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.
Exactly ten years after Dire Straits' first compilation, Money for Nothing, appeared in the stores, their second, Sultans of Swing: The Very Best of Dire Straits, was released. A decade is a significant span of time, and the average band would have produced enough material for an entirely different collection, one that shared no similarities with its predecessor. Dire Straits is not the average band, however, and during those ten years, they released exactly two albums – 1991's On Every Street, their first studio album since Brothers in Arms in 1985, and 1993's On the Night, a live album culled from tapes of the record's supporting tour. Not quite enough new material for a new greatest-hits album, but it had been years since Dire Straits had released an album of any sort (a compilation of BBC sessions snuck into the stores in 1995) – hence the birth of Sultans of Swing.
"Sultans of Swing" was the first single release of the British rock band Dire Straits; first released in 1978, its 1979 re-release caused it to become a U.K. and U.S. hit. The song was first recorded as a demo at Pathway Studios, North London in July 1977, and quickly acquired a following after it was put on rotation at Radio London. It did not take long for its popularity to reach record executives, and Dire Straits were offered a contract with Phonogram Records. The song was then re-recorded in early 1978 at Basing Street Studios for the band's debut album Dire Straits. The record company wanted a less-polished rock sound for the radio, so an alternative version was recorded at Pathway Studios in April 1978 and released as the single in some countries including the United Kingdom and Germany.
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.
Tempting as it may be, it's not quite accurate to call Jeff Lynne the rock & roll George Lucas, a technophile who can't resist tweaking his famous older work to bring it up to modern standards. Unlike Lucas, Lynne doesn't paint over his original work, turning it into something vaguely reminiscent of the past: with Mr. Blue Sky: The Very Best of Electric Light Orchestra, he simply re-creates his old arrangements with new technology…