Various Artists

Singers & Songwriters: Mid '70s

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Time-Life Music's Singers and Songwriters series, which reaches its tenth volume with this release, takes off from the singer/songwriter movement of the 1970s, but, as its modified name suggests, it is hardly strict about the definition. In fact, it is really a survey of popular soft rock music. The first five volumes covered two-year periods in the '70s, with additional volumes examining the '60s and the early '80s, plus three clean-up volumes gathering more music from the '70s, of which this is the third. It brings together light pop hits from 1972 to 1976 that were not featured on earlier volumes. All but two of the tracks reached the Top 20 of Billboard's Hot 100 pop singles chart, the rankings for which are included in the annotations. The exceptions are the Grateful Dead's "Sugar Magnolia," which peaked at number 91, and Joni Mitchell's "Coyote," which did not chart. The quality of those two selections suggests that the album, and the series as whole, would have been improved by looking beyond the top of the charts, but that's not what Time-Life compilations are about. They are about hits, and this album delivers with the chart-toppers "My Eyes Adored You," "Seasons in the Sun," "Laughter in the Rain," "(Hey, Won't You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song," and "Angie Baby," as well as major hits like "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road," Linda Ronstadt's "When Will I Be Loved," and "Love Is Alive" -- not, perhaps, the most memorable music ever made, but certainly good nostalgia fare for Time-Life's intended audience of aging Baby Boomers who prefer to do their record shopping via mail order. For that consumer group, the album and the series offer reasonable value for the money, even if one can easily imagine a better selection of singer/songwriter music from the mid-'70s.

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