an edit function on tracks.

Obscure in the US, except for a loving cult, Family’s albums charted well in the UK (three Top 10’s and two others at 14 and 15). But because of Chapman’s vocals, you probably want to stick to this compilation to start until you’re sure about them.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: They reformed  the 1972 lineup of Chapman, Thownsend, Palmer and Creagan and are out on the boards in the UK and Europe.



GRADE: B: I can’t say you won’t be turned off by Chapman’s vocals. They’re probably much better with live records than on studio.

The Chi-Lites – 20 Greatest Hits

ARTIST: The Chi-Lites                        612mBXog7mL._SX355_

TITLE:  20 Greatest Hits

YEAR RELEASED: Compilation


SINGLES: Top 10: Give It Away (#88 US, #10 R&B), Are You My Woman (Tell Me So) (#72 US, #8 R&B), (For God’s Sake) Give More Power to the People (#26 US, #4 R&B, #32 UK), Have You Seen Her (#3 US, #1 R&B, #3 UK), Oh Girl (#1 US, #1 R&B, #14 UK), The Coldest Days of My Life (#47 US, #8 R&B), A Letter to Myself (#33 US, #3 R&B), Stoned Out of My Mind (#30 US, #2 R&B), Homely Girl (#54 US, #3 R&B, #5 UK), There Will Never Be Any Peace (Until God Is at the Conference Table) (#63 US, #8 R&B), Too Good to Be Forgotten (#10 UK), Toby / That’s How Long (#78 US, #7 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: That’s about everything right there.

LINEUP: Marshall Thompson, Robert ‘Squirrell’ Lester, Eugene Record, Creadel ‘Red’ Jones.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Outstanding early 70’s soul vocal group was almost equal to the Temptations of the time.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: While each hit by the Chi-Lites falls into pretty distinct categories (funky, pleading, socially aware) and each category has a similar sound (especially when “Have You Seen Her” and “Oh Girl” hit it big), the Chi-Lites Brunswick singles catalog is deep and mighty.

Eugene Record was the mastermind behind most of the hits – writing and producing the tracks sometimes with help by Barbara Acklin. The sound was great with Red Jones with the bass lines, and Record with the soaring tenor and funky backing musicians from Chicago. During their heyday they were snappy dressers with matching suits and afros. They had it all – for a while.

Their later hits featured some missteps, and thankfully this ends after they started to shed members due to Brunswick’s trouble. This is a good collection for those who dig the early 70’s soul sounds.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Marshall Thompson still has a version of the group going.


 GRADE: A-: A couple of meh tracks, but when they were on top of their game they were great.

Sylvester – Mighty Real (Greatest Dance Hits)

ARTIST: Sylvester                                         R-5480744-1394461410-3536.jpeg

TITLE:  Mighty Real (Greatest Dance Hits)

YEAR RELEASED: Compilation


SINGLES: Over and Over (#18 Dance), Dance (Disco Heat) (#19 US, #4 R&B, #1 Dance), You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real) (#36 US, #20 R&B, #1 Dance, #8 UK), Body Strong (#4 Dance), Stars (#4 Dance, #47 UK), Can’t Stop Dancing (#43 R&B, #2 Dance), I Need You / Sell My Soul (#6 Dance)


LINEUP: Sylvester, the Weather Girls, Disco sessioneers

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Disco, Disco, Disco!

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Sylvester James had a San Francisco glammy type band, but they broke up after two records. He sound found the Weather Girls who became his backup singers and close friends, and went to the disco genre and became the gay undergrounds disco star in the late 70’s, particulary for “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)”.

The late 70’s were his time – especially on the dance charts. He was a star in the disco realm, but tried to change up in early 1980 to more of a soul and gospel groove, and bombed out. He sued his producer for unpaid royalties and released a few more albums before his death due to AIDS in the late 80’s.

This collection is a good throwback to that carefree disco era of the 70’s.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: He played on the Late Show with Joan Rivers, and corrected her when she referred to him as a drag queen.


 GRADE: B-: Good disco tracks with some high points, but as most disco albums the cuts are long and repetitive – good for dancing grooves, not much of intense listening.

Rick Derringer – Playlist: The Very Best of Rick Derringer

ARTIST: Rick Derringer                     71++RgMezdL._SX425_

TITLE:  Playlist: The Very Best of Rick Derringer

YEAR RELEASED: Compilation


SINGLES: Charting: Hang on Sloopy (#1 US, #5 UK), Rock and Roll, Hootchie Koo (#23 US), Teenage Love Affair (#80 US), Let Me In (#86)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Still Alive and Well

LINEUP: Rick Derringer and various session people, plus his own group called Derringer, which existed in the mid-70’s

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Guitarist and vocalist for the McCoys, Johnny Winter, and Edgar Winter’s solo career is compiled in a single disc that illustrates the problems he had sustaining a solo career.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: There’s no doubt Rick Derringer’s a good wingman, as his worth with both Winter brothers and Weird Al show. He’s also got a good rock-and-roll voice. But as a songwriter, he’s got few highlights outside of “Rock and Roll, Hootchie Koo”.

“Still Alive and Well” works well, and various dribs and drabs from his group Derringer are decent enough. But his 70’s solo albums found him straddling glam and hard rock, with no real purpose, and some of his tracks are just cringeworthy (who the hell thought “If I Weren’t So Romantic, I’d Shoot You” was a song title that would be both a single AND the title of an album???)

I was quite disappointed here – but it illustrates why you’ve not heard much besides his big solo hit.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: He recorded a version of “Real American” for Alex Jones’ show. I don’t need to say more.


 GRADE: C: Many tracks exiled. Just not great

Jackie Wilson – The Ultimate Jackie Wilson

ARTIST: Jackie Wilson                           jackiewilson

TITLE:  The Ultimate Jackie Wilson

YEAR RELEASED: Compilation


SINGLES: Top 10: Reet Petite (#62 US, #6 UK- #1 UK on re-release), To Be Loved (#22 US, #7 R&B, #23 UK), Lonely Teardrops (#7 US, #1 R&B), That’s Why (I Love You So) (#13 US, #2 R&B), I’ll Be Satisfied (#20 US, #6 R&B), You Better Know It (#37 US, #1 R&B), Talk That Talk (#34 US, #3 R&B), A Woman A Lover A Friend (#15 US, #1 R&B), Night (#4 US, #3 R&B), Doggin’ Around (#15 US, #1 R&B), Alone at Last (#8 US, #20 R&B, #50 UK), Am I the Man (#32 US, #10 R&B), My Empty Arms (#9 US, #25 R&B), I’m Comin’ Back to You (#19 US, #9 R&B), Baby Workout (#5 US, #1 R&B), Whispers (Gettin’ Louder) (#11 US, #5 R&B), (Your Love Keeps Lifing Me) Higher and Higher (#6 US, #1 R&B), I Get the Sweetest Feeling (#34 US, #12 R&B, #9 UK, #3 UK on re-release), (I Can Feel Those Vibrations) This Love Is Real (#56 US, #9 R&B)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: He covered a lot of popular hits late in the 60’s

LINEUP: Jackie Wilson, some very white background singers, session musicians, and some help by Lavern Baker, the Chi-Lites and Count Basie.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: One of the best early soul / R&B singers of the rock era is well, almost too well, documented here.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Jackie Wilson was a natural entertainer, and as a singer he evoked emotion and joy. “Mr. Excitement” on stage, many times his records were middle-of-the-road glop more suited for a crooner than someone with his vocal range and style. Even his blues records were over-produced with strings and white-bread backing vocals.

Still, when he was allowed to cut loose he was one of the best. The list of singles is impressive, but more impressive is his influence on his contemporaries and those who followed. Elvis and Michael Jackson were huge admirers. James Brown and Solomon Burke no doubt looked at his stage show and formulated how they could match or top it.

Wilson’s life was tragic in many ways, but his legacy makes him well-remembered. This collection has all of the highlights, and while it’s a bit bloated it’s the best overview around.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: He collapsed on stage in 1975, and was in and out of hospitals and nursing homes in various states of comas until he passed away in 1984.


 GRADE: B+: I hate to give this a higher grade because of the glop he sang that Brunswick made him (so he could crossover to the easy listening market), but there’s enough of that stuff on there that makes this a slog at times. Still, you need plenty of Jackie Wilson in your collection.