Verve's Great Songs/Great Performances series is yet another attempt in a seemingly never-ending stream of them to repackage -- and hopefully resell -- their vast catalog of jazz, pop, Brazilian, Latin, and blues. They're super cheap in both cost and presentation, but the music is almost always stellar. The Sergio Mendes & Brasil '66 Play the Hits volume is no exception -- but it's not an essential pick either. Again, inherent in the title is the volume's shortcoming: "Play the Hits" means cover versions only. There are no Mendes originals on this eight-track set, and some of those tunes were among his biggest hits -- "Mas Que Nada" and "Tim Tom Dom" being just two examples of tracks that aren't included in this eight-track selection. Instead, there are the smash versions that Mendes & Brasil '66 put onto the pop charts as they moved out of America's easy listening ghetto: "The Look of Love," "Night and Day," "The Fool on the Hill," "With a Little Help from My Friends," "Scarborough Fair," etc. There have been many compilations of this group's work on A&M issued by Universal Music Group since the dawn of the compact disc, and all of them go deeper and wider than this one, but if all one is looking for are covers, for the price this one might do.
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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek