Mainstream pop began catching up with the innovations of the late '60s sometime in the early '70s, incorporating watered-down versions of psychedelia, soul, prog rock, country-rock, and folk-rock. The result was well-produced and crafted schlock that gleefully corrupted countercultural values. Along with the schlock was pure trash ranging from bubblegum epics like "The Night Chicago Died" and "I Think I Love You" to soft rock ("Precious and Few"), Jesus rock ("One Toke Over the Line," "Spirit in the Sky"), hard rock ("Mississippi Queen"), and songs like "Gimme Dat Thing" that are simply uncategorizable. What they all had in common was their utter lack of seriousness and big, catchy hooks, which made them perfect singles for AM radio. Rhino's multi-volume various-artists set Have a Nice Day: Super Hits of the '70s (available as individual discs) is an exhaustive overview of such hit singles, containing 12 tracks on each disc. To be sure, there are some outright dogs on some of these discs, but it's remarkable how entertaining the entire series is. Initially, the label intended to only compile ten or 15 collections, taking the set into the mid-'70s, but Have a Nice Day proved so successful that it ran a full 25 volumes and extended right until 1979. Consequently, there's a lot of variety here, and every volume may not be entertaining to all listeners, especially since Rhino predictably leans a little too heavily on novelties. Still, it's a terrific series to pick and choose from, and each disc has several "classics" as well as several fun obscurities; it's impossible to imagine a better, more thorough chronicle of this era than Have a Nice Day.
Super Hits of the '70s: Have a Nice Day, Vol. 1 Review
by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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