Various Artists

Sounds of the Seventies: '70s Dance Party, 1976-1977

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Time-Life Music's compilations tend to be assembled from the biggest hits licensed from the major labels, and this one, covering a two-year period in the "Dance Party" portion of the Sounds of the Seventies series, is typical. All but one of the 18 tracks was a Top Ten pop hit on at least one of the national charts (the exception being Joe Tex's "Ain't Gonna Bump No More [With No Big Fat Woman]," which hit the Top 20), and most of them were leased from one or another of the majors (even if the original records were independent releases later acquired by a major). Such compilations often have trouble leasing tracks by the most important artists, but the dance field attracts a lot of short-term stars, so that hasn't been as much of a problem here, though the omission of the Bee Gees is notable. The tracks are not in chronological order and no artist is given more than one track, which means that several dance hits of the period are necessarily absent. All of this is to say that the album is not a comprehensive collection of the popular dance music of 1976-1977. But it does contain some of the best recordings from what is arguably the best period in disco music, before the Saturday Night Fever phenomenon codified it into a formula that led to its popular demise. Songs like "Right Back Where We Started From," "Turn the Beat Around," and "I Feel Love" were dance classics that brought in a variety of styles, and even gimmicky efforts like "Star Wars Theme/Cantina Band" and "A Fifth of Beethoven" were imaginative attempts to stretch the genre. The 1976-1977 volume in the series representatively samples an exciting time in '70s dance music, when it was at its creative peak.

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