Various Artists

70 Number One Hits of the 70s, Vol. 3

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This is the third of six volumes of a set which, taken together, actually does add up to 70 tracks that were number one singles during the 1970s. The simple fact that the series lives up to its title, in total and in each individual volume, is more remarkable than you might think; there are albums out there with the phrase "number one hits" in their names that contain only a few actual chart-toppers. Justifying the title, though, is the best the series does. Otherwise, it is a randomly sequenced collection of often stylistically disparate recordings, with no annotations. Each volume in the series is assembled with the participation of a major label that manufactures the disc, and in this case that label is EMI, so almost all of the tracks come from that company's vaults, having originally been issued on the subsidiaries and acquisitions Capitol, United Artists, EMI America, Hi, and Chrysalis. (The sole exception is Jim Croce's "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown," which came out on ABC records.) Beyond that, the only aspect of these songs that seems to tie them together is that, popular as they all demonstrably were, many were also polarizing. "Boogie Fever" and "Boogie Oogie Oogie," sequenced together, represent the mindless disco sound that drove millions to the dancefloor and more millions to distraction. "I Am Woman" and "(You're) Having My Baby," also sequenced together, embrace conflicting social views of belligerent liberation and celebratory dependence that left their opponents seething. And there are people who still turn green when they hear the ersatz punk of "My Sharona," the compromised country of "Rhinestone Cowboy," or the endless allegory of "American Pie" on oldies radio. Thus, there is something here to offend everyone, which is an unusual quality in a collection consisting entirely of number one hits.

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