The Alan Parsons Project is a "project" of acclaimed English producer Alan Parsons, best known for his works as an engineer with with names such as the Beatles (Abbey Road, the Get Back roofttop concert) and Pink Floyd (Dark Side of the Moon, Atom Heart Mother). Along with songwriter Eric Woolfson, Parsons created a series of 10 (and counting) albums of progressive rock, employing a rotating cast of session musicians to do most of the performing (Parsons does play keyboard and sings on some tracks.). He creates the concept, writes some of the music and hires the artists, while Woolfson writes the lyrics, some of the music and sings on many tracks.
36 tracks are collected on this expansive compilation album from these prog rockers, which is a neat way to review their impressive career.
British pop-jazz-blues crooner Elkie Brooks (born Elaine Bookbinder) dominated U.K. radio in the late '70s with a series of hit singles that established her as "the biggest-selling female album artist in the history of the British pop charts." The Manchester native, who grew up in an extremely musical family, left school at the age of 15 to join a dance band in London. She eventually mad the jump to radio, as well as numerous appearances with legendary jazz bandleader Humphrey Lyttelton, before embarking on a career in pop music. The early '60s saw the budding young singer releasing singles for Decca and EMI, as well as opening for everyone from Carl Perkins to the Beatles, but commercial success remained elusive.
Superb double CD from the vastly underrated Korgis. You might remember their tender, atmospheric 1979 hit "Everybody's got to learn sometime", three versions of which are included. There are many similarly appealing songs on this double CD set, which actually includes, in total, the entire contents of each of their three albums, plus four worthwhile extras. This music really should have reached a greater audience than it has so far managed to, since it's of genuinely high quality and the main influences on it (Beach Boys, Beatles etc) are not exactly esoteric.
There's a certain relief that this 2009 Rhino reissue of 2002's double-disc set The Very Best of Fleetwood Mac doesn't even attempt to dabble in the early blues work of the Peter Green band, and treats the addition of Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks as ground zero. The two eras of the band don't sit well together, and it's best to isolate them, since those who want the hits don't need to hear the blues. Here, it's the prime of the platinum years, with almost all of the big songs in their original hit versions (the one real exception is a live version of "Big Love" from 1997, but most listeners aren't going to be too upset with the substitution).
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.
Ray Charles was the musician most responsible for developing soul music. Singers like Sam Cooke and Jackie Wilson also did a great deal to pioneer the form, but Charles did even more to devise a new form of black pop by merging '50s R&B with gospel-powered vocals, adding plenty of flavor from contemporary jazz, blues, and (in the '60s) country. Then there was his singing; his style was among the most emotional and easily identifiable of any 20th century performer, up there with the likes of Elvis and Billie Holiday. He was also a superb keyboard player, arranger, and bandleader. The brilliance of his 1950s and '60s work, however, can't obscure the fact that he made few classic tracks after the mid-'60s, though he recorded often and performed until the year before his death.
The material here was recorded for the Verve and MPS labels, and this two-disc, import retrospective of the work of legendary pianist Oscar Peterson is not only representative, but solid from top to bottom, showcasing many of his finest moments on wax in both live and studio recordings with his great trio of Herb Ellis and Ray Brown as well as in other settings. This is as fine an introduction as there is and, for the money, simply cannot be beaten.
Midge Ure's career, as fans well know, did not begin or end with Ultravox, and so If I Was: The Very Best of Midge Ure & Ultravox attempts to give an overview of one of '80s' Britain's most popular singers. As a career retrospective goes, however, it's pretty spotty. The Scottish vocalist first found fame with the pop band Slik, who scored a chart topper with "Forever and Ever" in 1976. Unfortunately, you won't find that here, nor its hit follow-up, scored just as a car accident took the band out of the charts. Once recovered, Ure moved on. His first port of call, in 1978, was ex-Pistol Glen Matlock's punk/post-punk supergroup the Rich Kids, who released a single and album, although this compilation draws nothing from this period, either. The following year, with the Kids in disarray, Ure helped form the even more illustrious Visage. Joining him there was Ultravox's Billy Currie and, before the year was out, Ure was fronting two hit-bound bands. Visage gets short shrift here, with Ultravox invariably, if unfairly, better represented. But even this wasn't enough to keep the singer busy. In 1981, as both bands' albums and singles swept up the charts, Ure linked up with Thin Lizzy's Phil Lynott for yet another hit, "Yellow Pearl".