Unlike its predecessor Ultimate Rock Classics, Vol. 1, this three-CD set assembled by the Columbia House record club and issued on its Realm records imprint is not a well-organized sampler of Sony recordings from the 1960s, '70s, and '80s. In fact, what it really is is a repackaging of three separately released collections, Flashback! Rock Classics of the '70s, Rock 'n' Roll Fantasy: Rock Classics of the '70s & '80s, and Pure 70s. The first two albums, also from Realm, are benefit discs put together to raise money for the T.J. Martell Foundation, a record industry charity. The charity angle has allowed the compilers to gain permission to use recordings that normally don't get used on compilations, tracks by the likes of such major artists as Bruce Springsteen, Pink Floyd, Eric Clapton, Led Zeppelin, John Mellencamp, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Wings, and the Who. As such, they are a cut above most miscellaneous collections. They are also full of real rock music, as their titles indicate. Pure 70s is something else again, a compilation of frequently anthologized '70s hits that includes much rock music, but also a lot of pop from people like 10cc ("The Things We Do for Love") and Elton John ("Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word"). Since this volume is not coordinated with its predecessor or with its own elements, there is repetition: Boston's "More Than a Feeling" is on both editions of Ultimate Rock Classics, and the Allman Brothers Band's "Ramblin' Man" turns up twice within the three discs here. There's plenty of good rock music on this set, but it is not a proper follow-up to Vol. 1.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann