Various Artists

Rock 'n' Roll Fantasy: Rock Classics of the '70s & '80s

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Assembled by the Columbia House record club, Rock 'n' Roll Fantasy: Rock Classics of the '70s & '80s is a thematic compilation of 15 recordings, each of which has some version of the phrase "rock & roll" in the title. Most compilations consist of tracks by minor or at best mid-level recording artists for the simple reason that the big acts sooner or later negotiate contracts containing "coupling" restrictions that give them some say about how their recordings are used, and there is a tendency to view compilations as diluting the value of an artist's catalog. Thus, outside of holiday collections (which constitute an exception), you practically never see a compilation that boasts performers like Led Zeppelin, the Who, Bruce Springsteen, or Paul McCartney's Wings. But here, you do. In fact, the set leads off with Led Zeppelin's "Rock and Roll" and goes on to feature a who's who of important rockers, also including such rarely anthologized names as John Mellencamp, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, the Moody Blues, and Jethro Tull. The concept may be trite, and these may not be the best rock & roll tracks by these performers, but the lineup is unbeatable. And the reason simply is that this is a charity album, benefiting the T.J. Martell Foundation for Leukemia, Cancer and AIDS Research, which is heavily supported by the music industry. The foundation's clout within the industry is such that a collection like this, crossing record labels and featuring artists who virtually never agree to the use of their tracks on compilations, apparently is easily accomplished. The consumer doesn't need to worry about the business machinations that make such a thing possible; he or she can simply enjoy the results.

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