Various Artists

Wow That Was the 70's

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Dutch reissue label Disky's Wow That Was the 70's is a 128-track, eight-CD box set running more than seven-and-a-half hours, so it provides a lengthy examination of pop music in the decade it covers, as long as you were a resident of Europe at the time. Drawing on recordings originally released on 49 different labels (the bulk of them now the possession of EMI), the set consists primarily of British recording artists who scored in their own country, with a smattering of Americans included. Of the 128, 116 were U.K. chart entries; 83 of those reached the Top Ten, and 19 went all the way to number one. Compare those statistics to the U.S. equivalent: Only 68 of the tracks, or just over half, made the Billboard Hot 100, with 41 of them hitting the Top Ten and 16 topping the charts. Thus, to the average nostalgic American, the box is full of unknown material, interrupted now and then by a stateside hit. Typically for such a compilation, minor artists dominate, the most frequent name among the credits being Leo Sayer, who has five tracks; there are four each by Blondie (only one of which was a U.S. hit) and 10cc; three each by Hot Chocolate, KC & the Sunshine Band, and British bubblegum band Mud; and two each by the Average White Band, B.T. Express, the Electric Light Orchestra, the Hollies, Engelbert Humperdinck, Tavares, John Travolta, and Ike & Tina Turner, among others, which should give a good idea of the kind of music included. Sometimes, Americans will recognize the songs, but not the renditions, with such U.S. hits as "Everything I Own," "Sideshow," and "Midnight Rider" turning up in reggae arrangements by unfamiliar names. But if you grew up in Europe in the '70s, this is your box set.

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