Various Artists

Singers & Songwriters: The '70s

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Time-Life Music's Singers and Songwriters series has long since become a collection of interchangeable soft rock compilations. The series title implies a connection to the singer/songwriter movement of the early '70s, which the contents of early titles reflected, more or less, but it is also broad enough to include almost anything. Generally speaking, the songs are ones either written by the performers themselves or written by other performers, but that covers much of the pop music created after the mid-'60s, when the Beatles and Bob Dylan ushered in a change from the Tin Pan Alley pop days of professional songwriters and non-composing singers. All 24 tracks on this edition, which ranges throughout the 1970s (other titles cover two-year periods in the same decade, the first or second half of the decade, or dip back into the '60s or up to the early '80s), were pop hits somewhere on the Billboard Hot 100, from Linda Ronstadt's Neil Young-penned "Love Is a Rose," which got into the low 60s, to B.J. Thomas' "(Hey, Won't You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song," which hit number one. If there is any theme to the material, it may be the vaguely philosophical cast to so many of the songs, which emphasizes the idiosyncratic nature of a lot of singer/songwriter music. Don McLean's "Dreidel" and Cat Stevens' "Sitting," for example, have discursive lyrics that it's hard to imagine anyone but their authors wanting to sing. If "Love Is a Rose" and Tom T. Hall's "I Love" are more accessible, they are still somewhat conceptual as love songs go. And, ear candy though they may, it's difficult to say exactly what "Tiny Dancer" and "Never Been to Spain" are even about. That shouldn't matter to '70s music fans who love them, however, and they are what keeps this series going.

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