Neil Diamond's five-decade career as a singer, songwriter, and performer has certainly been a successful one by any standard. He’s sold well over 115 million records worldwide to date and has had eight number one singles ("Cracklin Rosie," "Song Sung Blue," "Desiree," "You Don't Bring Me Flowers," "Love on the Rocks," "America," "Yesterday's Songs," and "Heartlight"), and if he hasn't always generated the kind of critical respect he probably deserves, he’s been a steady and dependable artist who has managed to keep his large core audience happy. This 23-track set surveys the whole of Diamond's recording career, collecting his key and signature sides, beginning with his first hits for Bang Records in the mid-'60s through his commercial peak for Uni/MCA between 1968 and 1972, cuts from 1980’s The Jazz Singer (a soundtrack album that went platinum five times over on Capitol Records), and ending with tracks from Diamond's two Rick Rubin-produced albums, 2005’s 12 Songs and 2008’s Home Before Dark, on Columbia Records. Amazingly, this is the first multi-label single-disc collection of Diamond's signature songs like “Forever in Blue Jeans,” “Cherry, Cherry,” “I Am…I Said,” “Sweet Caroline,” “Cracklin’ Rosie,” “I’m a Believer,” “Holly Holy,” “Solitary Man,” “Song Sung Blue,” “Kentucky Woman,” “Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show,” his hit duet with Barbra Streisand “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers,” and many others. The end result is the perfect career-spanning single-disc introduction to this iconic singer and songwriter.
Active through four decades, Danish duo known most for their descriptively titled "Sunshine Reggae" and its electro-funk B-side, "White Horse." As Laid Back, Copenhagen, Denmark-based duo Tim Stahl and John Guldberg are known most for a handful of stylistically disparate hits that spanned the 1980s. The duo had met the previous decade with the Starbox Band, discovered that they worked well together, and within a short period of time landed a contract as Laid Back on Teldec subsidiary Ultraphone. Their first single, "Maybe I'm Crazy," was released in 1980, preceding their self-titled debut album released the following year. Two years later, they signed with the Medley label and scored a hit in their homeland and abroad with the descriptively titled "Sunshine Reggae," released in support of their second album, Keep Smiling.
Atomic: The Very Best of Blondie is a compilation album of recordings by the band Blondie released by EMI/Chrysalis Records in the UK and the rest of Europe in late 1998, at the time when the band reunited and shortly before the beginning of Blondie's successful comeback tour. Atomic: The Very Best of Blondie includes the band's best known songs from the 70's and 80's as well as two new remixes of the title track. The compilation reached #12 on the UK charts and was certified platinum.
Coinciding with the 35th anniversary of Denver's first album release on RCA, this two-disc, 25-track overview of the country-pop singer's storied career is the most concise and nuanced yet. Digitally remastered from the original master tapes, road-trip classics like "Take Me Home, Country Roads," "Rocky Mountain High," and "Back Home Again" are as warm as the singer's lauded tenor. There are no gimmicky re-recorded cuts or disappointing live tracks – "Thank God I'm a Country Boy" spent its time on the charts in its live incarnation – and his spotty '80s material is only briefly covered ("Perhaps Love" and "Shanghai Breezes"). For those unwilling to sift through the exhaustive four-CD Country Roads Collection, Song's Best Friend: The Very Best of John Denver is a good buy and a rewarding visit with an old friend.
Ever since Joe Jackson's debut album, Look Sharp, yielded his first single in "Is She Really Going Out With Him?" in July of 1979, which peaked at number 21 on Billboard (the album hit number 20), his career has seen him investigate a multitude of musical styles with clean-cut charm and poise. Jackson has dabbled in everything from reggae, disco, and soul to power pop, jazz, and even big band. Stepping Out covers 15 of his biggest singles, including his highest chart-topper, "Stepping Out," which hit number six on Billboard's Top 40, from the suave sounding Night and Day album. The downhearted appeal of "Breaking Us in Two" appears here as well, along with the salsa- flavored "You Can't Get What You Want (Till You Know What You Want)," which reached number 15 and was the strongest track from 1984's Body and Soul album. Outside of his chart appearances, the rest of this hits collection holds up well. Jackson's voice is heard in wispy detail on "Fools in Love," while his humor and wit explode on "I'm the Man" from the album of the same name. The live release entitled Big World from 1986 is spoken for with both "Right and Wrong" and the candid allure of "Hometown."
With a deeper and broader track listing than most ABC compilations, Look of Love: The Very Best of ABC more or less lives up to its name. Concentrating on the band's glory days, the album covers the highlights of ABC's first five albums, including de rigeur hits like the title track, "Poison Arrow," "When Smokey Sings," "Be Near Me," and "How to Be a Millionaire," as well as album tracks like "S.O.S.," "All of My Heart," and "The Night You Murdered Love." While some of the later inclusions, such as "The Real Thing," don't quite pack the punch of ABC's prime work, the 2001 track "Peace and Tranquility" fits in with the earlier material surprisingly well. Likewise, the somewhat random track listing might be somewhat annoying to anyone trying to track ABC's chronological development, but it does spotlight how consistent their brand of suave synth pop is. With a new song, a more diverse track listing, and no unnecessary remixes, Look of Love has a slight edge over Absolutely ABC: The Best of ABC as the group's definitive retrospective.
Even geniuses (maybe especially geniuses) are taken for granted, not seen as geniuses, or only appreciated in small doses. Which is a grandiose way of saying that, no matter how partisans may complain, there are many listeners out there that don't want to delve into the deliriously rich catalog of Prince and would rather spend time with a single disc of all the hits – especially since the first singles compilation was botched, spread too thin over two discs and sequenced as if it were on shuffle play.
Originally a two-LP set, The Very Best of Poco was a decent compilation in its time, assembling the group’s best-known songs from singles and album cuts in a straightforward order with no particular surprises.
2011 two CD collection from the Jazz/Pop vocal quartet. Formed in New York City in 1969, The Manhattan Transfer rose to the top of the UK charts in 1977 with 'Chanson D'Amour,' a record that kicked off a love affair between the British public and the vocal quartet. They racked up eight further UK chart entries, all of which are included in this 40-track retrospective. Effortlessly switching from Rock 'n' Roll to Pop, Bebop, old time Gospel, Bossa Nova and '30s Jazz Swing, this set demonstrates why The Manhattan Transfer are considered the most versatile vocal harmony group on the planet.
The Very Best of Marianne Faithfull' is a particularly strong collection of Marianne's earliest recordings made for Decca between 1964 to 1968. This album contains every one of her singles which made the charts both in Britain and America during those fruitful four years.
Originally a European compilation, The Very Best of Supertramp is the closest thing to a definitive overview of the '70s pop-prog group. Certainly, there will be hardcore fans who will notice some favorite album cuts missing – after all, despite their considerable success on the pop charts, Supertramp was as much an album rock band as ELP or Genesis – but all the hits are here, from "Bloody Well Right" to "It's Raining Again," as well as a sizable portion of their blockbuster Breakfast in America. That alone will make it worthwhile for all casual fans, but what's really nice about the collection is that it flows very smoothly, even if it isn't in chronological order. There have been other Supertramp compilations, but The Very Best of Supertramp stands head and shoulders above the rest.