Tag: Compilation

Elvis Presley – Command Performances: The Essential 60s Masters II

ARTIST: Elvis Presley              Commandperformancesset

TITLE:  Command Performances: The Essentials 60’s Masters II

YEAR RELEASED: Compilation


SINGLES: Top 40: Flaming Star (#14), Can’t Help Falling in Love (#2), Rock-a-Hula Baby (#23), Follow That Dream (#15), King of the Whole Wild World (#30), Return to Sender (#2, #5 R&B), One Broken Heart for Sale (#11, #21 R&B), Bossa Nova Baby (#8, #20 R&B), Kissin’ Cousins (#12), Do the Clam (#21), Puppet on a String (#14), Frankie & Johnny (#25), Spinout (#40), Clean Up Your Own Backyard (#35)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Long Legged Girl (with the Short Dress On), A Little Less Conversation

LINEUP: Elvis with beaucoups session players

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A follow up to the comprehensive 60s Masters collection, this focuses on the ‘good’ songs from his movies.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: If you ever want a document of the decline and fall (and slight rise) of Elvis, this is for you.

Most people know that as the 60’s moved on, Elvis was mostly a movie star that made soundtrack albums. And those soundtrack albums were much like the movies – slapped together and featuring a disinterested Elvis.

It wasn’t until the NBC Special in 1968 that he snapped out of his torpor, and his work with songwriters Mac Davis and Billy Strange were better than the glop he sang on most of his album soundtracks.

This is good for history, as most of the songs you really know and want you can find elsewhere.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: For some reason this was deleted from streaming, but each and every movie soundtrack is out there, in case you wanted to hear some of the others, like “(There’s) No Room to Rumba in a Sports Car”


GRADE: C: Remember, these are the ‘good’ songs from his movies


Rock City – Rock City

ARTIST: Rock City            rock city

TITLE:  Rock City

YEAR RELEASED: Compilation



OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: An early version of the Big Star songs My Life Is Right, Try Again, and Feel

LINEUP: Chris Bell, Terry Manning, Jody Stephens, Tom Eubanks. Alex Chilton’s on a track.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Early recordings from Chris Bell and his studio friends, before he formed Big Star. There’s quite a bit here worth listening to.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The first track on this collection from Chris Bell’s first band is a lost power-pop classic: “Think It’s Time to Say Goodbye”. Written by Thomas Dean Eubanks (a collaborator that was in the Memphis and was the bassist here), the track is just a magical mix of rock and pop that was a bit before (or after) its time.

The magic found in Big Star was present in some of the tracks, as three of these songs were soon to be on Big Star’s first album. Yet, some of the songs aren’t quite that good (the ballads, mostly, are the ones that fall short) and some really ape the Beatles a bit too much.

Rock City’s material wasn’t released during its time, as soon Alex Chilton would be asked to join and the formation of Big Star was nigh. This group had its charm, with Bell’s voice and production and Eubanks’ songs.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Two of the tracks come from a solo single by Eubanks, and the last is credited to Icewater, a different name for basically the same bunch.


GRADE: B+: Sometimes these archival releases aren’t that great, but this one is and it could have been released as an album in 1970 or 1971 and not be embarrassing at all.

Fire Party – Fire Party

ARTIST: Fire Party                    fireparty

TITLE:  Fire Party

YEAR RELEASED: Compilation



OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: None – this is pretty much a deep historical artifcat

LINEUP: Amy Pickering, Natalie Avery, Kate Samworth, Nicky Thomas.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A groundbreaking band, of sorts. An all-female mixed-race DC punk band.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Amy Pickering was a ringleader in the DC punk scene – the first female employee at Dischord Records, and one of the activists who organized the Revolution Summer movement. After that summer, she formed Fire Party with other female punk rockers, and through their history released these tracks through Dischord or a Peel session. R-1285793-1255903819.jpeg

Pickering’s emotional vocals are the center of the band, but at times I wish they fit in a little better with the music behind her – her melody is off and at times more sing-talky. Yet, the lyrics and her politics are worn out front, which was invigorating for the scene as it was one of the first strong female voices.

For those who are scholars of punk rock, the DC and Dischord scene, or women in rock, Fire Party should be a necessary listen and study. R-417975-1444888508-7828.jpeg

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Drummer Nicky Thomas moved from DC to Seattle and founded Mavis Piggott.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No, but this collection adds a compilation single and Peel session tracks aside from their EP and album.

 GRADE: B: It’s decent DC mid-to-late 80’s punk and a historical first.


The Spinners – The Best of the Spinners

ARTIST: The Spinners                    9000000407909

TITLE: The Best of the Spinners

YEAR RELEASED: Compilation

CHART ACTION: #124, #37 R&B

SINGLES: I’ll Always Love You (#35 US, #8 R&B), Truly Yours (#111 US, #16 R&B), It’s a Shame (#14 US, #4 R&B, #20 UK), We’ll Have It Made (#89 US, #20 R&B), Together We Can Make Such Sweet Music (#91)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Probably not, not by them at least

LINEUP: Billy Henderson, Henry Fambrough, Pervis Jackson, Bobby Smith, G. C. Cameron. Chico Edwards was the lead singer (instead of Cameron) early in their Motown run.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Motown “best” picks and chooses from their scant output in their Motown tenure. best of the spinners


SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The Spinners were a group that Motown inherited in 1964 after they bought Tri-Phi records from Harvey Fuqua, They lasted on the label for seven years, but the company only released two albums and eight singles in all that time.

They were an afterthought for the company until they hit it big in 1972, and then all of a sudden Motown decided to throw out this collection of tracks, and with it another single (that was a B-side before).

It does sound like a crass money-grab, as some of the cuts sound like the master was buried in sad for a while. The Spinners weren’t served well by Motown, and made their bones when they switched labels.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Because of their lack of work at Motown, they had to take second jobs, including chauffeuring other Motown stars aroumd.


GRADE: C: If Motown perceived you as a scond tier band, you get the scraps. These are the scraps.

Ice – T – Greatest Hits

ARTIST: Ice-T                                icet

TITLE: Greatest Hits

YEAR RELEASED: Compilation


SINGLES: Charting: Colors (#70 US, #77 R&B), I’m Your Pusher (#13 R&B, #21 Dance), High Rollers (#9 Rap, #76 R&B, #63 UK), Lethal Weapon (#12 Rap, #98 UK), You Played Yourself (#64 UK), New Jack Hustler (#67 US, #3 Rap, #49 R&B), OG Original Gangster (#7 Rap)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Maybe, if you’re a hip-hop historian

LINEUP: Ice-T with DJs, producers, etc.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A decent collection if Ice-T’s Warner Brothers era.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: First appearing in the public’s consciousness with a cut on the Breakin’ soundtrack, Ice-T moved from electro-influenced raps to a more spare gangsta rap sound, then to a combo of hard rock and rap that manifested itself in the band Body Count, and then exile from Warner Brothers / Sire.

Ice-T’s records sold over time, but didn’t make a huge chart impact until he scored the theme to the movie Colors, then the publicity from the Body Count debacle put his name on the lips of everyone, it seems. As a rapper, his got some gifts – but isn’t as memorable as LL Cool J.

It’s a decent overview of the rapper’s early work, when he was a musician instead of an actor. Still, he’s more of a celebrity than an accomplished artist, even if he was on the leading edge of gangsta rap.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: He’s released more compilation albums than original albums.


GRADE: B-: More of a name than a great artists – though there’s some decent stuff here.

Brenda Holloway – 20th Century Masters: The Millennium Collection – The Best of Brenda Holloway

ARTIST: Brenda Holloway

TITLE: 20th Century Masters: The Millennium Collection: The Best of Brenda Holloway

YEAR RELEASED: Compilation brenda holloway


SINGLES: Charting: Every Little Bit Hurts (#13), I’ll Always Love You (#60), When I’m Gone (#25, #12 R&B), Operator (#78, #36 R&B), Just Look What You’ve Done (#69, #21 R&B), You Made Me So Very Happy (#39, #40 R&B)


LINEUP: Brenda Holloway and the Motown session dudes

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Motown’s replacement for Mary Wells didn’t have the career she should have, as she was seen as temperamental and ‘difficult’.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: One of the first West Coast Motown signings, Holloway’s first single was a big hit and quite memorable. But soon, the label stopped the ‘star making’ machine for her and she seemed to be forgotten for a few years.

Holloway recorded some perfectly fine tracks that went unreleased, or not pushed by Motown so they languished in the charts. She was popular with musicians such as the Beatles, and was good on TV. Still, the last recording success she had was from her own song (“You Made Me So Very Happy”) before she left the Motown circus.

There’s not a lot of Holloway material out there, so this is a good representation. She could have been a big star had Motown let her be as independent as she wanted to be.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: She had to sue Motown and Berry Gordy for royalties resulting from the Blood, Sweat, and Tears cover of “You Made Me So Very Happy”.


GRADE: B: A short but pleasant compilation that makes you wish Motown treated her better.

Seals & Crofts – Seals & Crofts’ Greatest Hits

ARTIST: Seals & Crofts               220px-Seals_Crofts_Greatest

TITLE: Seals & Crofts’ Greatest Hits

YEAR RELEASED: Compilation


SINGLES: Top 40: Summer Breeze (#6), Hummingbird (#20), Diamond Girl (#6), We May Never Pass This Way (Again) (#21), I’ll Play for You (#18)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Oh no, unless your parents were soft-rock Baha’i hippies.

LINEUP: Jim Seals, Dash Crofts, and the best LA session dudes.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Long time writers and sidemen get together and create a string of 70’s hits that are ubiquitous and annoyingly hooky.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: This compilation album (not in any order, really) summed up their first seven albums, and wisely focused on their hits and some of the more harmless tree-hugging hippie stuff while avoiding the controversial tracks and the songs about their faith.

The big hits are ones that everyone knows from their parents, or their dentist, or soundtracks, and they have a tendency to stick into your ears – that’s how well crafted and hooky they are. Their full length records, though, are slogs so this is definitely one to stick with.

It’s not comprehensive, though – a full comprehensive overview is not streaming. So this misses their last big big hit. seals crofts high 5

NOTES & MINUTIAE: “Get Closer” (#6) was released the year after this collection came out. It’s on a smaller Rhino comp. The best part of that song is the vocal by Carolny Willis, who used to be in Honey Cone.


GRADE: C+: Downgraded for being incomplete and out of order, and somewhat for being full of ear worms.

The Stylistics – The Very Best of the Stylistics…and More!

ARTIST: The Stylistics                     stylistics

TITLE: The Very Best of the Stylistics…and More!

YEAR RELEASED: Compilation


SINGLES: Top 5: Betcha By Golly Wow (#3 US, #2 R&B, #13 UK), I’m Stone in Love with You (#10 US, #4 R&B, #9 UK), Break Up to Make Up (#5 US, #5 R&B, #34 UK), Rockin’ Roll Baby (#14 US, #3 R&B, #6 UK), You Make Me Feel Brand New (#2 US, #5 R&B, #2 UK), Heavy Fallin’ Out (#42 US, #4 R&B), Sing Baby Sing (#3 UK), Can’t Give You Anything (But My Love) (#51 US, #18 R&B, #1 UK), Na-Na Is the Saddest Word (#5 UK), Can’t Help Falling in Love (#52 R&B, #4 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: You’ll Never Get to Heaven (If You Break My Heart) (#23 US, #8 R&B), Let’s Put It All Together (#18 US, #8 R&B, #9 UK),

LINEUP: Russell Thompkins, Jr., Airrion Love, Herbie Murrell, James Smith, James Dunn

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A hits plys more collection of one of the classic soul vocal groups from the 70’s.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Russell Thompkins, Jr.’s falsetto was the perfect vehicle for the Stylistics and producer Thom Bell. Bell, with lyricist Linda Creed, constructed melodies, lyrics, and arrangements that perfectly fit Thompkins’ voice. Lush, romantic, and pleasing to soul and adult contemporary fans, the Stylistics were the go-to romantic jam for the early-to-mid 70’s.

Up until the smash “You Make Me Feel Brand New”, Bell worked with the Stylistics, but when he left, the hits dried up in the US, while they were still popular in Europe. Eventually, they gave in to the disco era, and that was pretty much the end of the gravy train – and the end of this collection shows it.

Still, the first half plus is fantastic, and a must for everyone nostalgic of the 70’s, or heck, even those who just love slow jam soul vocals.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: While Russell Thompkins, Jr. sang lead most of the time, their biggest US hit started with Airrion Love singing lead.


GRADE: A-:  There are two smaller comps, but the deep cuts of their early work are worth it for this. It does run dry at the end.

Dave Davies – Hidden Treasures

ARTIST: Dave Davies         davies

TITLE: Hidden Treasures

YEAR RELEASED: Compilation


SINGLES: Death of a Clown (#3 UK), Susannah’s Still Alive (#20 UK), Lincoln County, Hold My Hand.

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Mindless Child of Motherhood, Funny Face, Love Me Till the Sun Shines (Kinks releases)

LINEUP: Dave Davies with the Kinks as backing band (Ray Davies, Mick Avory, and either Pete Quaife or John Dalton). Nicky Hopkins and other session players also contribute.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: After some solo singles, Davies was encouraged to record an album in the late 60’s. He had finished some tracks, but it never was released as a full record.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Dave Davies, the guitarist and foil to brother Ray in the Kinks, usually contributed a tune or two for each Kinks record. “Death of a Clown” became a hit as a solo single, and after a few other singles, the record company asked Dave to provide an album.

Not as prolific as his brother, Davies tracks slowly accumulated, but after a couple of singles missed the mark the record company dropped the idea, and even Davies himself was rather relieved.

Yet, the tracks are interesting and have value. Some show up on Kinks albums and B-sides, but some languished in the vault until various compilations came out of the woodwork. This one collects the album as it was proposed and other various Dave Davies tracks credited to the Kinks or solo.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Dave Davies wrote several tracks for his high school girlfriend, whose parents made them break up even though Susannah was with Dave’s child.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: This version is basically the deluxe version of the originally planned album. 

GRADE: B:  Dave’s contributions are underrated, as this collection shows.


Neil Diamond – All-Time Greatest Hits

ARTIST: Neil Diamond            diamond

TITLE: All Time Greatest Hits

YEAR RELEASED: Compilation


SINGLES: Top 10: Cherry Cherry (#6 US), Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon (#10 US), Sweet Caroline (#4 US, #8 UK), Holly Holy (#6 US), Cracklin’ Rosie (#1 US, #3 UK), I Am..I Said (#4 US, #4 UK), Song Sung Blue (#1 US, #14 UK), Longellow Serenade (#5 US), Love on the Rocks (#2 US, #17 UK), Hello Again (#6 US, #51 UK), America (#8 US), Heartlight (#5 US, #47 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Almost every major hit by him is here

LINEUP: Neil Diamond, session musicians

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Almost (ALMOST!) the ultimate collection for every casual Neil Diamond fan.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Singer, songwriter, very serious man Neil Diamond is seemingly timeless. Almost everyone has heard at least one song (especially those attending sporting events), and he’s an artist whose work spans generations. Grandmothers who swooned to him in 1972 are bringing their granddaughters to his concerts now.

This is a collection of all of his big hits until 1983, well, all but one. “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers” is represented, but as a solo song, not his hit duet with Barbra Streisand. The collection is also weirdly sequenced – like they went to a random number generator or something to put the tracks together.

Though he released a lot of albums in the 70’s (with a lot of pretentious album titles), this distills Diamond into one nice-sized chunk for almost everyone who has an inkling that they may like Diamond.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: He didn’t have a #1 album until 2008’s Home Before Dark. 


GRADE: B+-:  The sequencing would be better chronologically. And it missed the Streisand duet.