Various Artists

Hard Rockin' 70s [Priority]

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Compilations don't always live up to their titles. If a compilation bills itself as gangsta rap but emphasizes pop-rappers like MC Hammer, JJ Fad, and L'Trimm, it isn't really a gangsta rap compilation. And if a compilation has a title like Bebop Essentials but is full of Kenny G and Dave Koz recordings, it isn't a true bop compilation. But Hard Rockin' 70s is an accurate title for this CD, which really does contain a lot of hard-rocking material from the 1970s. That isn't to say that everything on this compilation, which Priority assembled in 1990, is hard rock or heavy metal; Ted Nugent's "Cat Scratch Fever" is among the few tracks that could honestly be described as metal. But, for the most part, Hard Rockin' 70s does rock hard -- and all 12 of the selections are definitive, well-known examples of FM-oriented 1970s rock. Anyone who listened to FM rock stations back in the 1970s or enjoys today's classic rock formats will be well aware of baby-boomer favorites like Rick Derringer's "Rock & Roll, Hoochie Koo," Grand Funk's "Shinin' On," and the James Gang's "Funk No. 49." Southern rock is nicely represented by Lynyrd Skynyrd's anthemic "Free Bird," while Stories' hit version of Hot Chocolate's "Brother Louie" (a poignant tale of interracial romance) brilliantly fuses rock and blue-eyed soul. Another track that was funky enough to cross over to African-American R&B audiences is Queen's "We Will Rock You"; like 1980's "Another One Bites the Dust," "We Will Rock You" has been sampled extensively in hip-hop. By CD standards, Hard Rockin' 70s isn't very generous; the disc clocks in at around 42 minutes. But Priority's choices are first-rate, which is why Hard Rockin' 70s is recommended to anyone who has even a casual interest in FM-oriented 1970s rock.

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