Tag: Compilation

Bo Diddley – The Chess Masters 1955-1958

RTIST: Bo Diddley                                                                     R-4114170-1355710021-1595.jpeg

TITLE: I’m a Man: The Chess Masters 1955-1958

YEAR RELEASED: Compilation

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: Bo Diddley (#1 R&B), Diddley Daddy (#11 R&B), Pretty Thing (#4 R&B, #34 UK), Diddy Wah Diddy, Who Do You Love, Cops and Robbers, Hey! Bo Diddley, Say! Boss Man, Hush Your Mouth, Willie and Lillie, I’m Sorry (#17 R&B), Crackin’ Up (#62 US, #14 R&B), Say Man (#20 US, #3 R&B)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: I’m A Man, Before You Accuse Me

LINEUP: Bo Diddley, Jerome Green, Willie Dixon, Otis Spann, Lafayette Leake, Frank Kirkland, Clifton James, Little Walter, Billy Boy Arnold, Lester Davenport, Jody Williams, Little Willie Smith, the Moonglows, Peggy Jones, the Flamingos.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: BO DIDDLEY!

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: While this collection has alternate versions (which are just as fine as the released versions) that may cause one to skip on occasion, this…this is Bo Diddley.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, Chuck Berry, blah, blah. Bo Diddley’s the man. A great songwriter, performer, guitarist, comedian (no, really, he’s funny – you can’t have done “Say Man” without being a comedian) you name it. If nothing else, you know the rhythm – the African rhythm that’s ubiquitous in rock-and-roll to this day.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: His first few album covers had him playing a regular-shaped Gibson, not his cigar box guitar which was his trademark.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No.

GRADE: A+: HEY! BO DIDDLEY!

Fatboy Slim – Greatest Hits – Why Try Harder

ARTIST: Fatboy Slim                                                         220px-Whytryharder

TITLE: Greatest Hits – Why Try Harder

YEAR RELEASED: Compilation

CHART ACTION: #6 US Dance, #2 UK

SINGLES: Top 30: Going Out of My Head (#28 Alternative, #57 UK), The Rockafeller Skank (#76 US, #39 Modern Rock, #21 Mainstream, #2 Dance, #6 UK), Gangster Trippin (#3 UK), Praise You (#36 US, #2 Alternative, #22 Mainstream, #1 UK), Right Here, Right Now (#2 UK), Sunset (#9 UK), Demons (#16 UK), Slash Dot Dash (#12 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Not here – UK of course.

LINEUP: Fatboy Slim (Norman Cook) and his arsenal of samples and production tricks

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: The casual fan’s best bet for a Fatboy Slim collection.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Full albums of Fatboy Slim could be a tiring ordeal for a non-devotee of electronica, thus this collection is probably the best way to grab what you want from him. WhyTryHarder-AmericanVersion

For the most part, this collection uses the single versions of the songs, which condense the tracks towards a radio length and not a dance-floor length, and while Cook is a skilled innovator, 60-70 minutes of electronics, samples, and production whiz-bangs can get boring especially if it seems the same ideas are being offered.

His choice of samples is great and obscure, as you really have to dig for the sources – that’s great. This highlights his strengths and allows the listener to focus, and shuffle, as they see fit.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: He was the bass player in the great Housemartins.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No, but there are re-mix collections around.

GRADE: A-: Fantastic, but small doses for me, please.

James Brown – The Singles Vol. 4: 1966-1967

ARTIST: James Brown                                 brown vol 4

TITLE: James Brown: The Singles Vol. 4: 1966-1967

YEAR RELEASED: Compilation

CHART ACTION: #None

SINGLES: Charting: Ain’t That a Groove (#42, #6 R&B), It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World (#8, #1 R&B), Money Won’t Change You (#53, #16 R&B), Don’t Be a Dropout (#50, #4 R&B), Bring It Up (#29, #7 R&B), Kansas City (#55, #21 R&B), Think (#100 ), Let Yourself Go (#46, #5 R&B), Cold Sweat (#7, #1 R&B), Get It Together (#40, #11 R&B)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: He covers The Christmas Song, I Loves You Porgy, and Mona Lisa

LINEUP: James Brown, the Fabulous Flames, and his band.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A productive period for Brown, though there’s still a lot of fluff with some instrumental singles released from his ill-fated dalliance with Smash Records.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: James Brown, ahead of his time. “Bring It Up” has a parenthesis “Hipster’s Avenue” on occasion. (Hipster). He encouraged kids to stay in school. “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World” is actually a song praising women. There’s proto-funk workouts in “Money Won’t Change You” and “Get It Together”, all culminating in “Cold Sweat”, which is a signature song, and kicked Brown off into the stratosphere in pop culture.

You can hear the evolution of tracks here. “Let Yourself Go” is a bridge leading toward “Cold Sweat”. His band callouts on several long tracks lead to later tracks where he just vamps and calls out for solos. A cut like “Stone Fox” is a guitar workout that was rare in soul circles.

The flaws here are some of the organ-based instrumentals left over from Smash Records, and his attempts (well meaning but flawed) at singing standards. The instrumentals don’t add much to his legacy, and he’s not a traditional singer. Still, even with those, this is primo stuff.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: A couple of cuts are credited to the James Brown Dancers. OK, then.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No.

GRADE: A-: Sprawling, but exciting and the high points are definite touchstones in music history.

Slave – From the Archives

ARTIST: Slave                                         slave

TITLE: From the Archives

YEAR RELEASED: Compilation

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: Top 40: Slide (#32 US, #1 R&B), Stellar Fungk (#14 R&B), Just a Touch of Love (#9 R&B, #26 Dance, #64 UK), Watching You (#78 US, #6 R&B, #23 Dance), Snap Shot (#91 US, #6 R&B, #21 Dance), Wait for Me (#103 US, #20 R&B)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Deep funk affecionadoes, maybe. Else, no.

LINEUP: Floyd Miller, Steve Washington, Tom Lockett, Carter Bradley, Mark Adams, Drac Hicks, Danny Webster, Bimmy Wihoite, Tiny Dozier, Steve Arrington, Shtarleana Young, Curt Jones, Ray Turner – then Charles Carter and Sam Carter, Roger Parker, Delbart Taylor, Kevin Johnson. The revolving door hit in 1981.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A Dayton, Ohio funk band (same area that spawned the Ohio Players) had some R&B success with a tasty funk blend with horns.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The key to 70’s funk is the pocket – you can have all the stuff surrounding it, but without the groove in the pocket you’re done. Slave can provide the groove (just listen to “Slide”), and for a time they were worthy successors to the Ohio Players and others.

Funkier that EWF, but not as deep as George Clinton’s conflaguration, Slave made some radio and dance floor friendly music, and had some great players such as Drac Hicks on guitar and Mark Adams on bass.

The band started to split apart when four members split off to form Aurra, and the hits dried up. This collection is a good overview of their hit era, and steers you away from the re-recordings.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Founder Steve Washington played an ‘electric’ trumpet.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No. there are two remixes, that aren’t necessary.

GRADE: B+: Late 70’s funk for late 70’s funk lovers. Get in the pocket!

Ginuwine – Greatest Hits

ARTIST: Ginuwine            220px-Ginuwine_-_Greatest_Hits_(LQ)

TITLE: Greatest Hits

YEAR RELEASED: Compilation

CHART ACTION: #42 R&B

SINGLES: Top 10: Pony (#6 US, #1 R&B, #16 UK), What’s So Different (#49 US, #21 R&B, #10 UK), So Anxious (#16 US, #2 R&B), None of Ur Friends Business (#48 US, #7 R&B), Differences (#4 US, #1 R&B), Stingy (#33 US, #7 R&B), Hell Yeah (#17 US, #16 R&B, #27 UK), In Those Jeans (#8 US, #3 R&B)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Get it together, it’s Ginuwine

LINEUP: Ginuwine and producers + session musicians

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A good overview of the R&B singer’s early successes.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: After his fifth album laid an egg, Epic Records decided the best thing to do with Ginuwine was to wrap up his career with the lable with a best-of collection.

This fits, as in listening to the regular Ginuwine albums, he tends to put skits and extra un-musical items onto his album tracks, which disturbs the flow and caused me to eject the rest of his catalog in favor of this collection.

It’s not the perfect overview, but it’s good enough for now and we can wait for another, fuller, compilation later – at least we can hope.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: I was in process of reviewing his second album, but the skits and extra material was just too much to deal with.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No, but there’s a UK version with added tracks and a different order.

GRADE: B: If you’d combine the US and UK versions, this would be a higher letter grade, maybe.

 

The Scorpions – Best of Scorpions / Best of Scorpions, Vol. 2 / Gold

ARTIST: Scorpions                                        220px-BestOfScorpions

TITLE: Best of Scorpions / Best of Scorpions Vol.2 / Gold

YEAR RELEASED: Compilation(s)

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: In Trance, Speedy’s Coming, Virgin Killer, Pictured Life, He’s a Woman-She’s a Man, Sailes of Charon, All Night Long

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Maybe?

LINEUP: Klaus Meine, Rudolf Schenker. Most cuts had Uli Jon Roth and Francis Bucholz. Michael Schenker was on one track and wrote others. Herman Rarebell, Wolfgang Dziorky, Rudy Lenners, and Jurgen Rosenthal were the drummers (among others).

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Mishmosh of compilations cover the RCA years for the Scorpions. 220px-The_Best_of_Scorpions_Vol._2

 

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The Scorpions, Germany’s longest lasting hard rock / metal band, had two decades where they were one of the best known bands in Europe, and built a fan base over the years in the US that resulted in a mid-80’s explosion before throwing it all away in the late 80’s with a turn towards more pop than metal.

Their 70’s catalog, featuring Uli Jon Roth on lead guitar (for the most part) mixed prog elements with hard rock, and Roth was an inventive guitarist adding surprising elements to the mix. While they had questionable taste in record covers (they blamed RCA for the most part – and one album shut down Wikipedia for four days in the UK at one point), and their albums weren’t so consistent track-for-track, the best tracks definitely stand up.

YET – their 70’s streaming is a mess. Two full albums (their first, which has just one track on any of these comps – and their third) are streaming, and the comps are EXCEPT for one song – the killer “He’s a Woman – She’s a Man”. The seminal live album Tokyo Tapes isn’t streaming either. 51HDAZ4KC8L

The comps don’t replace the full albums in a sense to get what the Scorps were about in the 70’s, but they have to do for now. And someone explain to me why “He’s a Woman…” isn’t streaming.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Michael Schenker was on their first album before UFO scooped him up and they got Uli Jon Roth. Roth left after Tokyo Tapes so these comps encapsulate that era. Gold is mixed with both RCA and EMI recordings.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE: B: Each of the comps isn’t perfect. You could Frankenstein the best cuts for yourself, and there’s enough to do so. But damnit, stream the whole albums guys – especially Tokyo Tapes (which I’ll review itself).

 

Superchunk – Tossing Seeds (Singles 89-91)

ARTIST: Superchunk           Superchunk_tossing

TITLE: Tossing Seeds (Singles 89-91)

YEAR RELEASED: Compilation

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: The A-sides: What Do I, Slack Motherfucker, Fishing, The Breadman, Seed Toss

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: My Noise, Cool

LINEUP: Mac McCaughan, Laura Balance. Jim Wilbur and Jack McCook are on guitar. Chuck Garrison plays most of the drums until the final single, where it’s Jon Wurster.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Singles compilation catches fans up on Superchunk, and is an essential snapshot of the early band.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: While their second album is essential in its own right (and only has one track here, not counting a different version of “Cast Iron”), this collection is a better representative of early Superchunk than their first album.

Here, the band shows love for its influences (the Shangri-Las, Sebadoh, and obscure punk) and the 7” medium (start the song, make your statement, get out).  Tracks like “Slack Motherfucker”, “Fishing”, and “Cool” are anthems for that generation (which was my generation, to be honest, so this does resonate with me) and were great bursts for college radio and other places hip singles could be played.

As with any collection like this, not every B-side or track given to a comp is the best, but this is not just for completists. It’s worthwhile for any Superchunk or rock fan, really.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: One track from their Freed Seed single didn’t make this compilation (their version of Sebadoh’s “I Believe in Fate”)

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE: A-: I’d grab this over their first album for sure.

Deee-Lite – The Very Best of Deee-Lite

ARTIST: Deee-Lite                                                      deeelite

TITLE: The Very Best of Deee-Lite

YEAR RELEASED: Compilation

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: Groove is in the Heart (#4 US, #1 Dance, #2 UK), Power of Love (#47 US, #1 Dance, #25 UK), ESP (#7 Dance), Good Beat (#1 Dance, #53 UK), Pussycat Meow (#6 Dance), Party Happening People (#30 Dance), Picnic in the Summertime (#43 UK), Bring Me Your Love (#1 Dance)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Nah.

LINEUP: Supa DJ Dmitry, Lady Kiss Kier, Towa Tei. DJ Ani was on their final album. Guests like Bootsy Collins and Q-Tip also appear.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Dance act was seen as a novelty by most but introduced club, house, and DJ culture to the masses.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: You know “Groove Is in the Heart” and probably nothing else, but Deee-Lite wasn’t a one-hit wonder on the dance floors.

Their albums were spotty, but when they nailed a concept and a groove (such as in “Power of Love” and “Good Beat”) they were a righteous good-time dance party. As time wore on they shifted from good-times into a bit more social and political dance grooves, and their pop audience filtered away.

This is a good overview, and hits all of the high notes. At the end, it gets a bit repetitive, but dance band records are best in mixes or playlists.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: They still DJ (separately), and Towa Tei moved back to Japan and started a high-concept party place for musicians.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE: B: This shows they were more than one-hit wonders.

Mariah Carey – Greatest Hits

ARTIST: Mariah Carey        220px-Greatest_Hits_Mariah_Carey

TITLE: Greatest Hits

YEAR RELEASED: Compilation

CHART ACTION: #52 US, #7 UK

SINGLES: Well, most all of these tracks.

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Most everyone.

LINEUP: Mariah Carey and countless sidemen, producers, etc.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Diva’s collection of early hits. Essential for a Carey or 90’s pop / R&B fan. The rest of us can take or leave.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: This is a record where criticism is kind of fruitless. This is absolutely essential for fans (her albums are fine, but really, the deep cuts kind of fall away), and those that like 90’s pop. The songwriting and production machine, with Carey’s voice, made her a powerhouse.

The early sound is VERRRRY late 80’s, almost embarrassingly so. But the singing and melodies carry it. Yes, “Fantasy” is basically a total rip of “Genius of Love” but I think the Tom Tom Club got paid big time.

This isn’t in my wheelhouse so I exiled a lot. I can find here predictable, and her ballads overwrought and overly sentimental. But, fans dig that. Fine.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: This ends at 2001. There’s not a good collection of her later hits.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No.

GRADE: B+: I can’t say it’s wonderful, nor can I say it’s crap. It’s really good for what it is and what you want from her.

Queen Latifah – She’s a Queen: A Collection of Greatest Hits

ARTIST: Queen Latifah                       220px-She's_A_Queen_album_cover

TITLE: She’s a Queen: A Collection of Greatest Hits

YEAR RELEASED: Compilation

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: Charting: Ladies First (#64 R&B, #5 Rap, #38 Dance), Come Into My House (#81 R&B, #21 Rap, #7 Dance), Latifah’s Had It Up 2 Here (#13 R&B, #8 Rap), UNITY (#23, #7 R&B, #3 Rap), Just Another Day (#54, #37 R&B, #11 Rap), Black Hand Side (#29 R&B, #20 Rap), It’s Alright (#76), Paper (#50, #23 R&B)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Nah

LINEUP: Queen Latifah with guests Monie Love, Organized Noize, and Tha’ Raine and producers.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Overview of the hip-hop era of Queen Latifah, which seems slight.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Queen Latifah recorded four albums and several soundtrack cuts, and entered pop culture as a strong female in a very male dominated genre. Yet, the compilations for this era are quite sparse, and don’t have the depth you’d expect for an artist with this much cache.

Latifah’s moved on to bigger and better things, and has made more of an impact now as an actress and singer, but this era needs to be explored more. The original albums are still out there, so perhaps that’s where one should go to really flesh out her catalog.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Her charting positions don’t indicate her impact – her highest charting album in this era hit #60 on the Top 200, and only one was a Top 10 Rap album.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No, there’s a smaller collection out there with only 10 songs and four tracks not on this collection – why not combine them?

GRADE: B-: The grade is for the slight selection, which makes a B+ possibility a B-.