This is a spot for artists and records that can be found streaming, but are kind of in the ‘minor artist’ or ‘for the curious’ more than anything. Basically, they were one-or-two song wonders that have more than that streaming, but didn’t have the depth for a sustained album review, or are for those who have a career that is limited in appeal in this day and age. Check out at your leisure.
The 101’ers – Elgin Avenue Breakdown – Historically important as it was the group Joe Strummer left to form the Clash (after seeing the Sex Pistols at a gig). Strummer’s energy is apparent, but the songs and music are kind of warmed over Dr. Feelgood, really, and no one’s as good as Wilko Johnson on guitar in this band. Clash super-fans may like it.
Gregory Abbott – Shake You Down – If you want eight songs that all sound alike, with all of those 80’s keyboards and drums in the fore, then this is for you.
Ace – Five-a-Side – “How Long” made Paul Carrack’s name, so much that they probably think that it’s a Paul Carrack tune, and not Ace (much like “Tempted” by Squeeze). The rest of it is rather generic smooth rock that wouldn’t hurt a fly, but won’t leave an impression, either.
The Ad-Libs – The Complete Blue Cat Years – The winning track here is “The Boy from New York City”, which is timeless. Their first two singles and b-sides (tracks 1-4 here) are keepers. The rest are just tries at repeating their success. This also is kind of a misnomer, since it has songs released AFTER they were dropped by Blue Cat, and misses a couple of Blue Cat sides.
Don Agrati – Homegrown – You may know him as Don Grady, or Robbie Douglas on My Three Sons. He also was in the group The Yellow Balloon. In 1972 he released this album which was an eclectic mix of sunshine pop and hippified singer-songwriter stuff. It also sounded like Robbie Douglas left Katie and the triplets to smoke it up. It’s OK, but not something I’m rushing to put in my catalog.
Jewel Akens – The Best of Jewel Akens – He had a great name, and a decent voice. “The Birds and the Bees” was catchy as heck and deserved its hit status. The rest, well, the material just wasn’t there. I do like the organ sound of his 1965 work, though.
The Gregg Allman Band – I’m No Angel – He’s a legend, thanks to the Allman Brothers. Yet, he can’t get a pass for an album of blandness with 80’s production.
The Angels – My Boyfriend’s Back – The title track was a smash and is timeless. The rest of the material is weaker, almost superfluous. They also covered “He’s So Fine” by the Chiffons and almost copied their arrangement note-for-note, enough to fool people I’m sure. Sigh. White people.
Paul Anka – The Very Best of Paul Anka – This is an overview of his early hits. “Diana”, “You Are My Destiny”, “Put Your Head on my Shoulder”, “Lonely Boy”, “It’s Time to Cry”. “Puppy Love”. Some said rock-and-roll died when Elvis went to the Army and didn’t come back for a while. They pointed to this supper club stuff as proof. They’re right, mostly. He had a 70’s renaissance that I’ll cover later, for shits and giggles.
Aorta – Aorta – They were the band behind “Shape of Things to Come” by Max Frost & the Troopers.They also were the band Peter Cetera was in before he joined what became Chicago. All that said, this 1969 album showcases the worst tendencies of psychedelic rock (unfocused, pretentious) and is barely redeemed by a couple tracks near the end. Plus, what the hell kind of name is Aorta? What’s next, a band called Epiglottis? Eustachean Tube?
The Art of Noise – (Who’s Afraid Of) The Art of Noise)? – I dunno. Maybe it’s just me. But one song (“Close (To the Edit)”) is fine but it gets boring over a whole album.
Ashton, Gardner & Dyke – The Best of Ashton, Gardner & Dyke – They had one hit (huge in the UK, hit #40 in the US) with “Resurrection Shuffle”, but that’s not something to write home about except for the horn charts. They didn’t quite know if they wanted to be jazzy, rocky, or bluesy. That’s never good.
George Baker Selection – The Very Best Of – “Little Green Bag” is such an outta-site track, but they never really were able to replicate it. Oh, yeah, they also did “Una Paloma Blanca”, a freakin’ MOR earworm that was always on the local radio station, and is now best known for Slim Whitman’s vesion with his yodel.
The Barbarians – Are You a Boy or Are You a Girl? – They’ll always be remembered for their performance of the title cut on the T.A.M.I. Show, and for the maudlin spoken-word thing “Moulty”, recited by their hook-handed drummer. They had one other original that was OK in “What the New Breed Say”. The rest of their stuff was a rush job, and “Moulty” was probably the thing that killed them.
Barnes & Barnes – Voobaha – “Fish Heads” and other assorted weirdness. Your acceptance of this all depends on your tolerance to abstract oddities.
Toni Basil – Mickey: The Very Best of Tony Basil – No, it’s not a one song album, but it really could have been a two-song single, with “Shopping A to Z” decent as well. There’s a Spanish version of “Mickey”, just in case you ever thought how that song would sound in Spanish.
Fontella Bass – Rescued: The Best of Fontella Bass – Obviously, “Rescue Me” is the sweet track, and “Recovery” is nice, too. The rest are okay, and her career was truncated due to royalty disputes. She complained, and was labeled a ‘troublemaker’.
Before Today – A Celebration Of an Ending – This band evolved into Pierce the Veil. This album is just kinda generic 00’s hardcore / screamo / whiny white-boy emo music that’s almost indistinguishable from any other band of that time, except they do use some guttural vocals (but in the back, for why I dunno).
The Belle Stars – The Belle Stars & Stripes – They had two moments. One, when “Sign of the Times”, a great ear candy song got some big MTV play and hit #3 in the UK. Second, when “Iko Iko” wound up on the Rain Man soundtrack and hit #14 here. The rest of it sounds like flaccid 80’s music, and “Iko Iko” even wasn’t that good.
The Big Bopper – Chantilly Lace – He did “White Lightning” first, and also wrote (but didn’t release) “Running Bear”. The title track everyone knows; most everything else is variations on that theme.
Edwin Birdsong – Edwin Birdsong – Who? Well, you know the song “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” by Daft Punk. The main keyboard riff – the one that carries the song, is from “Cola Bottle Baby” from this album. The rest of THIS record is just generic keyboard driven late 70’s funk, but “Cola Bottle Baby”, whatever that means, is dang good.
Barry Blue – Greatest – He released a perfect piece of pop piffle in the UK “Dancin’ (On a Saturday Night)” that propelled him to some success as and set him as a songwriter and producer more than anything.
Blue Swede – Hooked on a Feeling – Everyone knows the title track, in all of it’s “OOGA CHAKA” glory. They do a lot of covers and some originals (shudder) in the same kind of campy way, with the lead vocalist straining to be perfect on pitch and sound American as well. He’s way too forced, he’s Swedish, and the camp ceases to be fun after a half-dozen tracks.
Irene Cara – What a Feelin’ – Fame was fleeting for the talented Cara. There, I said it.
Body Count – Body Count – The infamous “Cop Killer” isn’t officially on the album, but you can find it on You Tube. It wouldn’t add much to this. I admire Ice-T for breaking barriers, but he’s done better rhymes, and the metal / punk seems a bit warmed over. Maybe I was expecting too much since this was so hyped.
Brad Sucks – I Don’t Know What I’m Doing – Thirteen years ago, releasing an album for free on the internet was kind of revolutionary. I’m glad he got some pub out of it, but the album was just OK. He did everything himself, but his double-tracked vocals are a little off and the monotone melodies get a little bit same-songy.
Martin Briley – Salt In My Tears: The Complete Mercury Masters – Those of us older folks saw “The Salt in My Tears” video over and over again on MTV. The song is nice enough, but Briley released three albums in the 80’s and nothing else rises to that level.
Donnie Brooks – The Best of Donnie Brooks – There’s no hidden gems here. “Mission Bell” is a nice bit of nostalgia, but the rest never hit, or briefly hit, and the the worst thing are the generic backing vocals performed by generic female session musicians. Blah and very white and corny.
Polly Brown(e) – Bewitched! The Polly Browne Story – Not much of a story, really. Kind of a anecdote, at least in the states. “Up in a Puff of Smoke” hit it big, but it’s rather out of step with most of her work (which was early 70’s Europop).
Shirley Brown – Woman to Woman – A surprise hit in 1974, “Woman to Woman” was a song about a woman confronting his man’s ‘outside woman’ who seems to be a crumb-bum. The rest of the album is good late Stax output. Stax crumbled soon after this became a big hit and her career never recovered.
Sleepy Brown – Mr. Brown – I was entranced by the single “Margarita”, which rocketed up the charts to #108. I don’t know how I heard it, especially since I was rather much shut out of the music world then. The rest of the album? Well, I’m glad I didn’t buy it. This is the only cut on the record produced by the Neptunes – Pharell Williams and Chad Hugo. No wonder.
The Buoys – Give Up Your Guns – 18 Great Songs – Um, no. There’s one great song here, and that’s “Timothy”, a song written expressly to get banned (by Rupert Holmes, no less).
Calla – Collisions – Their fourth album. The first three mined an art-damaged slowcore vein. This one is more song oriented, and they had a somewhat radio hit in “In Dawned on Me”. Not much else besides “Swagger” tripped my trigger. They released one more and then called it a grimy, depressed, day.
Cannibal & the Headhunters – Land of 1000 Dances – I suppose if you’re going to have one hit, make it memorable. FYI – the “na na na na” thing was something the singer used to cover up the fact that he forgot the lyrics during one show.
The Capitols – Dance the Cool Jerk – I was surprised that there wasn’t a collection by the Capitols, but in looking at what this album had to offer, I’m not surprised. Almost everything is a cover, or just filler. They never had another hit. So, just grab “Cool Jerk” somewhere.
The Caravelles – You Don’t Have to Be a Baby to Cry – One hit wonders in the US and UK; there’s no reason for a 24-song compilation.
Tony Carey – Some Tough City – The erstwhile keyboardist for Rainbow (not an exclusive club, in all reality) went solo, and released this record along with his excursion as Planet P. “A Fine Fine Day” made the charts, thanks to MTV, but most of the rest is kind of generic 80’s rock that’s keyboard heavy.
Clarence Carter – Dr. CC – Go and find his compilation called Snatching It Back. Listen to it, and now you know why I never listen to “Strokin'” ever again.
Mel Carter – The Best of Mel Carter – He had a few hits, mostly very orchestrated ballads. The one that sticks is “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me”. Most all of his stuff is grocery store fare, best heard when deciding on which rutabaga to nab.
The Cascades – The Very Best Of... – They tried for many years to follow up the success of “Rhythm of the Rain”. It was just one of those songs, and it didn’t hurt that they put the Wrecking Crew behind them for that single.
Shaun Cassidy – Greatest Hits – Saved from the ignominy of the ugh pile thanks to some cuts from his last album (basically he fronted Utopia on that album) and Eric Carmen’s “Hey Deanie”, which actually suits his limited voice.
The Chantays – Pipeline – You know the song – it’s a standard for a surf scene or a montage in movies. Trust me, that’s all you’ll need to hear.
The Chantels – Greatest Hits – One of the first girl groups. Their big hit was “Maybe” in 1957. This collection covers their 50’s output. They recorded in the 60’s but that stuff isn’t streaming. I think it’s just fair girl group doo-wop, but they were pioneers so they get some ink.
Chase – Chase and Ennea – Upping the ante from Chicago, the Ides of March, If, and Blood Sweat & Tears, they were a group with four trumpets and a rock rhythm section plus a vocalist. “Get It On” is a pep-band favorite, but the lyrics and vocals seem strained, and the novelty of a four trumpet band wears after a while. Plus, they really loved side-long suites which can get tedious or disjointed.
The Checkmates, Ltd. – Love Is All We Have to Give – This soul / R&B group from Fort Wayne (Hooiser State represent!) was one of the best inter-racial bands on the R&B scene in the late 60’s. This record’s first side has some great singles and cover versions done in their grandiose style. Why is this here? The second side is an entire suite of songs from Hair, and you know, that’s kinda tedious, really. It probably killed on their stage show, but it kills the album here.
The Chiffons – Absolutely the Best! – “He’s So Fine”, “Sweet Talkin’ Guy”., “One Fine Day” are great. The rest mediocre or covers of other big hits. In other words, a normal comp for a girl group.
Billy Childish – Way too many records to mention – In his many incarnations (Pop Rivets, Thee Milkshakes, Thee Mighty Caesars, Thee Headcoats, and more) and as svengali of Thee Headcoatees, the formula’s basically the same. Simple rock-and-roll, a love of the sound of the 50’s and 60’s, recorded in what it sounds like a garage, with great enthusiams. It’s Dealer’s Choice, basically, whether you like it or not, and what to get. He doesn’t make it easy, really.
The Chordettes – Mr. Sandman – They do sing pretty, but in reality only the title cut of this collection and the at-times annoying “Lollypop” make the grade. That is, unless you like hearing them do show tunes. They were 40’s-type singers stuck in the 50’s.
Claudine Clark – Party Lights: The Best of – The title track hit #5. It was self-penned, and that gave hope that she’d be able to sustain a long-term career. No such luck, as her follow-up bombed. She kept going to the same raucous well.
Classix Nouveaux – The Very Best of Classix Nouveaux – “Guilty” is a guily pleasure, for sure, with the video having a great early 80’s look to it. On the whole, they were an overly serious and dramatic synth pop band that bores you quickly.
Clarence Clemons – Hero – “You’re a Friend of Mine” is a great collaboration between Clarence and Jackson Browne (oh, and Darryl Hannah, but yeah…). The rest of the album is pure 1985 musically – electronic drums, keyboards, and a lack of soul. The man could play sax, though.
The Climax Blues Band – Gold Plated – A journeyman blues band (kind of like the one from the song “Sultans of Swing”) hit it big with “Couldn’t Get It Right” after some prodding from their manager, Miles Copeland. There’s no greatest hits collection streaming, and the song “I Love You” is odious, so I listened to the album listed above. It’s a journeyman blues band that lucked into a hit.
The Cloud Room – The Cloud Room – A buzzy track or two can’t sustain an album, or a successful career, so it seems. But kids in 2006 who drank Pepsi will always have “Hey Now Now”
Josie Cotton – Convertible Music – She placed two tracks in the Valley Girl soundtrack, including the now-dated sounding “Johnny, Are You Queer?” (I’m wincing as I type that.) She got minor buzz but nothing really happened after that, except she likes to wear bouffants.
Crazy Elephant – Crazy Elephant – One of those Kasenetz-Katz bubblegum bands, the only really crucial cut is “Gimme Gimme Good Lovin'” and the rest is filler. Don’t even think about their seven minute version of “Respect”.
The Crests – The Crests Sing All Biggies – Well, they sing a lot of ‘biggies’ – by others, but “Sixteen Candles” is their biggie. What’s also notable is that this was an interracial group, which was quite unusual in doo-wop, especially for the 50’s.
Crow – The Best of Crow – “Evil Woman” was remade by Black Sabbath as a UK single, and was reissued later on CD copies of their debut in the US. The original single hit #19, and their heavy-ish sound undercut by horns. Later, they lost the horns but still sounded like a recycled boogie band.
Cryan’ Shames – Sugar and Spice – The title track is a very good garage band meets sunshine pop song (a Searchers cover that hit #49), and a few of their originals are decent. But they try to cover songs from almost every style, and it really doesn’t work well.
The Cuff Links – Tracy – The title cut became a hit, maybe because Ron Dante, who ghosted the voice of Archie Andrews in the Archies, also sang this. The album was rush rush rushed and actually ain’t that bad all things considered with some decent bubble gum sunshine pop. The second album didn’t feature Dante (but did feature Rupert Holmes of pina colada fame). I didn’t go there and from the charts and sales no one else did either.
Mac Davis – The Best of Mac Davis (among others) – Davis was more of a songwriter early in his career, penning “In the Ghetto”, “Don’t Cry Daddy” and “Memories” for Elvis and other songs for Nancy Sinatra and BJ Thomas. His solo work fell into the mellow pop-country area, which doesn’t excite me much. But “Baby Don’t Get Hooked on Me” gets a rise out of my wife, and I’ll keep it around for that. (Sometimes I’m mean like that.) “Watching Scotty Grow”, however, makes me want to burn things down, and not in a good way.
Bobby Day – Rockin’ Robin – For a 50’s album, it’s pretty solid, with three hits and a song that was just used as a commercial. So I thought about reviewing it proper, but decided here would be the best play to say that you need to go find the stream of this album and pick what you know or like.
Chris de Burgh – The Best Of Chris de Burgh 20th Century Masters The Millennium Collection – It was his SIXTH record that contained “Don’t Pay the Ferryman”. His eighth contained that goddamn “Lady in Red” song, and to this day he’s rolling in the cash from that…that…thing.
Kiki Dee – I’ve Got the Music in Me – The title cut propelled this record to the Top 30. Most of it is harmless, bland MOR sop. This is what comps are for, separating the good stuff from the dreck!
Deep Blue Something – Home – For the life of me, I thought they were English. Nope. Texan. You can tell if you heard more than “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”. Nothing is exceptional, nor an earworm like that damn song was. Acoustic guitars, earnest singing, not much soul – a perfect mid 90’s bro band.
The Diamonds – The Best of the Diamonds – They had a few hits that mostly were copped from the original R&B artists. “Little Darlin'” is fun, and “The Stroll” is ok. The rest is all based on if you really want to see / hear white people sing songs that R&B artists did first and better (like “Why Do Fools Fall in Love”).
The Dickies – Punk Singles Collection – Punk rock covers of classic rock and TV theme songs isn’t so funny after a while.
The Dixie Cups – Chapel of Love – Their first three singles, “People Say”, “Iko Iko”, and “Chapel of Love” are classic girl group sounds and songs. The rest is dealer’s choice.
Floyd Dixon – Best of the Blues Years – I prefer guitar-based blues instead of piano blues or jump blues, but Dixon has some tunes that are blues standards, including “Hey Bartender”, which should be in everyone’s catalog.
Lee Dorsey – The Essential Lee Dorsey – Almost all of this compilation are either on the two albums I reviewed or on the bonus tracks contained. There are five early songs, including the fantastic “Ya Ya” here. This would be an “A-” compilation, but the actual albums I think work better. Can’t have enough Lee Dorsey.
Double King – Double King and Night Fades – I Shazamed a track from our local college station, and test spun them. I think the song I liked was “Four White Horsemen”, the first cut on their debut. The rest were kinda mid-tempo white boy whiny, which is a dime-a-dozen.
Carl Douglas – The Soul of the Kung Fu Fighter – This collection is at least the original songs, and if you want to hear his follow-up called “Dane the Kung Fu”, it’s here in all it’s glory.
Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation – Dr. Dunbar’s Prescription – After John Mayall sacked him for Mick Fleetwood, Dunbar formed this group with a great name, but the only thing notable is that they were the originators of “Warning”, a track on the first Black Sabbath album. Otherwise their four albums are just fair-to-middlin’ British Blues, and two of them are hard to find. Dunbar later drummed with almost every band in the 70’s and 80’s that needed someone to fill a chair. He and Cozy Powell probably have the longest C.V.’s of any rock drummer of that era.
Tommy Edwards – Greatest Hits – “It’s All in the Game” was the big hit and a classic. Most all of the others are variations of the same, like “Please Mr. Sun” or “I Really Don’t Want to Know”. While Edwards has a nice voice, nothing else matches the biggest hit.
EBN / OZN – Feeling Cavalier – “AEIOU (Sometimes Y)” was a video sensation, and really nothing else was like it at the time. Nothing else was like it on the record, either, which sounded like it was rush-recorded when the single became a big thing on MTV.
Shirley Ellis – The Name Game and The Clapping Song and More – Better than you’d think, because despite the novelty aspect of “The Name Game” there’s some decent R&B here (“The Real Nitty Gritty” for sure). But not good enough to be all essential. Pick and choose.
E.U. – The Collective Works of E.U. – “Da Butt” was huge and fun, and I know the Go-Go bands put on great shows. It doesn’t translate to the studio, though.
Eve 6 – Eve 6 and Horrorscope – I definitely know why there were a few radio hits on these albums – it’s safely kinda-alternative-power-poppy but not too outre. They had a Top 30 hit with “Here’s to the Night”, which, if I wasn’t so cynical, sounds like it was especially written for sentimental high school kids on the verge of going to college.I’m not that, and if you are, there are better songs out there for that sentiment.
Fang – Landshark – “The Money Will Roll Right In” is genius punk rock. I find the rest of their stuff not compelling, urgent, energetic, or satisfying. Maybe it was the heroin.
Faze-O – Riding High – The title cut was a big, big smash in 1978 on the R&B charts, and has been used in many samples. The other songs are pretty much second-and-third rate Ohio Players (who they used to open for), and that gets kind of old quickly.
The Firm – The Firm – Jimmy Page + Paul Rodgers. What could go wrong? Well, lots. “Radioactive” is the only thing that approaches either of their prior band’s greatness. Chris Slade is a decent drummer, but the bassist was trying to fancy up everything. They have a second album too, and there’s a reason you don’t know that one.
The Five Du-Tones – The Five Du-Tones’ Divorce Court – Everyone knows “Shake a Tail Feather”, maybe not from their version though. The recording is a bit rough and ragged, but joyful, and it’s a shame it only hit #51 on the Hot 100 and #28 on the R&B chart. The B-side was a fun novelty “Divorce Court”. The rest of the songs on this slight collection are failed attempts to gain another hit.
The “5” Royales – Think – An unjustly forgotten band. I am going to review their 1957 album in this site in full at some point, but this is a huge collection of their material (and tracks credited to various offshoots) and it’s really staggering. Pick and choose their stuff, it’s very influential but I don’t know if it’s 60+ tracks influential.
The Five Satins – For Collectors Only – “In the Still of the Night”, “Shadows”, and “I’ll Be Seeing You” is a huge resume for any vocal group. This is 21 tracks, though, and they run out of steam quickly.
The Flamingos – Playlist: The Best of the Flamingos – “I Only Have Eyes for You” was their money-maker. They covered a lot of songs in their doo-wop style, but as with doo-wop, if you like it you love it, if not, then you’ll pass by.
The Fleetwoods – Come Softly to Me: The Very Best of the Fleetwoods – They could sing pretty, but it was all up to the material they put out. The title track of this collection along with “Mr. Blue” were about it, unless you wanted to be lulled to sleep by their gentle voicezzzzzzzzzzz………..
The Flirts – 10 Cents a Dance – The Flirts were active for a decade as svengali Bobby Orlando used various dancers and models to front the group while he had actual female singers do the vocals over the instrumental beds he wrote. “Jukebox (Don’t Put Another Dime)” was an MTV hit, and dance clubs liked “Passion”. I’d rather not recommend anything past those if you wish to explore 80’s faceless dance music.
Floaters – Float On – Did you know the album version of their classic song lasts almost 12 minutes? No? Well, now you do. BTW, this group formed from the debris of the Detroit Emeralds, a much better vocal group.
The Flying Lizards – The Flying Lizards – Their cover of “Money” deconstructs UK new wave and avant-garde music into the essentials. “TV” is a decent original song. The rest is boho horseshit.
Aretha Franklin – The Essential Aretha Franklin – Now, before you all lose your collective shit, this is the collection of material she recorded for Columbia BEFORE she moved to Atlantic and became the Queen of Soul. This is Franklin cast as a jazz-pop singer. She never had a big hit single there, and Columbia didn’t market her well, or give her any space to be herself. So, be prepared to hear Franklin in jazz vocalist mode covering standards behind supper-club arrangements.
Freddie & the Dreamers – The Ultimate Collection – You know, you can slot Greatest Hits in here too, I’m sure. Anyway, this has everything you need by this band and a lot more. Freddie had a high-pitched voice and an annoying laugh and still, “I’m Telling You Now” was a fine, fine, hit. “Do the Freddie” maybe not so much, and the rest depends on your tolerance for sub-sub-Beatles Merseybeat.
Fruminous Bandersnatch – The Studio Outtakes – Despite the presence of Ross Valory and George Tickner (future Journey), as well as future Steve Miller Band mates David Denny and Bobby Winkleman, this band never got a record deal that amounted to anything and released one three-song EP in their lifetime. Frankly, they’re not that interesting as a jam band, and their conventional songs lack hooks or finesse. It’s a reminder that not all San Francisco bands in the circuit made any impact outside of the local hippies.
Rex Garvin & the Mighty Cravers – Rex Garvin & the Mighty Cravers. You probably heard “Sock It To ‘Em JB” at some point. He had a long-ish career, mostly dealing in second-rate soul and R&B in the at the time current styles. That one hit stands out.
David Gates – Goodbye Girl – I love Bread. David Gates solo? Not so much. There’s nothing to balance the goop. You can probably find anything remotely good on some Bread compilations, such as the title track here.
Barbara George – The Best Of – An almost forgotten, often covered, wonderful hit “I Know (You Don’t Love Me No More)” is her claim to fame.
Georgie Fame & The Blue Flames – 20 Beat Classics – “Yeh Yeh” was a big hit in the UK and a decent sized hit here. They Might Be Giants have covered it, and it’s been used in commercials. Fame was more of an interpreter of US soul than anything, and while he’s pretty good at that his records aren’t vital.
The Gestures – The Gestures – You, sitting there, go find “Run Run Run”, a tremendous original single from this young Mankato, Minnesota band. Unfortunately, there was no infrastructure to help this band along, and they got lost in the shuffle. But “Run Run Run” is one of the best slices of 60’s beat group from a US band. “Don’t Mess Around” isn’t bad, either.
Jimmy Gilmer & the Fireballs – Sugar Shack and Bottle of Wine – Another pair of records where the title track is the one to have, and the others are just there. “Sugar Shack” has a great bass line and a Hammond Solovox provides they keyboard sound. “Bottle of Wine” was a great folkish tune given a rock treatment. They got two one-hit wonders!
Glass Tiger – Air Time (The Best of Glass Tiger) – Somehow, somehow, they had four Top 40 hits in the US but the money song is, of course, “Don’t Forget Me (When I’m Gone)”. The rest is 80’s New Wave hell. Caution when proceeding.
R.B. Greaves – R.B. Greaves – “Take a Letter, Maria”, a story of a man who finds out his wife is cheating on him and ultimately decides the best course of action schtuping his secretary, was a big soul / pop hit in 1969. The rest of the album, save for a nice cover of “Always Something There to Remind Me” is second rate, and then he changed record companies twice and vanished from the scene.
The Greenskeepers – Pleeth – Known (kinda) for their song and video “Lotion”, which alludes to The Silence of the Lambs, the rest of that album is all over the place electronic new-wave that didn’t hit any targets.
Greenslade – Greenslade and Bedside Manners Are Extra – Thanks to streaming radio, I’ve been introduced and beguiled by semi-obscure bands from the past. This is a prog outfit that sprang up in 1972. It’s like ELP, in a sense, but there’s even less of a sense of balance between song and showing off, and the material isn’t that great. Plus, the singer seems out of balance. Dave Greenslade can play keyboards, but maybe he shouldn’t have led a band.
Gym Class Heroes – The Papercut Chronicles and The Papercut Chronicles II. A single doesn’t make an album. Most of their best cuts have guests singing the hooks, and the hits are ALL you need.
Haddaway – All the Best – His Greatest Hits – Now, let’s not mislead the consumer, shall we?
The Happenings – Greatest Hits – “See You in September” is a nice piece of corny nostalgia and deservedly hit #3. Yet, a verrrry white version of “I Got Rhythm” also hit #3, and their version of “Go Away Little Girl” hit #12. The pop charts in 1966 weren’t exactly ‘all killer – no filler’. They make the Four Seasons sound deeply soulful.
Paul Hardcastle – The Very Best Of – He’s got a lot of irons in the fire (smooth jazz, dance music, chill) but this is ostensibly a colleciton of his dance stuff. Yet it omits “Rainforest” which is just as groovy as “19”. N-n-n-n-19.
Noel Harrison – Life Is a Dream – An English actor, very prim and proper in his delivery, he made his bones on stage and nightclub in the UK (being the son of Rex Harrison helped a bit, of course) and had a minor hit with a single from his US TV show The Girl from UNCLE, and got a big splash when “The Windmills of Your Mind”, the theme to the Thomas Crown Affair, was nominated for an Oscar. After that, it was back to the boards.
Wilbert Harrison – An Introduction to Wilbert Harrison and Let’s Work Together. “Kansas City” is sublime, as is the original “Let’s Stick Together”, which morphed into “Let’s Work Together” in 1969 and then covered by Canned Heat. The rest is OK. He was screwed out of his moment in the late 50’s by a lawsuit, sadly.
Corey Hart – The Singles – I, um, almost put this in another place on the site, but you know, Corey tried the best he could. There’s something about his voice that I can’t hate, even if the songs turned to dust as soon as they left the charts (except for “Sunglasses at Night”, of course).
The Edwin Hawkins Singers – Oh Happy Day: The Best of the Edwin Hawkins Singers – If you love gospel choral music, this is for you. The title track was a surprise hit when San Francisco DJ’s started playing it. They had hoped to sell about 500 copies of their album. They did a little better than that!
Roy Head – The Best of Roy Head – “Treat Her Right” is a great stomper with soul. While the Texan had a lot of regional success before this song hit #2 in 1965, none of the follow-ups did much of anything. He was much better on stage than on record, so they say.
Bobby Hebb – Sunny – A true one-hit wonder, but a one-hit wonder that also wrote the song. The rest of this album has some decent tracks, and if you’re a devotee of 60’s soul you could do worse.
Joe Hinton – Essential Soul – “Funny (How Time Slips Away)” is an outstanding R&B weeper (written by Willie Nelson). The rest of his output doesn’t rise match it, and is more journeyman soul. OK, but definitely not essential.
Chris Hodge – 18 Songs – You know, you may want to try to use masters that don’t have scratches and skips in them when releasing a collection from an unknown and forgotten artist. BTW – “We’re on Our Way” is a fantastic single and it sounds clean.
The Honeycombs – The Best of the Honeycombs – There are 30 tracks on this collection. There’s only one you need. “Have I the Right” is a killer to this day, thanks to the pounding percussion, a great low bass line, the snaky guitar line and the neat keyboard flourishes. Lightning in a bottle, it seems.
Mary Hopkin – Post Card – Thanks (I assume) to Apple being Apple (records that is), her albums are the only thing streaming, and not the collections that have the hits (her big hits except for “Those Were the Days” weren’t on her albums). There’s not enough interest for me in her folky wanderings without the appealing hits (music-hally as they are – thanks to Paul McCartney).
The Hues Corporation – Freedom for the Stallion and Rockin’ Soul– Both contain THE hit by them (“Rock the Boat”, of course). The choice is what surrounds it. Wait, it’s not really a choice – it’s all just competent soul / R&B / disco that’s not special.
The Human Beinz – Nobody But Me – As you’d expect, the hit is the thing, and the rest ain’t anything. But their version of “Turn on Your Love Light” is at least decent. They had a second album that was weird-ish and not horrible, and then they had to take a tour of Japan after they broke up thanks to contracts and actually got a ‘live’ album out of it.
Human Sexual Response – Fig. 15 – Orignally Fig. 14, then released with an extra track when put on CD. They had some minor radio play with “Jackie Onassis” and “What Does Sex Mean to Me?”, and they make a decent neo-new-wave funk sound, but they’re puerile as all get out, and they’re forgotten now, deservedly.
The Intruders – The Best of the Intruders: Cowboys to Girls – “Cowboys to Girls” was a big smash for this vocal group, one of the first to go under the loving care of Gamble & Huff. The material wasn’t great, and they weren’t that distinctive. “(Win, Place or Show) She’s a Winner” wouldn’t cut it in this day and age, either.
Wanda Jackson – Greatest Hits – More of a country artist to be honest, she burned up the airwaves in 1960 with “Let’s Have a Party”, one of the great last gasps of rockabilly. That’s basically it unless you liked 60’s mainstream country-politan.
The Jaynetts – The Very Best of the Jaynetts – Everyone should grab a listen or a dozen to “Sally Go ‘Round the Roses”, a big smash for this girl group, which in reality was a few people in the orbit of J&S and Tuff records. When that song was a hit, an album was quickly cut, and everyone moved on, with the personnel who cut the Jaynetts hit cutting other records in different groups. Finally another version of the “Jaynetts” record a few sides in 1965, which are contained in this compilation along with the only song anyone needs by them.
Joe Jeffrey – My Pledge of Love – One of those great soul songs that fell through the cracks. He had one record (sometimes credited to the Joe Jeffrey Group) and fell off the map. I don’t know if what’s streaming is legit or a re-recording.
Jennifer Gentle – Valvende – I think they’re annoying, really, with their high-pitched nasal voices and almost too-fast production with sounds derived from stuff like deflating balloons. Some like it, I guess. I never would have guessed they were Italian, either.
JJ Fad – Supersonic – The hit single was genius, but some of the genius was the LA crew behind the scenes. The other cuts weren’t as genius, and they had one moment in the sun when all was said and done.
Lou Johnson – Soul Legend – This is a collection of his hits and recordings from 1963-65, and is notable for the original 45 version of “(There’s) Always Something There to Remind Me”. He had minor success on the charts, most of them in a cool, lounge singer way. He recorded a later album for Cotillion that I’ll review, since it’s pretty hot.
John’s Children – Orgasm – They had a minor hit “Smashed, Blocked”, which is pretty standard psychedelic fare, and the rest on this album is sub-standard. Their only two notable songs were released when Marc Bolan was in the band. Most of the time they were done in by their own antics.
Bill Justis – Sun King Collection – Bill Justis – George Harrison was turned on to the guitar thanks to “Raunchy” which was a hit for him and others, and inspired Duane Eddy to do his reverb guitar thing that he milked forever. Nothing else is really that great, as most of his stuff emphasizes saxophone instead of guitar.
Kaleidoscope – Pulsating Dreams – There were two bands named Kaleidoscope active during the late 60’s. This is the US version, featuring David Lindley, that started out in the folk and bluegrass movements. They utilized a lot of different motifs and styles from around the world, which was innovative. I didn’t find their stuff compelling for the most part.
Israel Kamakawiwo’ole – Alone in IZ World – RIP.
Ernie K-Doe – Ernie K-Doe Selected Hits (Vol. 1 & Vol. 2) – Ernie did a great job on some classic sides by Allen Toussaint, especially “Mother-In-Law” and “A Certain Girl”. Unfortunately, the streaming collections are bloated with session tracks and outtakes, or remakes. There’s a great Minit Records label compilation that has everything you really need by Ernie.
Johnny Kemp – Secrets of Flying – “Just Got Paid” brings you back to the 80’s dance floor, and “Dancin’ with Myself” (an original) is decent enough to keep you there. But the slow songs ain’t so hot, and everything has those 80’s chiming keyboards everywhere.
Chris Kenner – Land of 1,000 Dances – The title track, “I Like It Like That”, and “Something You Got” sold a lot of records when covered by others. “I Like It Like That” hit #2 for Kenner, but nothing else he performed really struck a big chord.
Kenny & The Kasuals – ’60’s Garage Nuggets – They were too good to be a garage band in the strictest sense. “Journey to Tyme” is one of the BEST singles of the 60’s, period. The fact that it died nationally is of no import. The issue is that they had another song (“Revelations”) that was good in the same vein, but they tried everything to get a hit (covers, love ballads, etc.) and it didn’t work, and then some of them got their ass drafted.
Andy Kim – Greatest Hits – His early stuff, songs everyone has forgotten, has vanished (he hit #9 with “Baby I Love You” and #17 with “Be My Baby”, so thank you Phil Spector and the Ronettes). In the mid-70’s he remeged with “Rock Me Gently”, a song that was perfect for his vocal range and encapsulated the fern-bar singles scene. The follow up, “Fire, Baby I’m on Fire” was a weaker song in the same vein, then he went into icky ballads, some with spoken word interludes.
Gershon Kingsley – Music to Moog By – “Hey, I’ve got this new toy called a synthesizer…” These records were all the rage in the 60’s and early 70’s, but now sound, well, quaint and unnecessary except for the kitsch factor.
Buddy Knox – The Best of Buddy Knox – “Party Doll” is great. The rest of this all depends on your love for mediocre rockabilly.
Adam Lambert – For Your Entertainment – He’s got a flamboyant voice and a flamboyant personality, but he’s probably best served as the stand-in for Freddie Mercury in the current Queen tours. While catchy, his original stuff has no heft behind the hooks.
Nicolette Larson – Nicolette – Decent voice, poor material except for “Lotta Love” (and that’s one of Neil’s most hackneyed compositions, really, I never really liked his version either) and dated production.
Brenda Lee – 20th Century Masters: The Best of Brenda Lee – She charted more songs than any female performer in the 60’s, and when she’s got a neat little rasp in her voice when she emphasizes some verses on a fast number, but most of her work was done in the early 60’s where the quality of pop songs was, well, lacking. “I’m Sorry” is fantastic, but most of the others are kind of assembly-line pop that could have been recorded in the 40’s, to be blunt.
Curtis Lee – Pretty Little Angel Eyes – He struck it big on the title track for his compilation, mainly due to him being an early recipient of Phil Spector’s treatment. The rest of his material is meh at best.
Valerie Lemercier – Chante – She’s a French actress. The album is in French. It’s bubbly, 60’s-esque pop with strings and all the accoutrements. It’s not my thing, but it’s pretty good for those who like a bubbly good poppy time in French.
The Lemon Pipers – The Best of the Lemon Pipers – Hey, it’s not all bad! “Green Tambourine” you know, but there are other psychedelic bubble-gum gems. They got a lot of mileage out of that fake sitar sound.
Len – You Can’t Stop the Bum Rush – Sometimes one-hit wonders self-select their status. The hook for “Steal My Sunshine” will be in my head forever, and yours too.
LeRoux – Last Safe Place – “Nobody Said It Was Easy (Looking for the Lights)” hit the Top 20, and it’s definitely a contender to be on the Yacht Rock boat. There are some kinda nice soft-ish rock (and some mainstream rock) songs scattered through their oeuvre, but there’s no good compilation, and then they tried to rock out in 1982 and lost it totally, with a horrible ‘metal’-ish sound.
The Lettermen – Capitol Collectors Series – I mean, I almost UGGGHED this, but really I gotta give them propers for their harmonies and some of their arrangements. Still, this is MOR pablum for moms – wait – now grandmoms, or great grandmoms.
Bobby Lewis – Collector’s Gold Series – Bobby had a smash in “Tossin’ and Turnin'” which seems to be the story of anyone’s life with stress. (Though he was just 18, it still resonates with me at least.) Another song, “One Track Mind”, was a hit. Like most early rock singers, he was dependent on producers to get him good songs, and without the material he just floundered.
Lew Lewis Reformer – Save the Wail – Lewis was a harmonica player that participated in several 70’s neo-punk revival bands, most notably Eddie & the Hot Rods. He blew a frenetic harmonica on his own combo’s stuff, but everything was manic and rushed and kinda meh in the long run.
Mark Lindsay – The Complete Columbia Singles – The lead singer of Paul Revere’s & the Raiders had a concurrent solo career for a few years in the early 70’s, and at times Lindsay solo records were released under the Raiders moniker. His big solo hits “Arizona” and “Silverbird” kind of say the story – big production MOR designed for the Tom Jones crowd, with a touch of country in there for the Glen Campbell fans.
Lipps, Inc. – Funkyword, The Best of Lipps, Inc. – No, it’s not a one-song record. They did some trade in the disco market, but it was all disposable except for their one stroke of genius. I blame that damn guitar line before the chorus.
The Litter – Distortions – Listen to me: “Action Woman” is probably the best hard-rock proto-metal garage song of the 60’s, by ANY group of any status. The guitar snarls, the drums beat you into submission, the bass is menacing and the vocalist don’t care. There’s feedback, too – maybe inadvertent, but who cares. The rest of the album is mostly covers, done after a change of guitarist, and not as exciting. They released two other records, more psychedelic and even less enthralling.
Little Eva – Playlist: The Best of Little Eva – It’s nice that a comprehensive Little Eva set was released. She had four Top 40 hits in 1962 and 1963, including the one big one in “The Loco-Motion”. But nothing except that song is essential – the rest seems like she was given the leftover songs for the most part.
The Little Girls – Thank Heaven for Valley Pop – A couple of neat KROQ hits (the best being “How to Pick Up Girls”) gave them some hipster cache and spots on New Wave compilations.
Dave Loggins – Apprentice (In a Musical Workshop) – As much as everyone derides “Please Come to Boston”, the rest of the album is fairly competent MOR singer-songwriter 70’s material. Doesn’t mean I’d want it in my catalog, but it’s not horrible.
The Lollipop Shoppe – Just Colour – “You Must Be a Witch” is better served among other great garage / psych singles. This band was stretched to write a b-side, much less an album.
The Manhattan Transfer – The Very Best of the Manhattan Transfer – They had hits and some liked their jazzy vocals and sound, but I grow weary of them quickly. You really didn’t need to add words to “Birdland”, did you?
Marcels – The Best of the Marcels – “Blue Moon” featured on the most innovative bass vocal intros in the history of rock. “Heartaches” had a lesser one, and they really didn’t have any huge hits besides that. Fred Johnson’s the name of that bass singer, and he should be eternally remembered.
The Marketts – Out of Limits! – It would be nice to have a clean, un-re-recorded version of their instrumental hits, but that’s too much to ask, isn’t it?
The Marvelows – The Mighty Marvelows – A mid-60’s doo-wop group that struck it with the fantastic “I Do” (later covered by the J. Geils Band). Their sound was already out-dated a bit when they hit, and wound up releasing this album after one more minor hit, three years after their first success.
Barbara Mason – Yes, I’m Ready – Gotta be careful here. The 1965 hit version of the title track is just 3:04. She did some disco and other type of tracks in the 70’s and that elongated the song by a minute. Don’t get that. Her pre-Buddah tracks need a compilation.
The Matadors – The Matadors – Once in a while, “Get Down from the Tree” will appear on collections. They were a Czech band that mostly recorded covers but had a few originals and were basically decent emulators of UK garage and beat.
Percy Mayfield – Specialty Profiles: Percy Mayfield – He’s more known as a song-writer and for good reason. After a bad car crash he had to give up performing live, but made his bones by writing songs such as “Hit the Road, Jack” and others.
Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis, Jr. – I Hope We Get to Love on Time – After the 5th Dimension, they had one of the classic 70’s singles with “You Don’t Have to Be a Star (To Be in My Show)”. “Your Love” is pretty decent, and then…it kinda gets on bland autopilot. It got them a summer replacement show, though!
Travie McCoy – Lazarus – “Dr. Feel Good” is what I like, and that’s no doubt thanks to Cee-Lo’s hook. It’s just like the Gym Class Heroes – without someone collaborating and providing the hook – it’s just meh.
Jimmy McCracklin – Blues Legend – “The Walk” is a great, timeless song. Check it out. Your enjoyment of the rest depends on your taste for piano or jump blues.
Gwen McCrae – Henry Stone’s Best of Gwen McCrae – She hit with “Rockin’ Chair” after her husband hit with “Rock Your Baby”. Gwen had a few other singles that poked their head on the R&B charts, but nothing really spectacular, and when Henry Stone’s TK Records went under, so did her career.
McFadden & Whitehead – McFadden & Whitehead – They were great songwriters and producers for such acts as the O’Jays in the 70’s, and had a big hit with “Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now”. The album is OK – decent generic disco funk – but nothing to get all excited about.
Meco – Star Wars & Other Galactic Funk – The original album was one side of the Star Wars music disco-fied, and the other, well, “Galactic Funk”. What you really want is the “Star Wars / Cantina Band” edit that was a big hit, and even then probably the 7″ version is the best since the 12″ version goes on and on and on.
Randy Meisner – One More Song – Underrated member of the Eagles, but he’s strained to fill an entire album on his own. “Hearts on Fire” was the hit, and it was a good one.
Melanie – Beautiful People: The Greatest Hits of Melanie – Folky singer had her big chance after Woodstock, with “Lay Down (Candles in the Wind)” with a big help from the Edwin Hawkins Singers. She then went more into novelty / folk with diminishing returns, and now seems to be just a cult artist.
Men Without Hats – Folk of the 80s (Part III) – It all sounds the same! It’s the same song! In more ignomy, the album after this, Pop Goes the World, isn’t streaming and I don’t care enough to call it missing in action.
Thee Midniters – In Thee Midnight Hour!!!!! – It’s not a Billy Childish group, but it’s probably where he got his ‘Thee’ schtick. They were an East LA band that was the first Latino band to hit the charts with a cover of the oft-covered “Land of a Thousand Dances”. Their “Jump, Jive and Harmonize” is wild and untamed, but over an album it all runs together.
Mocedades – Eres Tu’…Todos Los Grandes Exitos – The title of their hits compilation was a huge worldwide smash and is sung today in Spanish classes everywhere. It’s pretty generic 70’s Tom Jones-type pop, sure to please the moms and dads out there. The rest is in the same vein but no nostalgia.
The Moonglows – Their Greatest Hits: The Chess 50th Anniversary Collection – An important group in the evolution of doo-wop and vocal groups. “Sincerely” and “Ten Commandments of Love” put them in the pantheon. Their other output is good doo-wop, and with doo-wop one loves it or doesn’t.
Bobby Moore & The Rhythm Aces – Searching for My Love – You may have heard the title track on oldies or soul collections. The rest of the album is OK, nothing great, but the single has got everything you could ask for in 60’s soul, and cut in Muscle Shoals to boot.
Chris Montez – The Hits and Call Me – The A&M Years – Montez, at age 19, had a couple of hits including the timeless “Let’s Dance”. Four years later, he emerged as a pop / easy-listening crooner and had a couple of hits with some nice sounding sides. It’s rare to see someone in that era have two separate careers, but here you are.
Mouth & MacNeal – Mouth & MacNeal: The Greatest Hits – Their one claim to fame in the US is “How Do You Do”, which na-nah-na-nah’d it’s way to stardom. They had some success in their native Netherlands and one UK hit with a Eurovision song. But listening to all of this now – gawd, what were they thinking, na-nah-na-nah-na-nah-na-nah?
Eddie Murphy – How Could It Be – I think 99% of the people who bought this album only played it through once, except for “Party All the Time”. Murphy has a weak voice, and the material is 11th rate, maybe 12th. But actors and comedians have always wanted to make albums since the dawn of the gramophone, so it’s not like there’s no precedent here.
Gary Myrick – Language – The new-wave roadside is cluttered with dated sounded one-song wonders. “Guitar, Talk, Love & Drums” (which I think is missing an Oxford comma) was his song, though he got a couple of others on the Valley Girl soundtrack. There’s nothing vital or distinctive about his stuff. He’s an OK guitarist, an OK singer and an OK songwriter.
The Mystery Trend – So Glad I Found You – Those who collect garage-band and 60’s singles compilations have no doubt heard “Johnny Was a Good Boy”, a brilliant 1967 single that went nowhere, unfortunately. They never got another chance on record. They were kind of anachronistic for San Francisco, more Sunshine Pop than psychedelic blues, and nothing else really caught my ear on this collection of demos and unreleased recordings.
Bill Nelson – The Love That Whirls – It probably is my ears, since the song “Flaming Desire” was a dance-club new-wave kinda hit here in the US in 1982 but I just can’t get into this. Nelson has rep as an excellent prog guitarist (a second class Robert Fripp maybe).
The Newbeats – The Best of – Everyone and their mother knows “Bread and Butter”, but I didn’t realize the falsetto was by a guy – Larry Henley. They had a few other hits featuring the falsetto coming in out of seemingly nowhere, and just “Run Baby Run” had any lasting cache (hitting in the UK six years after release!).
New Edition – Candy Girl – This material’s not on their MCA collections, and only a couple of tracks jumped at me. The title track, though, is heaven on a platter.
The New Seekers – The Best of the New Seekers – At least this is a small collection. They really had just two US hits “Look What They’ve Done to My Song, Ma” and “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing”, which won the chart battle against the Hillside Singers version (though it was close). It’s all just easy listening goop, with apple trees and honeybees and snow white turtle doves.
Jack Nitzche – The Lonely Surfer – The title cut is a neat use of the studio to create a mood. But he’s a behind the scenes guy and his orchestral work is a taste that I don’t have. Also, don’t read his Wikipedia page unless you want to know what drugs and depression can do.
Ocean – Put Your Hand in the Hand – For all the records that are NOT streaming, this one is still in print, somehow. You know the title cut from the folk mass at church and not this version, I bet, even though it hit #2. You don’t know anything else of this band of Canadian hippies.
Oliver – Oliver – “Good Morning Starshine” is a heck of an ear-worm. “Jean” ain’t. There’s a lot of melodrama on the rest of the cuts.
OMC – How Bizarre – I wasn’t expecting much, and I didn’t get it. The title track is catchy and fun. I guess everyone has one in them if they can harness it.
The Outsiders – Capitol Collectors’ Series – “Time Won’t Let Me” is a timeless song, but the band really never had many more originals in them, despite their Wikipedia page. Trivial trivia – original drummer Jim Fox formed the James Gang, and singer Sonny Geraci formed Climax, because precious and few were the moments the Outsiders were on the charts.
Jeffrey Osborne – 20th Century Masters: The Millennium Collection: Best Of Jeffrey Osborne – He’s got a nice voice and delivery, but the material is schlocky for the most part and the production very 80’s in a non-complementary way. However, our class named the Junior/Senior prom of 1983 “On the Wings of Love” – so yay?
The Osmonds – Phase III – Here because I had this album in second grade, and I found it through some extra-ordinary means (thank you Japanese RAR site!). It’s nostalgia for me. Gunky nostalgia, but still.
The Pandamonium – No Presents for Me…Singles & Rarities – Sometimes all it takes is one song to leave a decent legacy. “No Presents for Me” is a great piece of psychedelic UK rock, and the B-side isn’t bad. They just didn’t have anything else in ’em.
Parachute – Losing Sleep – Sounds good on the radio, but back-to-back you realize how generic they are. Save ’em for the radio when it’ll be a pleasant surprise when it turns up.
Robert Parker – An Introduction to Robert Parker – He had his one glorious single in “Barefootin'”. Nothing else stuck, and his later work for Island is rather blah, even if it is funky-ish.
Bobby Patterson – The Best of Bobby Patterson – You know, all you need is a great song like “TCB or TYA”, and the rest is gravy.
The Penguins – The Best of the Penguins – The recorded quite a few sides, but only hit with “Earth Angel”, which is enough for a career to be honest.
Peter & Gordon – The Ultimate Peter & Gordon – Without Paul McCartney, who gifted “A World Without Love” to them, I don’t think they’d be that well known, if known at all. Some British Invasion fans may stone me, but they’re kinda meh in a mushy way.
The Persuaders – Thin Line Between Love and Hate – My goodness me, how can a group hit with this song and never really make an impact again?
Phil Phillips – Sea of Love – Whether it’s the stand alone album or the collection, Phillips had one time to really shine with “Sea of Love”. The rest of his material is passable late 50’s, early 60’s orchestrated R&B crooning.
Philwit & Pegasus – Philwit & Pegasus – An eccentric producer tried to create a song-cycle fusing classical, easy-listening and pop. It was boring as hell, except for “My What a Lovely Day It’s Been” which is perfect sunshine pop. Ignore the rest unless you need to sleep.
Planet P Project – Planet P Project – Overly long dystopian tales used to be the purview of progressive rockers, not young adult authors. “Why Me” got a lot of MTV play – the rest seems kind of bleak, and definitely sounds dated. BTW – this is bascially Tony Carey, with some lead guitar and drum help. A fine, fine day when this album hit the Top 50.
Plastic Bertrand – Ca Plan Pour Moi – Yeah, it’s a fun song, especially if you remember hearing it long ago. Nothing else is up to that level, not even in camp.
Pop Evil – Lipstick on the Mirror – There’s a hook there, a riff there, but it’s all kinda generic hard rock with an acoustic guitar underpinning. You already know what it sounds like – especially with the mid-tempo so it can be acceptable for radio.
The Premiers – Farmer John – A “live” album which really was recorded in a studio with a group of female admirers in attendance. The attendees kind of detract from some of the proceedings, and well, it’s just a so-so garage band album anyway buoyed by one timeless song.
Primitive Radio Gods – Rocket – Is it fair to judge a record that sounds so generically 1996 in 2016? Well…yeah. The music press excoriated this record, but all I can say is that it’s not better or worse than any bland product from that year.
James & Bobby Purify – Shake a Tail Feather! The Best of James & Bobby Purify – Despite the title, their version of “Shake a Tail Feather” is kind of bland. Their big song is “I’m Your Puppet”. They’re OK, but Sam & Dave were much better and grittier.
Stacey Q – Stacey Q’s Greatest Hits – That should be singular. “Two of Hearts” is kinda fun in a nostalgia way. The rest aren’t.
Eddie Rabbitt – Various Hits Compilations – Thanks to licensing and company fun-and-games, the four songs anyone remembers are on two or three compilations or so. Probably more. At any rate, “Step by Step” can’t exist in the same space as “I Love a Rainy Night” for some reason. Who knows why. This precludes the discriminating consumer from investing hard and heavy into Mr. Rabbitt, or at least harder and heavier than one would. Since I already had those four tracks, I’m not investing anything.
Ray, Goodman & Brown – The Best of Ray, Goodman & Brown – They used to be the Moments, but changed their name thanks to a legal dispute. “Special Lady” is a sweet song, but the rest of their output was rather generic, except for the ‘studio chatter’ they seemed to have before every single.
Real Life – Heart Land – “Send Me an Angel” is the cut for all of us to enjoy, and think back of those great days of MTV. It’s full of synth driven goodness. They had a second Top 40 hit in “Catch Me I’m Falling” which isn’t that great. A couple other tracks were decent enough to spin again, but really you just need to find the original (not re-recorded or remixed) version of the hit.
Republica – Republica – “Ready to Go” is perfect for intros for sports broadcasts, and has been used many times for that purpose. You know you’ve heard it, but admit it, you didn’t know who it was. I didn’t either until this project. As for the album, stick to the song.
Rhythm Heritage – Disco-Fied – It’s probably better to watch old episodes of S.W.A.T, to be honest.
Mia Riddle / James Black – The Ship of Dreams – Each artist gets five songs, but unlike many dual releases their styles totally clash. I’m a Mia Riddle fan, but here she sings acoustic folk songs way too precious for my ears, and Black just rubbed me the wrong way.
Right Said Fred – Hits – “I’m Too Sexy” as pre-made kitsch or camp or whatever you want to file it in. It’s dumb, fun and full of…stuff. Somehow, they’ve been able to release eight albums. More power to them, I suppose.
The Rip Chords – The Best of the Rip Chords – If you really, really, really like classic vocal group surf music, you may like them. “Hey Little Cobra” is great, the rest sound like a cheap Jan & Dean knockoff, though well sung and produced. That’s due to Terry Melcher and Bruce Johnston.
The Rivingtons – The Liberty Years – They were an OK so-so doo-wop group except for their strokes of genius in “Papa Oom-Maw-Maw” and “The Bird’s the Word”. “Kickapoo Joy Juice” is fun, too. The rest? Nah.
Roger – The Many Facets of Roger – “So Ruff, So Tuff” hit the same sweet spot as his band Zapp (“More Bounce to the Ounce”). Decent funk, but the vocoder thing gets old after a while. It’s why I hate autotune over the course of an album. We also don’t need another 10+ minute version of “I Heard it Through the Grapevine”, do we?
The Rooftop Singers – The Best of – I find it hard to believe that these whitey-white-white folkies had 27 songs that qualified for this compilation, but here we are. Walk right in, listen to the first track, baby that’s all you need.
Jackie Ross – Selfish One: The Best of – She made a few good soul / R&B sides in the 60’s for Chess, who tried to make it sound like Motown for sure. I don’t know if it warranted a 43-track “Best Of”. That seems a bit much for someone with one Top 20 hit.
The Routers – Let’s Go! With the Routers and 1963 Great Instrumental Hits – The Routers were a real band about as much as Milli Vanilli. Michael Z. Gordon formed the Routers and other ‘bands’ in the early 60’s to play instrumental originals and covers and he used the best session musicians he could find in LA. The one anyone remembers is “Let’s Go!” which of course EVERYONE knows the hand claps for. Ric Ocasek should send Gordon some royalties.
Billy Joe Royal – Down in the Boondocks and Cherry Hill Park – His discography streaming is kind of a mess. There are two original albums, but most all of the compilations are for his country albums or are re-recordings. There’s some decent work here, and the title tracks are classic 60’s pop. There’s an album in between, with his version of “Hush” and “Yo-Yo”, which isn’t streaming, mainly because the singles tanked. Pick and choose between these two if you liked the singles.
The Royal Guardsmen – Snoopy vs. the Red Baron, etc. etc. – A half-baked Florida pop group got the chance to record a cute novelty song about Snoopy and the Red Baron. You’ve heard it. You’ve probably heard “The Return of the Red Baron” and especially “Snoopy’s Christmas”. Have you heard anything non-Snoopy related by them? No. For good reason.
Ruby & The Romantics – Our Day Will Come – For some reason, there’s not a collection of tracks by them that is streaming, even though they had 11 charting singles and five albums, including a greatest hits. Why some things occur in the music industry I’ll never know.
Sailcat – Motorcycle Mama – A short-lived band that really was more southern rock than anything. The rest of the album, a kinda-sorta concept about a rogue motorcyclist, sounds nothing like the single for the most part.
Samantha Sang – Emotion – It’s MOR, it’s kinda goopy, but it’s partially redeemed by the participation of the Bee Gees, who make everything they touch a little better.
Jack Scott – Best of the Rockabilly Years & Jack Scott’s Greatest Hits – He could sing a ballad, and could sing rockabilly. He was voted Canada’s best ever singer, but his songs didn’t age well and really, only a couple stand out.
Neil Sedaka – The Definitive Collection – It isn’t, because the older songs on this collection are remakes, leaving just a couple tunes from his 70’s comeback worth listening to. I’m reviewing a legit collection later.
The Seekers – Greatest Hits – Not the New Seekers, but the original deal. Very pleasant and white. I mean, white.
Shakespears Sister – Sacred Heart and Hormonally Yours – This kind of British electronic pop music sounds quite dated at this time. “Stay” was the one hit here in the US and their signature song in the UK, and that caused a rift so large that Siobhan Fahey (former Bananarama) decided to end the band by having their publicist announce the breakup at an award show.
The Silhouettes – Get a Job – While the title track is fantastic, the group never ascended the heights again.
Paul Simon – Paul Simon in Concert: Live Rhymin’ – Released to tide fans over between releases, this is a pleasant enough live set but doesn’t add much in terms of the interpretation of the songs.
The Simon Sisters – Winkin’ Blinkin’ and Nod: The Kapp Recordings – Sisters Lucy and Carly (yes, that one) recorded a couple of records in 1964, and got a little run in the folk community. What I hear is olden folk songs that may have inspired the Fairport Convention at some level. If you’re really into folkie stuff, yeah, listen to it.
Sir Douglas Quintet – The Best of the Sir Douglas Quintet – This is NOT a compilation. In fact, this is their debut album. Due to license fun, their first two albums aren’t compiled with their other work (or anything else by Doug Sahm). It’s got its moments, but nothing to the caliber of “She’s About a Mover”, which any music fan worth their salt should have in their catalog. There is another comp out there covering their later work, and another Doug Sahm compilation which picks up “Sunday Sunny Mill Valley Groove Day”, perhaps his best known non-single track.
Sixpence None the Richer – Top Ten – It’s not winning any awards, but “Kiss Me” is a nice slice of nostalgia, and if you like them this is probably the collection to get. There’s a track called “Waiting On the Sun”, which isn’t a cover of the Doors, nor the Jayhawks, but it’s decent.
The Skyliners – The Skyliners: Greatest Hits – Why you’d need 21 cuts from this supper club doo-wop group is anyone’s guess, but “Since I Don’t Have You” is sublime.
Slaughter – Stick It To Ya – Coming at the very end of the hair-metal era, this album had a couple three ear candy metal songs with hooks galore. The rest made Poison seem literate, and then they got…worse. But “Up All Night” and “Fly to the Angels” need their propers.
Frankie Smith – Children of Tomorrow (also known as Double Dutch Bus on later releases) – You can rest assured that you didn’t miss anything by not buying the entire album when “Double Dutch Bus” was a hit. Did you know that the slang Snoop uses (shizzle and all that) originated with Frankie? He explains it all in “Slang Thang”:.Still, give me a HO if you got your funky bus fare!
Sammi Smith – The Best of Sammi Smith – She struck it big with a version of “Help Me Make It Through the Night”, but I couldn’t get into the rest of her oeuvre.
Warren Smith – Rockabilly Legend – Smith was a Southern lad that fell into the orbit of Sun Records, and recorded some rockabilly and country sides for Sam Phillips. Some of his songs hit the country and pop charts and are decent genre exercises, most notably “Rock & Roll Ruby”, “Uranium Rock” and “Ubangi Stomp”. His country singing is passable, and his life after Sun Records kind of sad and tragic.
Smokie – The Collection – Not hugely popular in the UK, but popular enough to keep plugging along since the 70’s. They’re known for mellow 70’s ‘rock’ like “Living Next Door to Alice” and Chris Norman’s duet with Suzi Quatro, “Stumblin’ In.” That’s what you’re basically getting in this collection.
Sneaker Pimps – Becoming X – Trip-hop wasn’t exclusively a Portishead thing, especially in the UK. But it seemed that was the only group to sustain it over an album. Even in a genre where sound is the key, songs matter.]
Sniff ‘n’ the Tears – The Best of Sniff ‘n’ the Tears – Journeyman rock-n-roll band release one great song, and what a song it is. “Driver’s Seat” is one of those songs that has a guitar crunch and great melodies and harmonies. The rest of their stuff proves that they’re journeymen.
The Spaniels – The Very Best of the Spaniels – I love, and you should too, “Goodnite, It’s Time to Go”. You know it. Deep tracks from doo-wop groups are for connoisseurs, though.
Mark Spoelstra – Five & Twenty Questions and State of Mind – One of the ‘new Dylans’ appointed by the folk community in an effort to replace the now-electric Dylan, Spoelstra was a traditionalist with acoustic guitar and liberal anti-war politics. He’s earnest, but aside from a couple of lasting songs sounds dated for the most part. Good listen for folkie die-hards though.
The Springfields – The Very Best Of – Not a band of Rick Springfield impersonators, but Dusty Springfield’s early UK folkie group that also contained her brother Tom and either Tim Field or Mike Hurst. “Silver Thread and Golden Needles” was the first substantial hit by an act from the UK over here (it hit #20 in 1962). It’s OK, but it’s really just good for history or curiosity.
Terry Stafford – Best of Terry Stafford – He sounded a lot like Elvis, and “Suspicion” was a big hit in the US during the Beatles’ reign on the charts in 1964. Like many from his era, he was as good as his material. “I’ll Touch a Star” hit #25, and it’s decent enough. That’s ’bout it.
Jermaine Stewart – Frantic Romantic – He wasn’t a one-hit wonder (he did have a few other charting hits), but his mid-80’s R&B is slight, light on the funk, and heavy on the robotic dance sounds.
The Sting-Rays – From the Kitchen Sink – In short doses, this neo-surf music band is intriguing, but constricted to a nostalgic genre, they seem limited over a full collection.
The Story – Angel in the House – Kinda sorta kinda like the Indigo Girls, only New England-style. I got “Fatso” on a mix CD, and it was OK. I think I’d like them in a coffee shop or something. The issue is the kind of dated production – even in 1993 this sounded dated.
The Strangeloves– I Want Candy – They also have a hits collection with the same name. No matter. They’re just a studio goof (studio musicians pretending to be Australian, of all things) that had three great singles (“I Want Candy”, “Cara-Lin”, and “Night Time”). Three hits better than none, of course!
Technotronic – Pump Up the Jam – Everyone knows the title track. Many people know “Get Up”. Later, “Move This” became a single (and on Ya Kid K’s solo record). Most everything sounds the damn same. Same beat, same keyboard arpeggios, same basslines. Dance, MFer, Dance!
The Tee Set – My Belle Amie – A Dutch band that was popular in the late 60’s in Europe, and had a fluke hit with the title cut of this album. The rest of their output sounds like European pop of the late 60’s – trying to hard to be like Tom Jones. They have an anothology that has 96 (count ’em!) tracks, just in case you can’t get enough of bombastic shout-singing.
Nino Tempo & April Stevens – Deep Purple – A moldy oldy even when they recorded it, the title track is the only thing lasting from this brother / sister duo, though they kept trying for years.
The Tingling Mother’s Circus – A Circus of the Mind – Bubble gum psychedelia was kind of a thing in 1968 / 1969, so Musicor Records assembled some studio musicians led by wunderkind guitarist Elliott Randall (who made his bones playing for Steely Dan in the studio). It’s really not that bad for what it is. Their version of “New York Mining Disaster 1941” is really too upbeat for words.
The Tornadoes – Telstar: The Best Of – An out of nowhere #1 on both sides of the pond, the great organ and guitar lines (the organ was a clavoline, in case you wanted to know) of the title track are permanently fused in the memory of many of us. Most of their time was spent backing Joe Meek’s production line. You certainly don’t need thirty tracks by them.
The Toys – The Toys Sing “A Lover’s Concerto” and “Attack” – They sang other songs too, mostly covers, nothing that special. “Attack” is ok, but “A Lover’s Concerto” is where their meal ticket was.
T’Pau – Bridge of Spies – Here in the US, it was “Heart and Soul” and nothing else. In the UK and Europe, six of the 11 cuts were singles, and four made the Top 20. It’s bombastic pop tripe that only the late 80’s could sustain. The deluxe edition has 37 tracks, which seems like overkill to the nth degree.
Transplants – Transplants– I always look suspiciously at side projects. Sometimes they’re fine; many times they’re self-indulgent. This is Tim Armstrong from Rancid, with one of their roadies and Travis Barker. It’s a punk / hip hop cross that isn’t bad, but it’s probably one of the worst things you can be in a punk / hip hop sense. Boringly safe for the most part.
Conway Twitty – The #1 Hits Collection – This is a collection of his country hits (not his rockabilly hits except for one). Most of the good ones are the duets with Loretta Lynn, which will be covered in full. The rest are schmaltzy country ballads, and I mean schmaltzy. What’s redneck for schmaltzy?
Tracy Ullman – You Broke My Heart in 17 Places – When this first appeared in the US, no one here knew she was a comedian. She took her musical career seriously, mostly, except for “The B-Side” which was the backing side to her huge international hit “They Don’t Know”. She left music after an incident on German TV coupled with the declining sales of her second album. We’re better for it that she concentrated on comedy.
The Uniques – Golden Hits – Heard “You Ain’t Tuff” on the Nuggets collection and it was a tough, tight piece of garage fuzz. This Texas group featured future country star Joe Stampley and most of their other singles were maudlin love song gunk. They do have a couple of pretty decent garage sides, so I grabbed ’em.
The Untamed Youth – Untamed Melodies – Seeing these guys live must have been a hoot, but being a retro-themed band (they’re a surf / garage band relocated to the late 80’s) tends to produce material that’s too reverent or too silly. Plus, this is a 32-track collection, which is just a lot for all but the devoted to modern surf / garage rock tributes.
Vanity Fare – Early in the Morning – “Hitchin’ A Ride” made hitchhiking a sunny fun time activity. Of course, that’s not quite the case. The song, though, is a true earworm. The title track was another decent sized hit. The rest of the record are failed singles of all types and sorts.
Randy Vanwarmer –Warmer and Beat of Love– Yeah, everyone knows “Just When I Needed You Most”, and while that cut is treacle, the production and arrangement are pretty neat (besides the requisite strings and gunky keyboards). His third album had one absolute gem in “Suzi Found a Weapon” (the fact it stalled at #55 is a sad commentary on the charts). There’s a scant few others that are keeper sand the rest are blah variations of a blah theme (soupy ballads or half-hearted pop-rockers).
Bobby Vee – Greatest Hits – This 10 song collection illustrates the dearth of real rock-and-roll in the early 60’s. All strings and goop and no edge. His 1967 comeback song, “Come Back When You Grow Up” has an interesting arrangement, and isn’t just teen schlock. Most of the rest of this is teen schlock.
Vetiver – Vetiver – For those who like that acoustic folk thing, this is right up your alley. It didn’t move me, but that may be my lack of patience.
Bobby Vinton – The Best of Bobby Vinton and Bobby Vinton’s Greatest Hits – His career is split between being a teen-idol crooner of the safest kind, and then Polish polka prince with a popular variety show that appealed to the older set. He had a record company shift in there, so both sides of his career aren’t on one collection (legitimate collection with all originals, I should say). Watch for the remakes, and pick and choose as you dare. All of his songs about loneliness gets a bit old after a while.
Vixen – Vixen – It was time for the ladies to take back the Aqua-Net. And yes, they had a few moments, but generic hair-metal knew no gender.
Roger Voudouris – Radio Dreams – A one-hit wonder with four albums released on a major label (how did that happen?), a few of us remember “Get Used to It”, the top-25 single from this album. The whole record is a product of 1979 through and through, with cheesy synths, strings mixed in the back, a laid-back vibe, and everything pointing to the hook
The Wailers (US) (a/k/a The Fabulous Wailers)- Out of Our Tree and Tall Cool One – Besides the Sonics the Wailers were the royalty of the Pacific Northwest garage and party band scene once the Raiders became national. The fact that a good compilation isn’t streaming isn’t right, because they had some great originals and filled in with popular songs of the day.
Anita Ward – Songs of Love (or Ring My Bell) – No matter the title, there’s really just one go-to song by Ms. Ward. “Ring My Bell” may be the quintessential disco one-hit wonder song. That song went to #1 on the Hot 100, R&B, Dance and the UK charts. Her follow-up hit #87 on the Hot 100 and there you go. There are several permutations of her two disco albums AND re-recordings to be wary of.
We Five – You Were on My Mind – Surprising there’s not a streaming compilation for them. Yet, I bet it would wind up here anyway. Easy listening pablum, though Beverly Bivens had a great voice.
We the People – Declaration of Independence – This compendium of their 60’s singles (they never did release a real album) proves that a couple of hot tracks doesn’t correspond to having enough material for a great collection. For garage band fans, keep to “Mirror of Your Mind” (one of the best 60’s garage tracks) and “You Burn Me Up and Down”>
Mason Williams – The Mason Williams Phonograph Record – “Classical Gas” is, of course, your point of entry, and probable exit. The other songs are heavily orchestrated songs, some serious, some silly, and nothing essential.
Maurice Williams – The Complete Releases 1956-62 and On the Beach – When they were the Gladiolas, they hit with the original “Little Darlin'”. Later, as the Zodiacs, everyone knows “Stay”, and then later, in 1965, they hit with “May I”. The latter is on some collections that may or may not be shady, but at least the original is streaming. As for the rest of their legit catalog, if you’re into doo-wop they’re pretty decent.
Chuck Willis – The Complete Okeh Recordings – This misses his two biggest hits, including “C. C. Rider”, and his tenure as “King of the Stroll”, but is good for those who enjoy older R&B.
Brenton Wood – The Vert Best Of – “Gimme Little Sign” is an all-timer, and he had a couple of other nice hits in the late 60’s. His good stuff dried up but enjoy the good stuff all the same.
Sheb Wooley – The Purple People Eater – Most of his collections have 20 songs too many. Then he had his Ben Colder persona, which was his drunk-ass country singer parody. He’s best remembered as a character actor, really, since aside from “The Purple People Eater” there’s not much here.
Young-Holt Unlimited – The Definitive Young-Holt Unlimited and Born Again– You probably recognize “Wack Wack” and “Soulful Strut”. It’s kinda the same thing, really, but 20 more times. They did start to explore some funk stylings, but they still straddled the jazz/soul precipice, but had chart aspirations so they didn’t really get wild and funky.