Wednesday, 3 May 2017

"Hit List 2: More Hot 100 Chartbusters of the 70s" by VARIOUS ARTISTS (August 2016 Ace Records CD - Nick Robbins Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...

"...Rocky Mountain Way..." 

Making a Various Artists CD compilation like this is harder than it would appear - I’ve tried it many times and made hundreds when I worked at Reckless Records in Islington and Soho. 

And when I played August 2016’s "Hit List 2: More Hot 100 Chartbusters of the 70s" by VARIOUS ARTISTS on Ace CDCHD 1480 (Barcode 029667076722) - it started out well and looked good - but then went quickly off the wagon...

1. The Doobie Brothers - China Grove
2. Dobie Gray - Drift Away
3. Fanny - Charity Ball
4. The Allman Brothers Band - Ramblin' Man
5. Joe Walsh - Rocky Mountain Way (Single Edit)
6. The Messengers - That's The Way A Woman Is
7. The Band - Rag Mama Rag
8. The Gentrys - Cinnamon Girl
9. Ace [with Paul Carrack] - How Long
10. The Jaggerz - The Rapper
11. The Hollies - Long Cool Woman (In A Black Dress)
12. Bread - Everything I Own
13. Frijid Pink - House Of The Rising Sun
14. Teegarden & Van Winkle - God, Love, And Rock & Roll (We Believe)
15. Elvin Bishop - Fooled Around And Fell In Love
16. Dave Loggins - Please Come To Boston
17. Three Dog Night - Sure As I'm Sittin' Here
18. Carly Simon - Anticipation
19. Rick Derringer - Rock And Roll Hoochie Koo
20. Linda Ronstadt - When Will I Be Loved
21. Bo Donaldson & The Heywoods -Who Do You Think You Are
22. Alice Cooper - Teenage Lament '74
23. Orleans - Still The One
24. Reunion - Life Is A Rock (But The Radio Rolled Me)

Who doesn't love the brill riffage of "China Grove" by The Doobie Brothers (from 1973's "The Captain And Me" LP) and absolutely any excuse to put the gorgeous "Drift Away" by Dobie Gray onto a CD is fine by me (a 1973 R&B hit on Decca in the States that Rod Stewart covered so well on his 1975 "Atlantic Crossing" LP). The hugely appealing "How Long" by Ace (with Paul Carrack), the upbeat yacht rock of "Still The One" by Orleans (with John Hall) and the beautiful Soul-Rock of "Fooled Around And Fell In Love" by Elvin Bishop are all very smart choices too – great 70ts songs that are largely forgotten and deserve rediscovery. But when you get into the second half of the list - things start to go awry rapido.

I can understand putting on rarities like Teegarden & Van Winkle, Dave Loggins, Frijid Pink and Bo Donaldson & The Heywoods to tempt single collectors - but are they actually any good and the answer is no. Throw in stuff like "Long Cool Woman In A Black Dress" by The Hollies, the weedy "Ramblin' Man" by The Allman Brothers and "Everything I Own" by Bread as well as Carly Simon, The Band and Linda Ronstadt - all of which are way too common on CD compilations and the listen starts to feel a lot less interesting and more like a lazily programmed radio show. You could of course endlessly debate what should be on here – but for my bent penny's worth how about Heads, Hands & Feet "Warming Up The Band" or "Slow Down" by John Miles or the single edit of "Heartsong" by Gordon Giltrap or the stunning instrumental Funk-Rock boogie of "Rumplestiltskin" by Rumplestiltskin - a monster B-side which was recently used to such amazing effect in the Amazon TV series about Hugh Heffner and Playboy magazine?

Speaking of collectors - fans should note that the version of "Rocky Mountain Way" by Joe Walsh is the single edit at 3:39 minutes and to my knowledge is an exclusive here. A genuine discovery is The Gentrys doing a cover version of Neil Young's "Cinnamon Girl" from 1970 that sticks close to the rocking original - it's a real blast. But "Teenage Lament '74" by Alice Cooper and the hammy "Rock And Roll Hoochie Koo" by Rock Derringer are actually my idea of Rock Hell. The Fanny track and the Three Dog Night song both feel second rate too (they've done so much better like Three Dog Night's "I Can Hear You Calling" - a cover of a Bush song) - while the final cut by Reunion is best left firmly in someone's delete bin never to be retrieved.

The booklet is the usual 20-page fact-and-pic feast from Ace with liner notes by TONY ROUNCE - a man with more musical knowledge than John Reed - and that's really saying something. The audio is great throughout (a generous playing time of 76:14 minutes) – NICK ROBBINS masters – a longstanding and much praised Audio Engineer.

To sum up - great audio and superb presentation as always with Ace Records and their cool CD compilations - but unfortunately for 2016's "Hit List 2" - I'd advise a listen first...

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Spines of Exceptional CD Remasters

Spines of Exceptional CD Remasters

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