Firecrackers: The Best of Mass Production is a comprehensive collection of the late-'70s soul band, featuring the majority of their R&B hits, including "Welcome to Our World (Of Merry Music)," "Turn Up the Music," and the Top Ten R&B hit "Firecracker." The compilation spans from their first album in 1977 to their farewell 1983 record, hitting every peak along the way. Though the material isn't always consistent – some of the lesser-known songs have dated rather badly – Firecrackers remains the definitive retrospective of Mass Production.
Few front men can claim to have had such a lengthy and far-reaching career as Graham Bonnet; first finding fame as part of The Marbles, enjoying a hit with the Bee Gees’ ‘Only One Woman’ in 1968; a solo career across the 70s; further success with the Bee Gees’, and the disco flavoured ‘Warm Ride’. But Graham found what was possibly his greatest success replacing Ronnie James Dio in Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow for 1979’s “Down To Earth”, and the worldwide hit singles ‘All Night Long’ and ‘Since You Been Gone’. Solo success beckoned with ‘Night Games’ and the “Line-Up” album in 1981, before briefly joining The Michael Schenker Group for 1982’s “Assault Attack”. The performance at Tokyo's Nakano Sun Plaza venue was deemed so good that no other concerts were considered for inclusion on the “Live Sentence” release, which includes unique versions of ‘Night Games’, MSG’s ‘Desert Song’, and Rainbow’s ‘Since You Been Gone’, ‘All Night Long’ and ‘Lost In Hollywood’.
The J. Geils Band were one of the most popular touring rock & roll bands in America during the '70s. Where their contemporaries were influenced by the heavy boogie of British blues-rock and the ear-splitting sonic adventures of psychedelia, the J. Geils Band were a bar band pure and simple, churning out greasy covers of obscure R&B, doo wop, and soul tunes, cutting them with a healthy dose of Stonesy swagger. While their muscular sound and the hyper jive of frontman Peter Wolf packed arenas across America, it only rarely earned them hit singles. Seth Justman, the group's main songwriter, could turn out catchy R&B-based rockers like "Give It to Me" and "Must of Got Lost," but these hits never led to stardom, primarily because the group had trouble capturing the energy of its live sound in the studio. In the early '80s, the group tempered its driving rock with some pop, and the makeover paid off with the massive hit single "Centerfold," which stayed at number one for six weeks. By the time the band prepared to record a follow-up, tensions between Justman and Wolf had grown considerably, resulting in Wolf's departure, which quickly led to the band's demise. After working for years to reach the top of the charts, the J. Geils Band couldn't stay there once they finally achieved their goal.
As Time Goes By: The Very Best of Little Feat is an extraordinary collection that contains almost every essential Little Feat song from their '70s heyday with Lowell George, plus the two hits ("Let It Roll," "Hate to Lose Your Lovin'") from their late-'80s comeback. Most of the band's albums are worth hearing, but this is a great introduction for the curious and – since it features "Dixie Chicken," "Willin'," "Two Trains," "Fat Man in the Bathtub," "Sailin' Shoes," "Oh Atlanta" and "All That You Dream" in one place – it's a great summation of the group's achievements, and George's songwriting talent in particular. Unfortunately, As Time Goes By has only been released by the British division of Warner Bros, but it's worth tracking down.
Can it get any better? If aliens came down needing to know what funk was all about, in all its talented, embrace-anything-and-everything, screw with your head and get your butt down glory, then this is a prime candidate for what to give them. The man, his voice, his bass, the backing of a prime core band including his guitarist brother Catfish, Fred Wesley, and Maceo Parker leading the brass – beautiful, hilarious, and just plain great. This one-disc collection could easily be a two-disc or more if one wanted to include every last highlight from Collins' up-down-all-around career – his work with James Brown alone is beyond the bomb – but when it comes to solo work, this is as perfect a place to start as any. Drawing mostly on the albums done with the active help of George Clinton in the late '70s, Back in the Day is a model for what a good compilation should be. Sound is excellent throughout, while full details on who plays what and where, along with where everything came from in the first place, all appear in exhaustive detail. The liner notes, meanwhile, come from longtime funk road manager (Brown, Prince, plenty of others) Alan Leeds, explaining every step of Collins' wonderful story.
A lost gem from Keith's "with horns" period – a quintet session from the mid 70s, recorded with a group that features Dewey Redman on tenor, plus Charlie Haden on bass, Paul Motian on drums and percussion, and Guilherme Franco on additional percussion. The feel is a bit straighter than Jarrett's excellent Death & The Flower set – as the tunes have a highly rhythmic component, and make good use of the extra percussion to create a flowing, organic groove. There's still a nice loose feel overall, though – almost a take on the loft jazz sound, especially at the moments when Jarrett goes a bit outside on piano. Titles include "Shades Of Jazz", "Southern Smiles", "Rose Petals", and "Diatribe".
British pop-jazz-blues crooner Elkie Brooks (born Elaine Bookbinder) dominated U.K. radio in the late '70s with a series of hit singles that established her as "the biggest-selling female album artist in the history of the British pop charts." The Manchester native, who grew up in an extremely musical family, left school at the age of 15 to join a dance band in London. She eventually mad the jump to radio, as well as numerous appearances with legendary jazz bandleader Humphrey Lyttelton, before embarking on a career in pop music. The early '60s saw the budding young singer releasing singles for Decca and EMI, as well as opening for everyone from Carl Perkins to the Beatles, but commercial success remained elusive.