Various Artists

70 Number One Hits of the 70s, Vol. 5

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This is the fifth 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. This volume, produced in association with Warner Special Products and therefore featuring a number of hits originally released on the Warner Bros., Atlantic, and Elektra labels, is a typical miscellany. The Average White Band's funk workout "Pick Up the Pieces" is followed by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons' nostalgic "December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night)," and that by America's folk-rock Neil Young sound-alike "A Horse With No Name," and so on. The '70s was a decade in which many different styles of music produced pop hits, and the mix-and-match lineup of this sort of collection can lead to curious juxtapositions. What does Chic's stylish disco hit "Le Freak," with its shouts of "Le Freak, รง'est chic!" have to do with Bread's languid easy listening come-on "Make It With You" that makes it a good idea to put the two of them together? Absolutely nothing, except that the former was a chart-topper in 1978 and the latter had been one eight years before. Even oldies radio makes more of an attempt to line up songs with some sort of musical or conceptual connection, but this album has the jarring feel of what you might get by punching the buttons on your car radio.

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