The Gold Collection

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A 16-track collection of Mud's greatest hits that omits one of the greatest of them all -- how peculiar. "Lonely This Christmas" might have limited appeal once the season has passed, but still the second of Mud's three U.K. chart-toppers did not deserve this -- all the more so since, if you've ever thrilled to Les Gray's Elvis impersonations, this is one of the most thrilling of them all. That singular omission notwithstanding, The Gold Collection serves up few surprises. Between early 1973 and late 1975, when the band quit the EMI subsidiary RAK for Private Stock, Mud established itself among Britain's most reliable hitmakers, and most versatile jukeboxes. Thus, while one half of this collection dwells on the string of Chinn/Chapman classics for which Mud is best remembered, the other half delves into the corpus of covers that packed out the group's albums, B-sides, and, once or twice, the charts. A near a cappella revision of "Oh, Boy!" gave them their third number one, while their final label hit was a note-perfect assault on Elvis Presley's "One Night." Elsewhere, "Hippy Hippy Shake," "Living Doll," and a surprisingly sensitive rendering of "End of the World" peel off the Mud Rock albums to remind listeners (and, presumably, the bandmembers themselves) that, long before the group ever gnawed the halls of pop power, Mud was a highly regarded nightclub act, performing perfect covers every night of the week. And, if the wheels ever fell off the hitmaking bandwagon, no doubt Mud could be one again.

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