The compilation Big Guns: The Very Best of Rory Gallagher is one of the ways assembling a retrospective should be done. This set offers a portrait of a true guitar hero and songwriter, one whose flash never outweighed his substance, one whose work is so utterly and dazzlingly fresh it not only stands the test of time, but transcends it…
3CDs, 75 songs, and a set list that definitely lives up to the title – a collection that not only brings forth the best of Northern Soul from the glory days of the 60s, but also features lots of tracks from that time that have only been discovered in recent years too! Northern Soul isn't just a static concept on UK dancefloors – and instead has been driven by decades of record collectors and DJs with an ever-shifting ear for a groove – one that's lead to a nicely expansive version of the music that's really continued to thrill us with collections like this.
One of the unsung heroes of 1970s soul, Willie Hutch was never the big name he deserved to be. The smooth singer/composer had a few major and moderate hits, but commercially, he didn't make it to the level of Marvin Gaye, Ronald Isley, and Curtis Mayfield (all of whom he inspires comparisons to). Released in late 1998, The Very Best of Willie Hutch spans 1972-1982 and reminds us how engaging a singer he was in his heyday. Hutch could get funky when he wanted to, and he does so with splendid results on "Get Ready for the Get Down" (a number 24 R&B hit), "Brothers Gonna Work It Out," and the theme from the 1973 blaxploitation film Foxy Brown. But for the most part, Hutch made his mark as a romantic crooner. Full of gems that were recorded during Hutch's peak years, this CD is essential listening for lovers of 1970s soul.
The Very Best of Frank Sinatra is a simple double-disc collection of 40 Sinatra classics from his Reprise Recordings. For casual fans wanting something more than the single-disc The Very Good Years but don't want the four-disc The Reprise Collection, The Very Best of Frank Sinatra is ideal, since it contains all of the true essentials he recorded during the '60s and '70s, including "Summer Wind," "Strangers in the Night," "My Way," "It Was a Very Good Year," and "Theme From New York, New York."
Over the course of three albums and an EP, Ugly Kid Joe managed to parlay their pronounced Guns N' Roses fixation into something of a career. On their best songs – "Everything About You," "Neighbour," and "Milkman's Son" – they blended cartoon rebellion and a sense of humor best described as pre-adolescent into powerhouse singles full of tasteless good fun. Perfect for that time of life when all one wants to do is go around breaking things. Though routinely flagged as a hair band, their twin-guitar attack and fondness for funky, bottom-end heavy riffing also places Ugly Kid Joe among the forefathers of the late-'90s rap-metal explosion. As Ugly as They Wanna Be showcases the band in all their juvenile glory – from their surprise hit version of Harry Chapin's "Cat's in the Cradle" to their tight cover of Black Sabbath's "NIB" to "Busybee" – pretty much the best Guns N' Roses song Guns N' Roses never recorded – all the hits are here, present and accounted for.