Released just two months after lead singer Steve Lee's fatal motorcycle accident in Nevada, Swiss rock act Gotthard's third major compilation, Heaven: Best of Ballads, Pt. 2 is a chance to hear the sandpaper-voiced rock icon at his best…
Legacy Recordings, a division of Sony Music Entertainment, will release "Born To Touch Your Feelings - Best Of Rock Ballads", an essential anthology of new and classic recordings from the seminal German hard rock band SCORPIONS, on Friday, November 24.
Hootie & the Blowfish never were cut out to be superstars. They were meant to be the best band at the local bar. They were ordinary guys, and they played ordinary music, the kind that could be heard in any college town on the East Coast or Midwest during the early '90s when the local bar wasn't having grunge night. It was the ordinariness of the music on their 1994 debut, Cracked Rear View, that connected with millions of American listeners – they sounded like everybody's favorite local band. Once they were superstars, their bubble burst fairly quickly as the 1996 follow-up sold considerably fewer than the debut, and by the end of the decade, they had settled into a reliable routine of turning out modest records and touring steadily, without many people outside of their core fans noticing. Their popularity might have declined, but as the 2004 Atlantic/Rhino compilation The Best of Hootie & the Blowfish (1993 Thru 2003) illustrates, their music changed very little over the course of the decade, nor did the quality of their music decline.
Born John Barry Prendergast to a father who owned a cinema and a mother who played piano, all the elements were in place for John to develop his career as he did. Even when he had to do national service, he managed to secure a job as an army bandsman, so he managed to use that period to hone his craft. John first came to prominence via his recording of Hit and miss, which became the theme to the TV show Jukebox jury. Famous as his TV theme became, John's most famous hit is the James Bond theme. This particular compilation, as its title suggests, focuses on John's recordings for EMI. Many of these recordings date from the early to mid sixties, but there are a few from the nineties too. Most of the tracks are instrumentals, but there are also three Shirley Bassey tracks (Goldfinger, Mr Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Diamonds are forever) and a Matt Monro track (Born free) in which John was involved. Two of the Shirley Bassey tracks are famous, but I'd not heard the other one before buying this CD. It was apparently intended as the theme for Thunderball but was dropped in favor of the Tom Jones song Thunderball. There are 25 tracks altogether and the CD comes with a nice booklet. By no means a definitive John Barry compilation, this does at least contain all those early sixties tracks that I particularly wanted and showcases John's versatility as a composer and arranger. Sadly, John died early in 2011 but his legacy in the history of cinematic music is assured.
This is a great reminder of what the best 1980s pop/rock sounded like. It includes most of Pat Benatar's hits, with the unfortunate omission of I Need A Lover, the passionate melodic churner from 1979. It also includes her best album tracks like the poignant Hell Is For Children but her excellent version of Kate Bush's Wuthering Heights is missing. Benatar specialised in powerful rock numbers with strong power chords and catchy hooks, delivered to full effect in her belting voice, like Heartbreaker, Hit Me With Your Best Shot and Love Is A Battlefield. In this sense Benatar was something like a female Meat Loaf and in fact not too far from Bonnie Tyler. But there were also the quiter songs in a more tender voice, like the synth-driven We Live For Love, a pop classic. With 18 tracks, this is a better compilation than Best Shots with its 15 tracks.
When the Scorpions finally broke through to the mainstream in 1982, RCA released numerous compilations of the band's earlier work from the '70s. By no means should one think The Best of the Scorpions is for diehards only – the music here is quite enjoyable. RCA would go on to release several more Scorpions compilations (Best Of, Vol. 2, Hot & Heavy, Best of Rockers 'n' Ballads, etc.), but the original Best Of is still the wisest purchase.