With just five U.K. Top 30 singles to his name, Barry Blue would seem a strange candidate for a CD-sized greatest-hits collection -- although hits themselves have never been the main prerogative of the Singles Collection series. Rather, this set rounds up all of the 45s that Blue, already established among the most successful producers and songwriters of the glam era, released under his own name during the mid- to late '70s. That this tally naturally includes the two songs for which record buyers will forever remember him is simply a bonus.
"Dancing (On a Saturday Night)" is one of those records whose virtues are impossible to over-value, a pulsating dance number that so revitalized what was fast becoming a somewhat stale-by-numbers glam scene that, for at least another year, the whole shebang was all but reborn. Blue himself certainly understood the record's importance, restating all of its virtues for the follow-up, "Do You Wanna Dance"; indeed, for a few months in 1974, Blue was inescapable, a broadly grinning, metallic-blue-clad vision who seemingly appeared on every TV show you switched on. If he'd kept up the same pace over subsequent releases, he really could have been the next Gary Glitter. Unfortunately, he didn't. Though Blue continued charting throughout 1974 before bowing out with "Hot Shot," none of his subsequent releases packed anywhere near the same compulsive arsenal as their predecessors, and by the end of the year he had retreated from the front lines. He continued recording, however; 1986 brought a punchy remix of "Dancing on a Saturday Night," while he even returned to the chart in 1989 in the guise of "Afro Dizzi Act" hitmaker Cry Sisco. Those gems, sadly, fall far beyond the reach of The Singles Collection, which contents itself instead with the string of extraordinarily well-made, and often defiantly tasteful, 45s that continued spilling out after "Hot Shot" turned cold. "You Make Me Happy," "If I Show You I Can Dance," and, best of all, "Tough Kids" all pack a serious period charm, while the festive closer "A Merry Xmas From Me to You" should certainly have seen some action. As usual with this series, both A- and B-sides are present, while the booklet offers up a feast of European picture sleeves, all of them -- naturally -- as colorful as Blue's own name. So, now you know what you'll be doing on Saturday night -- dancing, of course.