Various Artists

Greatest Hits of the 70's [Disky Box]

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Dutch reissue label Disky's eight-CD box set Greatest Hits of the 70's is a lengthy, entertaining collection that doesn't live up to its title -- not without qualifications, that is. "Greatests hits" is a quantifiable phrase, but it depends on location. This compilation will come much closer to justifying its name for U.K. residents than for Americans. Of the 144 tracks, 126 made the British charts, 118 of those reaching the Top 40 and 78 the Top Ten, with six hitting number one. The U.S. statistics are far less impressive: 56 entries on the Billboard Hot 100, of which 40 reached the Top 40 and 24 the Top Ten, with 11 number ones. Despite the larger number of chart-toppers, the set is full of songs that will be unfamiliar to Americans. The choices also have been made primarily from one record company. Tracks have been licensed from 29 label imprints, but that's deceptive; in fact, 75 percent of the selections originate from four labels -- Capitol, Chrysalis, EMI, and Virgin -- that are controlled by EMI. Thus, a more accurate title for this collection would be "Greatest British Hits of the '70s from the EMI Catalog." That said, however, there is a lot of good music to be found in the eight and a half hours of listening time, especially if you like up-tempo guitar rock and British punk. Most of the discs are dominated by these styles (the exceptions are CDs four and eight, which have more light pop and disco), with multiple selections by the likes of Generation X, Lene Lovich, Madness, the Motors, Public Image Ltd., the Tom Robinson Band, the Rumour (no Graham Parker, though), the Sex Pistols, the Specials, the Stranglers, and Wreckless Eric. So, if you don't take the title too seriously, there is a great deal of listening pleasure to be had.

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