Greatest Hits

The Ritchie Family

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Greatest Hits Review

by Donald A. Guarisco

This compilation focuses on the career of the Ritchie Family, a disco trio produced by the man behind the Village People and Jacques Morali. Although their pop chart success was limited, the combination of girl group vocals and lush Euro-disco production that characterized their finest work made them a regular on disco playlists during the mid- to late-'70s. Greatest Hits covers the group's output during that successful period: Its track selection isn't as generous as The Best of the Ritchie Family -- Best Disco in Town, but it makes up for this flaw by focusing on the album-length versions of the tracks it does include. The highlight of the album in this respect is the epic "Arabian Nights Medley," a 15-minute medley that weaves the standards "Instanbul (Not Constantinople)," "Lawrence of Arabia," and "In a Persian Market" into a coherent, danceable mini-symphony where Euro-disco orchestrations coast along the top of huge drumbeats. Another impressive medley arrives when the Ritchie Family's grandiose cover of "Big Spender" gives way to "Good in Love," a danceable original tune with an infectious, handclap-driven beat. The remainder of the album covers other high points from the group's mid-'70s heyday, including dancefloor favorites like "Brazil" and "The Best Disco in Town" (however, it curiously omits the successful "Life Is Music"). All in all, Greatest Hits is a solid and danceable collection. Casual listeners may want to go with The Best of the Ritchie Family -- Best Disco in Town, but Greatest Hits is definitely the Ritchie Family collection of choice for hardcore disco fanatics.

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