For those who don't want or can't afford to plonk out for the Toots & the Maytals' Time Tough: The Anthology, The Very Best Of provides the perfect solution, distilling down that two-CD, 41-track set to a single 19-song disc. There are a few subtle differences, however; for starters this set boasts two different versions of the band's reggae smash "54-46, That's My Number," as well as the original ska version of their Jamaican Song Festival winner "Bam Bam," unlike the anthology, which included only a later remodel. However, the "Never You Change" found on this set is not the trio's original ska hit, but a reggae-fied remake. The rest of the album pulls directly from the anthology, with the disc divided almost evenly between the trio and a solo Hibbert's pre- and post-Island career. Thus, for those who prefer the Maytals' ska and/or reggae hits, this is not the collection for you, as there are much better compilations of those periods. But for fans looking for a larger overview of both the band and Hibbert himself, this is an excellent place to start.
In the history of popular music, there are a relative handful of performers who have redefined the content of the music at critical points in history – people whose music left the landscape, and definition of popular music, altered completely. The Kingston Trio were one such group, transforming folk music into a hot commodity and creating a demand – where none had existed before – for young men (sometimes with women) strumming acoustic guitars and banjos and singing folk songs and folk-like novelty songs in harmony. On a purely commercial level, from 1957 until 1963, the Kingston Trio were the most vital and popular folk group in the world.
While the two previous Best of UB40 collections neatly divided the band's output between their more political early period and their later, covers-oriented pop success, they were also only ten tracks apiece. The Very Best of UB40 1980-2000 is the first comprehensive single-disc overview of the band's career, and it's a lot more generous at 20 tracks. It isn't arranged chronologically, which actually helps the programming by splitting up the covers over the course of the running order. There's a bit more toughness to the earlier songs, both in the lyrics and the punchier performances. Yet in the end, the sonic differences are subtle enough that casual fans should still be able to enjoy them (unless they only want to hear the band performing reggae-pop versions of oldies they already know).
This two-CD set collects most of Celine Dion's essential recordings from her pre-superstar years, when she was a very young French singer, popular in Canada and France. This set starts with the heavily synthesized Euro pop of the 1988 Eurovision contest winner "Ne Partez Pas Sans Moi," which was the song that introduced the singer to international audiences, and is something of a milestone in her career. Many of the songs on this set are fair, and differ from the processed teen pop of the late 1990s because of the ever-present sincerity in Dion's voice. Highlights include the elegant ballads "Tellement J'ai D'amour Pour Toi," "Benjamin," and "La Voix Du Bon Dieu"…
Whether it was singing with Big Brother And The Holding Company or with her Full Tilt Boogie Band, Janis Joplin had one of the most identifiable, most emotional and most soulful voices ever recorded. Coming to San Francisco from Texas in 1966, Janis soon had the music world’s total attention, simply blowing the audience away at Monterey in 1967 while fronting Big Brother and gaining a record deal with Columbia Records in the process. After that, it was hit after hit with songs like her signature Piece Of My Heart, Cry Baby, and her Number One take of Kris Kristofferson’s present day standard Me And Bobby McGee, all included here. Through it all, Janis Joplin established herself as one of the very best and one of the most important singers and song interpreters ever to hit the music scene.