Time and Again: The Private Stock Collection

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When Mud made a break with RAK Records and the songwriting/production team of Chinn & Chapman in 1975 and moved to Private Stock, they left behind the team that had helped them become one of the biggest hitmakers of the glitter scene. Fortunately for the bandmembers, they learned enough from their former mentors to keep their music in the charts even if the quality did inevitably dip. Time and Again: The Private Stock Collection is an exhaustive double-disc retrospective of their five-year run at the label. Running in rough chronological order, the collection contains singles and album tracks. Not much rocks as hard as their glitter hits "Tiger Feet" or "Dynamite," the band focused instead on a mix of soft rock ballads ("Show Me You're a Woman," "All I've Got to Give"), oldies ("Cut Across Shorty," "Walk Right Back," "Lean On Me"), and disco ("Use Your Imagination," "Shake It Down"). Unfortunately, they weren't much good at ballads and their bland approach to oldies was always a weak spot. They were surprisingly good at disco, however; "Shake It Down" is one of the better rock-disco hybrids you are going to hear. They were at their best when they tried to copy the Chinnichap style -- rockers like "L'L'Lucy," the chooglin' "RU Man Enough?," and "Don't Knock It" are the highlights of the set. These songs were all done right after the breakup and, unsurprisingly, the first disc is much stronger than the second, since it has most of their hits and best songs. They bandmembers sound inspired and quite sure of themselves and their sound. As the '80s neared and the hits began to dry up, Mud began to sound more and more homogenized and safe, and although they pulled a couple really nice songs out of their hat ("1-2 Love" is a great slice of power pop; "So Fine" is a fine disco-lite rocker), most of the second disc is easy to dismiss. The band would have been better served by a single disc that cherry-picked the best tunes. Listeners would have been, too. Then again, if you are the sort who actually has interest in the 1975-1980 career of Mud, you'll probably want all you can get. In that case, this collection is a smashing success.

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