Blue Magic

The Magic of the Blue: Greatest Hits

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In a perfect world, all of Blue Magic's '70s LPs would have been reissued on CD in the late '80s or '90s. But that didn't happen; when the 21st century arrived, most of the Philadelphia vocal group's '70s albums were out of print. However, various best-of packages were available on CD. The most comprehensive is The Best of Blue Magic: Soulful Spell, a superb 20-song collection that Rhino assembled in 1996. Less generous is Magic of the Blue: Greatest Hits; originally released on vinyl by Omni in 1986 and subsequently reissued on CD, Magic of the Blue: Greatest Hits only contains 12 songs. Most of the essential gems that are on Greatest Hits are also on Soulful Spell, and that includes "Sideshow," "Three Ring Circus," and "Stop to Start," as well as "Look Me Up," "Spell," and "What's Come Over Me" (the original 1974 version, not the 1975 duet with Margie Joseph). Both collections are gem-laden and both paint a highly attractive picture of Blue Magic's '70s heyday; when the quintet was at their creative peak from 1974-1976 (the period that Greatest Hits focuses on), Blue Magic was Philly soul heaven. Anyone who treasures Philly vocal heavyweights like the Stylistics, the Moments, and the Delfonics owes it to himself/herself to hear Blue Magic as well. So if you're exploring Blue Magic's legacy for the first time, what is the best starting point? Although everything on Magic of the Blue: Greatest Hits is first-rate, Soulful Spell would be a better choice. Again, it is more generous -- and unlike Greatest Hits, Soulful Spell boasts informative liner notes by writer A. Scott Galloway. Greatest Hits certainly isn't a bad CD to have in your collection, but it isn't ideal -- and all things considered, Soulful Spell would be the best choice if you're making your first Blue Magic purchase.

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