Various Artists

Top of the Pops, Vol. 62

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"We like the music, we like the disco sound..." -- yes, it's "Black Is Black," that most stirring of '60s beat-era hits, updated and upstaged for a pounding disco heavyweight. And just when you thought you'd finally got it out of your head, here it is again, kicking off Top of the Pops, Vol. 62 -- quite possibly the most chest-beatingly, air-punchingly, heart-poundingly anthemic album in the entire series. And the fact that hardly any of the songs sound much like the originals doesn't matter a hoot. You'll be singing along so loudly that you won't even notice. Just look at what you get! "Heroes," with David Bowie's soul-baring vocals raised to notches higher than even his best histrionics could reach. Status Quo's "Rockin' All Over the World" -- an anthem so unilaterally unprofound that even football stadia haven't sunk low enough to adopt it -- and why should they, because here comes "We Are the Champions," the latest and by far the most ludicrous of all the Top of the Pops team's assaults on the Queen hits catalog. Why, we're breathless already, and we're not even halfway through. "You're in My Heart" and Ram Jam's "Black Betty" are here, along with the theme from Star Wars, which is even better than Meco's super-synth bleeped original. Remember that version of "Autobahn" back on Top of the Pops, Vol. 45? This is what it would sound like played backwards. Probably. "Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft" -- what were the Carpenters thinking when they covered that? Who knows -- but you'll hear this version and be glad they did. "Yes Sir, I Can Boogie"! Ah, the hip kids hated that one when it first came on the radio. But it was catchier than a summer cold, and the accents were adorable. And so on and so forth, until even "I Remember Elvis Presley," Danny Mirror's rush-released tribute to the recently fallen King of Whatever, sounds heartfelt and necessary. And the thought occurs -- a lot of Top of the Pops collectors complain that the albums' quality began to decline fast and furious once they got past the mid-'70s. Top of the Pops, Vol. 62 is here to tell you that they lie. This is one of the best of them all.

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