Pruning 16 tracks from Hopkins' extensive catalog for a best-of meant that some hard choices had to be made. The ones Rhino came up with won't satisfy everyone, but the label did take the correct road by sticking exclusively to the earliest part of his career, 1947-61. Perhaps the decision will offend some fans who feel that his 1960s and '70s work should be represented, but two things should be acknowledged. First, Hopkins, as is the case with most artists, did his most interesting recordings in the earlier part of his career. Second, as is the case with many blues artists, he did not vary his approach substantially throughout the decades. So what you have is a good assortment of his first 15 years on disc, taken from about ten labels, including both originals and covers, and placing the singer/guitarist in various instrumental contexts: with a full electric band (Sonny Terry is on a couple of 1961 cuts), as a solo guitarist, or accompanied by nothing more than a bass or additional guitarist.
The Very Best of Jimmy Somerville, Bronski Beat and The Communards is a compilation album covering Jimmy Somerville's career in Bronski Beat, The Communards and as a solo artist. It was released in 2001.
Twenty-five tracks round up an extremely haphazard but nevertheless intriguing "best of" Marc Bolan's last five years, drawing equally from the regular albums and familiar boogies, and the wealth of archival material excavated by the Unchained and Alternate series. Certainly not compiled with the hit hunter in mind (only "The Groover" and "Dreamy Lady" truly fall into that category), Very Best of, Vol. 2 is instead devoted to illustrating as many facets of Bolan's career as it could, from the pensive introspection of "Spaceball Ricochet," to the grinding self-aggrandizement of "The Groover," and onto the sharp autobiography of "Over the Flats" and "Funky London Childhood." As such, and especially when viewed in tandem with Very Best of, Vol. 1, it serves up a delightful portrait of Bolan's '70s, at a price that is difficult to squabble with.
Sultans of Swing: The Very Best of Dire Straits is the second greatest hits compilation by the British rock band Dire Straits, released on 19 October 1998 by Mercury Records internationally, and by Warner Bros. Records in the United States. The album was originally released, featuring liner notes by Robert Sandall, as both a one-disc edition and two-disc edition. The second disc contains live performances. The release is named after the band's 1978 hit single of the same name. The compilation was re-released together with a DVD in 2002.
One of the unsung heroes of 1970s soul, Willie Hutch was never the big name he deserved to be. The smooth singer/composer had a few major and moderate hits, but commercially, he didn't make it to the level of Marvin Gaye, Ronald Isley, and Curtis Mayfield (all of whom he inspires comparisons to). Released in late 1998, The Very Best of Willie Hutch spans 1972-1982 and reminds us how engaging a singer he was in his heyday. Hutch could get funky when he wanted to, and he does so with splendid results on "Get Ready for the Get Down" (a number 24 R&B hit), "Brothers Gonna Work It Out," and the theme from the 1973 blaxploitation film Foxy Brown. But for the most part, Hutch made his mark as a romantic crooner. It is Hutch's smooth, romantic side that prevails on "Sunshine Lady," "I Choose You," "What You Gonna Do After the Party," and his inspired makeover of Barbra Streisand's "The Way We Were." Appropriately, the CD opens with Hutch's biggest hit: the perky, feel-good anthem "Love Power," which went to number nine on the R&B singles charts. Full of gems that were recorded during Hutch's peak years, this CD is essential listening for lovers of 1970s soul.
One of the most interesting and difficult-to-categorize singers in '60s pop, Gene Pitney had a long run of hits distinguished by his pained, one-of-a-kind melodramatic wail. Pitney is sometimes characterized (or dismissed) as a shallow teen idol-type prone to operatic ballads. It's true that some of his biggest hits – "Town Without Pity," "Only Love Can Break a Heart," "I'm Gonna Be Strong," "It Hurts to Be in Love," and "Twenty Four Hours From Tulsa" – are archetypes of adolescent or just-post-adolescent agony, characterized by longing and not a little self-pity.