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Singing a few of our favourite songs as the wheels went round
on 10 October 2013
Any compilation of tunes that declares itself to be 'The Definitive Collection' of whatever particular music it claims to be representing must, in my experience, have one of two things; either it really does contain every tune you would ever think of when considering whatever genre or era is up for discussion... or it has decided to gloss over a lack of suitable credentials, dispense with any sort of modesty whatsoever and just attempt to bluff its way into its purchaser's esteem. I have to say, this 3-disc collection does fall very much into the latter category as far as I am concerned. Then again though, I not only bought it but I bought it knowing it is nothing like a 'definitive' compilation. That is how great my addiction seems to be for buying these sorts of products.
Actually no - even though I do find it difficult to resist buying music box-sets in general, this particular one really only appealed to me because of one song. What can I say? I saw the opportunity of getting my hands on 'Day Trip To Bangor' in CD format and I simply couldn't help myself. So, while I suppose I might still be viewed as a weak-willed spendthrift, at least I now have a user-friendly means of spending quality time in the company of Cathy Lesurf.
The majority of the songs on these three discs could be likened to the same old familiar celebrities turning up at yet another red carpet event. The likes of 'Kung Fu Fighting' and 'Tiger Feet' are certainly no strangers to 70s music compilations. Yet, among these sixty tunes were a few that I had never previously encountered in all of my 43 years on this planet. Like The Miracles 'Love Machine (Part 1)' for instance. That song apparently made it to number three in the UK Charts in 1976 but I had definitely never come across it before finding it on CD2 of this collection. There's no way I would ever have forgotten that rather strange Louis Armstrong impersonation at the beginning.
In terms of packaging, the discs come in three separate cases, housed terrace-style in a cardboard sleeve. The individual sleeve notes are basic, but functional. I was a little disappointed to find that, when I play the discs on Windows Media Player neither the artists' names nor the titles of their work are displayed at all. It's only a minor point I'm sure but, nevertheless, it is just a little bit irritating. Oh, those sleeve notes reveal one little snippet of pertinent information which is not mentioned anywhere else: the version of 'Billy Don't Be A Hero' on CD2 is a 're-record'. Now, I don't want to say anything here that might in any way belittle Billy's selfless act of bravery, but this particular tribute to him is criminally lacking in drama compared to its 1974 predecessor. The lady plaintively pleading with Billy not to do anything that might scupper their future lives together originally sounded very sincere: not so much in this version. When she cheerfully warbles 'come back and make me your wife' in this version she just sounds like she's waving the poor fellow off on a one-man shopping expedition to Tesco's.
Despite that though, the second disc of this set is still my favourite; the presence of 'Day Trip To Bangor' swings that vote in this disc's favour entirely on its own. Suddenly, I am freed from the problem of only being able to enjoy that fabulous tune when I'm within earshot of a record player. I can now listen to that song while I'm out and about in my car or wherever else I might feel the urge to hear about that day of debauchery involving Jack and a bottle of cider in North Wales.
To sum up then, this is clearly NOT a 'definitive' collection. For a start, the phrase 'Seventies Pop' could be used to describe most of the songs that hit the charts during that whole decade. So it is never going to be the case that a three disc compilation, with a running time of only a little over three hours, can have a hope in hell of being anything like 'definitive'. But, if it can be encouraged to be just a little bit more modest, I think it has a very good chance of reinventing itself as an entertaining collection of seventies popular tunes, covering a very nice mixture of different music styles.
And, on the bright side of course, the fact that it is in no way definitive just means I won't have to stop buying other compilations. Which, given that I am something of a weak-willed spendthrift in that regard, is very good news indeed.