A Consumer Guide to the Trailing Edge: November, 2013

Recycled Goods (#114)

by Tom Hull

Long one this month, so I'll try to keep the intro short. Most of what follows is a consequence of holding last month's column to original LPs from the 1960s. There are a few 1960s artists I hadn't gotten to before (e.g., the Turtles). I wrote about Stevie Wonder before, but at the time his earliest records weren't available on Rhapsody, and now they are. Some artists straddle into the 1970s (e.g., Three Dog Night). Then I found some 1970s records I hadn't gotten to but should have (Bob Dylan, Marvin Gaye). But aside from holes in my 1960s survey and slop over into the 1970s, I felt I should look at some compilations. For various reasons, I wound up focusing on Universal's 20th Century Masters: The Millennium Collection. Initially I hoped to find useful compilations for artists that don't really have worthwhile albums, but it turns out that aside from Motown Universal doesn't have a lot of important 1960s labels. Admittedly, I didn't hit everything they had from the 1960s: still missing are Deep Purple, Richie Havens, Moody Blues, Phil Ochs, Poco, Righteous Brothers, Spanky & Our Gang, Steppenwolf, and various country, blues, and jazz artists, not to mention Engelbert Humperdinck -- if it isn't obvious, the point of the list is that most of what I didn't get to is pretty marginal. I also didn't bother with many 11-cut compilations of artists who deserve much more scrutiny -- Hank Williams, Buddy Holly, Billie Holiday, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters -- as well as artists better represented by individual albums, such as Dusty Springfield and the Flying Burrito Brothers (although I did write about the Velvet Underground).

I also didn't bother with compilations I've already graded -- a big part of my motivation here is to plug holes and catch up, as opposed to sorting everything out and giving definitive consumer guidance. The previously graded stuff from Universal's compilation series is listed simply in the Additional Consumer News, and in many cases you can track down earlier reviews using the indexing tools. Some day I'll collect those thousands of scattered reviews and index them by artist and try to make sense of it all. For now, I'm just creating new data and dumping it on the pile.

I can say that very little of what follows comes as a surprise -- the only surprises for me are Brook Benton and David Ruffin, at least on the positive side. And by the way, Marvin Gaye's early 1970s albums What's Going On and Let's Get It On weren't unfamiliar to me: I probably had the LPs and I certainly had Motown's twofer CD of them but hadn't bothered to break it out in the database. I will say that when I replayed them I wound up liking the former a bit more and the latter a bit less than I expected. So score that a refinement.

The featured Art Pepper is the only actual CD I had to review this month. That led me to check to see what holes I could fill there, but I didn't find much -- at least short of breaking out all the late Galaxy recordings I know from the 16-CD box. One record I thought about doing and didn't get to is the latest Dylan bootleg: started to prep for it, but couldn't bring myself to slog through three CDs worth of music on Rhapsody. Also noticed that all those 1975-90 albums that I missed have been remastered. Something else to do, although I'll be surprised if any I've missed are worth the trouble.

A couple housekeeping notes: The total number of records reviewed in Recycled Goods crossed the 4000 mark this month (4035). Also, I'm trying something different on comments: If I read the controls right, comments are allowed, but have to go through a moderation queue first, so they won't show up immediately. I'm happy to discuss these posts, but in the recent period when comments were enabled the overwhelming majority were spam -- often superficially complimentary, but lacking any concrete reference to the posts, so I've generally had to go in after the fact and clean them out. Also note that the ACN lists are after the fold.

The Funk Brothers: 20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection: The Best of the Funk Brothers (1960-72 [2004], Motown): General, and probably post-facto, name for the Motown house band during the label's Detroit era (or for whatever musicians happened to be in the studio at any given time) -- there are several stories about how the name came about, but but it wasn't given any wide currency until the documentary Standing in the Shadows of Motown came out in 2002, and Motown didn't release any product under the name until this compilation of ten instrumental tracks plus two with backing vocals. Most are big hits for the label's various artists, but a couple did appear as singles by Earl Van Dyke & the Soul Brothers (or just Earl Van Dyke) -- Van Dyke was one of Motown's regular keyboard players, and in most cases here the lead instrument is the organ. This would be a nice story if the tracks turned out to be brilliant, but they wind up being little more than Motown for karaoke. No doubt the band could play, but this was a singers' label with the producers often slipping in something marvelous behind the vocals, not in place of it. B [R]

Marvin Gaye: What's Going On (1971, Tamla): With Gaye at least sharing every writing credit this should be the point where he graduates from performer to auteur, and three astonishing singles should be enough to anchor a landmark album, which this is often taken to be. Still, "Mercy Mercy Me" and "Inner City Blues" seem less articulate when mixed in with "Save the Children" and "Wholly Holy," where strings that are tolerable at best ripen and rot. Even "Right On" wears thin before its 7:31 expires, and the tail end of "Inner City Blues" got trimmed from the single. So, one of the most overrated albums of the era, flawed throughout, yet just magnificent enough. A- [R]

Art Pepper: Unreleased Art Vol. VIII: Live at the Winery September 6, 1976 (1976 [2013], Widow's Taste): Pepper got out of jail in 1965 but played very little until 1975 when he kicked off his final comeback with the brilliant album Living Legend. Most of the previous seven Unreleased Art volumes focus on live gigs from his last years, 1980-82, working with regular touring bands. This catches him a few years earlier, at the Paul Masson Winery in Saratoga with a no-name pickup band from the Bay Area. They aren't bad -- pianist Smith Dobson acquits himself particularly well -- but Pepper plays with exceptional verve, right out of the gate with a fast "Caravan" up through the "Straight Life" encore. Most of these songs are staples on his numerous live albums from the era, but he rarely raced through this this fast and with this much vigor. A-

In Series:

The following compilations are all in Universal's series, 20th Century Masters: The Millennium Collection. The series started appearing in 1999, under the various label names used by Universal Music -- notably, MCA, Mercury, Polydor/Polygram, Motown, Island, Verve, Def Jam, A&M, with various older labels like Decca, ABC, Duke, Chess, Impulse, and Philips sucked into the machine. The idea was to come out with a sub-$10 compilation -- most sell for around $6 these days -- and to reinforce the cheapness they arbitrarily limited the CDs to 11 cuts each (later expanding to 12), regardless of how short the songs were -- many wound up well under 30 minutes, Buddy Holly and Hank Williams being glaring examples (not least because they have many more songs worth hearing; Chuck Berry is another, given that the flawless The Great Twenty-Eight fits onto a single disc).

For artists like Berry, Holly, and Williams, you are much better off looking for denser compilations, even if they cost more. However, there are artists who start to thin out much earlier, and for them 10-12 cuts may be just right, or even a bit generous. Over the years I've picked up a few dozen of the 400+ titles in the series -- see Additional Consumer News -- mostly looking for discs that seemed "right-sized" (examples include Bill Haley, Jerry Butler, Brenda Lee, and Don Williams). But coming out of several columns on 1960s LPs, it occurred to me that I should explore some compilations by 1960s artists, and I settled on this series to focus on: I figured they were cheap, consistent, extensive, and mostly still in print (although Universal has recently started their Icon series using roughly the same formula). Then I counted them and realized I'd never finish, so I tried to focus on 1960s and earlier artists, slipping into the 1970s as I had started to do with artists like Marvin Gaye, below.

Universal followed The Millennium Collection with two more broad-ranging series, for artists they felt merited deeper treatment. Starting around 2004 (and picking up steam 2006-08), the launched a full-length single-CD series, The Definitive Collection. The first releases in the series came out of the country music division, and it was offered unevenly across Universal's divisions -- eventually the Chess and Motown catalogs were well represented, but nothing ever appeared from Casablanca, Island, or Def Jam (e.g., no Kiss, Donna Summer, Parliament, or Bob Marley, but you get Bill Anderson and Billy Ray Cyrus). My grades are in the ACN.

Finally, Universal released a 2-CD series called Gold. A couple points here: to save work (you know, costs), in at least some (maybe many) cases they took existing 2-CD compilations and simply repackaged them under the new name. For instance, Marvin Gaye's Gold simply repackages a 2001 compilation, The Very Best of Marvin Gaye (losing most of the documentation). Also, the megacorp's various international divisions got into the act, so you can find a lot of names unfamiliar in the US. And, divisions being divisions, you get some oddities like two of them reissuing different Bing Crosby compilations under the same Gold name. The ACN includes my grade list there, but it doesn't cover much, and doesn't figure out redundancies (e.g., Gaye's Gold would be an A+, unless I discounted for the missing doc.

For the following reviews, I've also noted some previously graded records to be considered: because The Millennium Collection runs short, these are generally longer/more expensive) alternatives, but they hold up quite well. (For the Velvet Underground I listed the constituent albums, since they are little, if any, improved by concentration.) Of course, there are many alternatives that I don't mention, for the simple reason I never bothered with them myself. It is very likely that the average Motown artist here has at least six and probably more like eight redundant generations of "best of" compilation, starting with the 1960s vintage Greatest Hits and including up to three generations of Anthology (first the 3LP sets in the 1970s, then two different 2CD sets) and on to the three series mentioned here -- as well as the older Motown Legends and the newer Icon series. No one can cover all those variants, and there's no simple way to grade them. My first thought is to try to imagine someone who doesn't own anything and estimate the value of adding a given compilation, but even that's hardly simple.

Louis Armstrong: The Best of Louis Armstrong (1949-67 [1999], MCA): Not even close, but this is representative of the first Armstrong I first fell in love with, the elder showman with a gravelly voice he could contort to sing anything, if not perfectly so uniquely no one else could touch it, and that trumpet, it could cut through any fog and pin you to your seat; nowadays I wonder if young people think it was him doing the favor for Bing Crosby on "Gone Fishin'." A [R]

Also consider:

  • An American Icon (1946-68 [1998], Hip-O, 3CD) A

Joan Baez: The Best of Joan Baez (1971-75 [1999], A&M): Skipping past a decade of folk songs on Vanguard -- reprising her only hit, "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down," with a live take -- this follows her move into the commercial mainstream at A&M which peaked in 1975 with Diamonds & Rust, with its stately arrangements, songs from others (Jackson Browne, John Prine, and Janis Ian made the cut), and help from Joni Mitchell. C+ [R]

Brook Benton: The Best of Brook Benton (1959-70 [2000], Mercury): Had a longer career behind the scenes as a songwriter and producer, but he had a brief run of hits 1959-63 starting with "Endlessly" and "It's Just a Matter of Time," some duets with Dinah Washington, a novelty about a boll weevil "just lookin' for a home," then added one more in 1970, "A Rainy Night in Georgia"; often regarded as a smooth singer, I'd say he was comfortable -- no strain, no struggle, but sure of himself. A- [R]

Bobby Bland: The Best of Bobby Bland (1961-74 [2000], MCA): Filed under blues because his label was too cheap to give him a state-of-the-art band like the Muscle Shoals outfit that lifted Otis Redding and Aretha Franklin into soul, but he was there in spirit from the mid-1950s on and his his prime in the 1960s; he never had much presence on the pop charts -- his only top-20 was "Ain't Nothing You Can Do" in 1964 -- but that doesn't matter much with him: the rule-of-thumb on his compilations is "more is more." A- [R]

Also consider:

  • I Pity the Fool: The Duke Recordings, Vol. 1 (1952-60 [1992], MCA, 2CD) A-
  • The Voice: Duke Recordings 1959-69 (1959-69 [1991], Ace) A
  • Greatest Hits Vol. One: The Duke Recordings (1957-69 [1998], MCA) A
  • Greatest Hits Vol. Two: The ABC-Dunhill/MCA Recordings (1973-84 [1998], MCA) A-

Pat Boone: The Best of Pat Boone (1955-62 [2000], MCA): He's led a long and charmed life, with 38 top-40 singles, over 45 million albums sold, numerous movie and TV appearances, yet he's known today mostly as an extreme right-wing Christian blowhard and, for those aware of 1950s history, as the original cover artist -- a white guy who could take an r&b hit and turn it into pop hit by making it sound white (and let's face it, nobody sounded whiter than Boone, especially when he was bleaching out Fats Domino and Little Richard); this tries hard to give him a fair shake, omitting his "Tutti Frutti" in favor of its deadly flipside, including just one gospel (and an upbeat one at that), salvaging his two hits worth hearing again ("Love Letters in the Sand" and "Moody River"), never dropping below 11 on the hit parade (a feat they could have improved on by substituting "Why Baby Why" or "Long Tall Sally"), and ending with on a rocking note with "Speedy Gonzales" -- ding that if you want as a racist stereotype: that was, after all, his calling. B- [R]

Carpenters: Carpenters (1970-78 [2002], A&M): Siblings Richard and Linda Carpenter -- she sang and he produced and wrote a little -- were very successful in the 1970s with their mix of romantic ballads and pop remakes, especially in the anti-rock "adult contemporary" market I studiously avoided, so I have no idea whether this gives them a fair shake, but will note that the series' usual The Best Of was blotted out by their logo, and that only 5 of the 12 songs here come from their 17 top-twenty singles; only songs I enjoyed here were "Top of the World" and a "Please Mr. Postman" that didn't send me immediately back to the Marvellettes, although that's where I'll always look for it. C+ [R]

Johnny Cash: The Best of Johnny Cash (1985-89 [2002], Mercury Nashville): His four years at Mercury yielded albums no more consistent than his decades at Columbia, but they could have sorted them out into a decent compilation of obscurities, but they had Cash re-record many of his classics and decided to go with them instead; it's not like he hadn't sung "I Walk the Line" or "Folsom Prison Blues" in thirty years, so the renditions are fine, but the whole thing is tinged with fraud. B- [R]

Johnny Cash: The Best of Johnny Cash Volume 2 (1985-90 [2007], Mercury Nashville): The remakes are down from eight to three, you get "The Highwayman" licensed from Columbia, and seven tracks from Cash's four Mercury albums including guest spots for Hank Williams Jr., June Carter Cash, and the Everly Brothers, but the best thing here is James Talley's tribute to "W. Lee O'Daniel"; just goes to show that if you try to compile a best-of from four Johnny Cash albums you're likely to come up with something even stranger. B+(*) [R]

Also consider:

  • The Essential Johnny Cash (1955-83 [1992], Columbia/Legacy, 3CD) A
  • The Legend (1955-2002 [2005], Columbia/Legacy, 4CD) A
  • The Legend of Johnny Cash (1955-2003 [2005], Island) A-

Cher: The Best of Cher (1971-79 [2000], MCA): Over the long run, more important as a multi-faceted entertainment mogul -- had a hit TV series, several exceptional acting roles, a live show as glittery as Liberace -- than as a singer; her three number ones here -- "Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves," "Dark Lady," "Half-Breed" -- are of a piece but nothing else really approaches them, and the fourth-best song here is the ringer with Sonny. B+(*) [R]

Cher: The Best of Cher Volume 2 (1987-98 [2004], Hip-O): Scattered hits, anything -- even a remake of "The Shoop Shoop Song" -- to avoid becoming an oldies act, but to do so she came up with an arena sound as huge and inflexible as her voice and nearly every cut here merges into one loud thump -- exceptions are "Just Like Jesse James" (early and relatively clear) and "Believe" (late with techn flair). B- [R]

The Commodores: The Best of the Commodores (1974-84 [1999], Motown): Had a reputation as a funk band, and indeed the only song of theirs I've heard in decades is "Brick House," but they got most of their chart hits from Lionel Richie ballads and they dominate here -- not quite a wet blanket, but few match "Three Times a Lady," or even try to split the difference like "Nightshift." B [R]

Billy Ray Cyrus: The Best of Billy Ray Cyrus (1992-98 [2003], Mercury Nashville): Country singer, has a reputation for being a one-hit wonder, but with 13 albums and 39 singles it's not for lack of trying; so many people dissed "Achy Breaky Heart" to me that I'm surprised to see how demure it is, but I suppose that's part of the hook -- and part of the reason why this most average of country singers hasn't been taken seriously since then -- only two of all those singles since 1993 (32 of them) went top-10 country, and one was co-credited to his daughter. B [R]

Sammy Davis Jr.: The Best of Sammy Davis Jr. (1972-74 [2002], Polydor): Back around 1960, before the civil rights breakthroughs, the black man you were most likely to encounter on network TV was this vaudeville-bred song-and-dance man, a consummate entertainer, what you'd now call a personality; I grew up admiring him, as much as I did Louis Armstrong or Nat King Cole, but unlike them his musical legacy fails to satisfy my memory -- his career-spanning 4-CD Rhino box, Yes I Can!, is unlistenable, and not just because his only chart-topping single was 1972's ultra-icky "Candy Man"; as far as I can tell -- Davis is not someone the world has kept an immaculate discography of -- this is a late-career slice from a couple years on MGM Records, including the hit, its inevitably sequel, some more movie crap, and some show biz standards (including a Porgy and Bess medley); it has a few moments when you think he could be great, much more when you realize he's a hack, some that make you understand why, and some that are just unforgivable; aside from "Candy Man," you could zoom into any fragment of his career and find the same. B- [R]

DeBarge: The Best of DeBarge (1982-86 [2000], Motown): Another family vocal group, the signature falsetto belonging to Eldra, who went on to have a spotty solo career as El DeBarge; I know people who revere In a Special Way, but I've never warmed to it or much of anything else -- it's intricate and artful but doesn't move me; this doesn't bother with their debut, The DeBarges, but adds El's first single ("Who's Johnny," number 3 in 1986). B+(*) [R]

The Del Vikings: The Best of the Del Vikings (1956-58 [2004], Hip-O): Integrated doo-wop group from an air base near Pittsburgh, things got messy with contracts and a spliter group called the Dell Vikings, but they had two early hits you'll recognize from many doo-wop comps ("Come Go With Me" and "Whispering Bells"), and fare well with with other songs here, especially "A Sunday Kind of Love" and "The Big Beat." B+(**) [R]

Freddy Fender: The Best of Freddy Fender (1974-77 [2001], MCA Nashville): Baldemar Huerta cut a minor hit in 1959 called "Wasted Days and Wasted Nights," his limelight cut short by a prison term, but eventually recut his song in 1974 and topped that with "Before the Next Teardrop Falls"; Fender's compilations are a mess, not least because he recut a lot: at least you can trust these cuts came off the ABC albums, but this gets gummed up in places -- one can surely do better. B+(***) [R]

Also consider:

  • Lone Star: The Best of Freddy Fender ([1999], Music Club) A- (but where did this stuff come from?)

Four Tops: The Best of Four Tops (1964-73 [1999], Motown): A marvelous vocal group anchored by the strong voice of Levi Stubbs, their heyday hits are among the most danceable Motown produced, but they have a tendency to excess, making them the one major group where more is often too much; however, the two post-1968 singles here are exceptionally delicate things, the first seven cuts are nothing short of awesome, and the two 1967-68 covers show that it really is possible to get away with murder ("If I Were a Carpenter," "Walk Away Renee"). A- [R]

Four Tops: The Best of Four Tops Volume 2 (1972-83 [2005], Hip-O): Not a second helping of Motown singles (even though the previous volume left "It's the Same Old Song" on the shelf, as well as shit like "MacArthur Park" that belongs there); rather, the group went to ABC in 1972 and Casablanca in 1981, and this covers those years adequately, with three singles charting 10-15, more that barely cracked the top-100, and some album cuts including a very hot medley thrash with the Temptations. B+(*) [R]

Marvin Gaye: The Best of Marvin Gaye Volume 1: The '60s (1962-69 [1999], Motown): A decade's worth of spotty albums and scattered singles, not a lot of progress from 1962's "Stubborn Kind of Fellow" to 1969's "That's the Way Love Is," but there's little to fault here, other than omitting hits with "his girls" -- not that separating Tammi Terrell out isn't a bad idea -- and stopping at eleven cuts. A [R]

Marvin Gaye: The Best of Marvin Gaye Volume 2: The '70s (1971-77 [2000], Motown): Gaye remained as inconsistent and sporadically brilliant in the 1970s as he had earlier, topping the singles charts only twice with pure funk moves, "Let's Get It On" and "Got to Give It Up" -- his most consistent album for Motown was probably 1978's divorce tantrum Hear, My Dear, unrepresented here; some great songs here -- the live "Distant Lover" is a revelation -- but they wind up getting to eleven by including an unvarnished demo the label had overdubbed and tried to pawn off as a posthumous single in 1991. A- [R]

Also consider:

  • Anthology (1961-77 [1986], Motown, 2CD) A+
  • The Very Best of Marvin Gaye (1962-82 [2001], Motown, 2CD) A

Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell: The Best of Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell (1967-69 [2000], Motown): They cut eleven singles (four top-ten) and three albums together before the 24-year-old Terrell succumbed to brain cancer in March 1970; this could have been fleshed out with cuts from Gaye's earlier duet albums with Mary Wells and Kim Weston as was the 1969 album Marvin Gaye and His Girls; as it is, this drops the last two singles in favor of earlier album cuts, front loads the hits, and ends with a steady sameness. B+(***) [R]

Tom T. Hall: The Best of Tom T. Hall (1969-84 [2000], MCA Nashville): Hall writes two kinds of songs: sharply observed but sympathetic stories, mostly about others (like "Who'll Feed Them Hogs" -- not here, but "A Week in Country Jail" and "Ballad of Forty Dollars" are), and sappy homilies (e.g., "I Care," "I Love," and "I Like Beer"); the former came earlier in his career, and his compilations are exactly as good as the proportion of the former to the latter; this one was picked mostly by chart position, and Nashville loves sappy (not to mention beer). B+(*) [R]

Also consider:

  • The Essential Tom T. Hall: The Story Songs (1968-84 [1998], Mercury) A+
  • The Definitive Collection (1968-84 [2006], Hip-O) A-

Michael Jackson: The Best of Michael Jackson (1971-75 [2000], Motown): This shares "Got to Be There" with the Jackson 5 comp, but as long as they're stuck in Jackson's Motown period where his most mature work was done at age 16, you can see why: even without getting to eleven songs meant three singles charting 50 or below, two missed altogether, and an album cut that's even worse than "Ben" -- his one chart topper; on the other hand "Rockin' Robin" is fun, and the three cuts from Forever, Michael suggest he's starting to get it together, as he did spectacularly in 1979's Off the Wall. B- [R]

The Jackson 5: The Best of the Jackson 5 (1969-74 [1999], Motown): The family business caught fire when 10-year-old Michael Jackson took the lead with four straight number ones -- "I Want You Back" and "ABC" brought back the jangle of Motown's heyday, but they rarely peaked like that again, even though they got away with a few ballads and lucked out with the rote "Dancing Machine"; this includes two songs released under Michael Jackson's name, one more I can't tie down to any obvious source; a very inconsistent outfit, brilliant for a moment. A- [R]

Tom Jones: The Best of Tom Jones (1965-71 [2000], Polydor): A saloon singer from Wales, known today as Sir Thomas John Woodward, OBE, had perhaps the oddest series of hits of anyone -- "It's Not Unusual," "What's New Pussycat," "Green, Green Grass of Home," "Delilah," "She's a Lady" -- in part because he was never a rocker but he fully understood how to play the garish rockstar life, throwing his excessive voice into kitschy songs with abandon. B+(**) [R]

Also consider:

  • Reloaded: Greatest Hits (1965-2003 [2003], Decca/UTV) A-

Eddie Kendricks: The Best of Eddie Kendricks (1973-85 [2000], Motown): Falsetto lead for the Temptations in the 1960s, had a fair measure of success as a solo act 1971-81 -- the cuts here and most of his chart activity come from 1973-77 except for a closing medley of old Temps hits done live with David Ruffin and Hall & Oates. B+(**) [R]

Gladys Knight & the Pips: The Best of Gladys Knight & the Pips (1967-73 [2000], Motown): The Pips had a hit in 1961 and a career post-Knight, and Knight went on to have a few good years at Buddah and a long decline, but this sticks to their Motown years -- they came in as Motown started its decline and only had three top-ten hits -- the last a tour de force ballad, "Neither One of Us (Wants to Be the First to Say Goodbye)." A- [R]

Patti LaBelle: The Best of Patti LaBelle (1984-97 [1999], Geffen): Started in the early 1960s as a doo wop singer with the Blue Belles, got a second act as the namesake but not the leader of the 1970s girl group Labelle, and a third in 1977 when she signed with Epic as a solo artist; two labels later she wound up on MCA for the long period sampled here. B [R]

Curtis Mayfield & the Impressions: The Best of Curtis Mayfield & the Impressions (1961-72 [2000], Geffen/MCA): I don't think the Chicago soul group ever released an album with Mayfield's name up front -- doing so here lets the compilers tack two hit singles from Mayfield's Superfly contract onto ten extraordinary Impressions singles, with Mayfield's lead voice the unifying flow -- although Sam Gooden and Fred Cash, who carried on with the group name, contributed a lot too; Jerry Butler, by the way, left the Impressions before this series, and has his own excellent 20th Century Masters compilation. A [R]

Also consider:

  • The Anthology (1961-77 [1993], MCA, 2CD) A+

Roger Miller: The Best of Roger Miller (1964-66 [1999], MCA): An underrated Nashville songwriter until his freakish mid-sixties string of novelties gained him stardom, a TV show that showed off his comic genius, and success he let ruin the rest of his life; you can find gems all over his box set, but the ten funny ones here are what he's reknown for -- from his cackling variant on yodeling ("Do-Wacka-Do") to cornball wisdom ("King of the Road," "You Can't Roller Skate in a Buffalo Herd"), and the two not-so-funny ones ("One Dyin' and a Buryin'" and "Husbands and Wives") show what deep roots the humor sprung from. A [R]

Also consider:

  • The Best of Roger Miller, Vol. 2: King of the Road (1957-72 [1992], Mercury) A
  • King of the Road: The Genius of Roger Miller (1957-86 [1995], Mercury, 3CD) A

The Mills Brothers: The Best of the Mills Brothers (1941-67 [2000]), MCA): Started recording in 1931, described as "four boys and a guitar," noted for their vocal mimic of brass horns; they were very successful in the early 1930s (17 top-ten singles), but this doesn't pick them up until they moved to Decca in 1941 and landed a number one with "Paper Doll"; their last big hit was "The Glow-Worm" in 1952, by which time they were using real bands and getting a looser pop sound that depended less on their harmonizing. B+(***) [R]

Patti Page: The Best of Patti Page (1950-57 [2003], Mercury): The best-selling female artist of the 1950s, selling over 100 million records, but her biggest hits came in the pre-rock half of the decade and even "Tennessee Waltz" and "Mockin' Bird Hill" sound rather maudlin today -- the lush "Old Cape Cod" holds up better, and "(How Much Is That) Doggie in the Window" remains a curious novelty. B+(*) [R]

The Platters: The Best of the Platters (1955-61 [1999], Mercury): A very successful vocal group in the late 1950s, somewhere upscale of doo-wop with their less-than-rocking string arrangements, led by Tony Williams with female vocalist Zola Taylor added to the quartet; they charted 40 hits 1956-67 so if you're into them you should look for a larger anthology; this includes all seven of their top-tens. A- [R]

Lloyd Price: The Best of Lloyd Price (1956-60 [2002], MCA): From New Orleans, had an R&B hit for Specialty in 1952 called "Lawdy Miss Clawdy" (re-recorded here) and recorded enough to fill up a pretty good compilation -- Lawdy! (1952-56 [1991], Specialty) -- then moved to ABC and was all over the airwaves in 1959-60 with fourteen singles, three top-ten on the pop charts, more on R&B, then moved into business A- [R]

Also consider:

  • Greatest Hits: The Original ABC-Paramount Recordings (1956-60 [1994], MCA) A

Rare Earth: The Best of Rare Earth (1969-73 [2013], Motown): Motown's token white group, had three top-ten singles -- "I Just Want to Celebrate" and two Motown standards best remembered elsewhere; this comp breaks with the 11-12 cut norm, giving you only 7 cuts but with the side-length album versions of "Get Ready" (21:32) and "Ma" (17:18) you wind up with more than an hour of music; while singles like "Born to Wander" are good enough, the long jams are way above the rock band norm; only on "What'd I Say" did they bite off more than they could chew. B+(***) [R]

Martha Reeves & the Vandellas: The Best of Martha Reeves & the Vandellas (1963-67 [1999], Motown): Originally the Del-Phis then the Vells, then from 1962 Martha and the Vandellas, with Reeves inserted in 1967 when Motown decided to put more focus on the lead singer; they only scored six top-ten singles, the biggest "Dancing in the Streets" at number two, but this sticks to their prime. A- [R]

Also consider:

  • The Definitive Collection (1963-71 [2008], Motown) A-

Smokey Robinson: The Best of Smokey Robinson (1973-87 [2000], Motown): When Robinson went solo black pop was splitting into several streams -- disco, funk, hip-hop (ok, later), and a refined form of smooth crooning which Robinson was such a natural at his annual albums hardly ever got noticed; three top-ten singles, so unremarkable and so consistend you'd be hard pressed to pick them out from the misses. B+(**) [R]

Smokey Robinson & the Miracles: The Best of Smokey Robinson & the Miracles (1960-87 [1999], Motown): They mean "and/or" for "&": Robinson was the main singer-songwriter for the Miracles from 1959-72, but his name only appeared on the marquee from 1967-72; from 1973 on, Robinson and the Miracles split ways, the group recording a number one hit (the closer here, "Love Machine") in 1975, while Robinson's solo efforts are represented here by two top-ten singles from 1979 and 1987; generous as those three songs are for the chart-conscious, they could easily have been replaced by period songs, hits or not; still, the first six cuts are essential. A- [R]

Also consider:

  • Anthology (1958-75 [1995], Motown, 2CD) A-

Diana Ross: The Best of Diana Ross (1970-81 [2000], Motown): A decade of adaptation, signalled perhaps by her willingness to play a very different singer in order to land a movie she couldn't capitalize on, but she retained sufficient star power to score six number one singles -- in almost as many styles, and only the Lionel Richie ballad is hard to swallow. B+(***) [R]

Diana Ross & the Supremes: The Best of Diana Ross & the Supremes (1964-69 [1999], Motown): Absolutely prime Motown, 10 (of 11) singles number ones, "Reflections" topping out at number two; only the last three were originally issued with Ross' name out front; should have been longer -- two number ones missed the cut, as well as "My World Is Empty Without You" and "Love Is Like an Itching in My Heart" -- but the 2CD Anthology starts to slack off. A [R]

Diana Ross & the Supremes: The Best of Diana Ross & the Supremes Volume 2 (1965-71 [2000], Motown): Leftovers, which after the first volume means two number ones, six more top tens, the others topping out at {11, 16, 16}; the last four cuts replaced Ross with Jean Terrell -- they fall off a bit, as much the decline of the studio as the change in singer, but not that much. A- [R]

David Ruffin: The Best of David Ruffin (1969-85 [2000], Motown): With the most recognizable voice from the 1960s Temptations, his early singles sound more like the old group than the Tempts did in the 1970s, albeit without the group's polish, not to mention Kendricks' falsetto; I totally missed him at the time, so the echoes have an air of discovery, even if it's just an obscure footnote to a great group. A- [R]

The Shangri-Las: The Best of the Shangri-Las (1964-67 [2002], Mercury): Girl group, had two big hits in 1964 ("Remember," "Leader of the Pack") and a third that many of you know better from the New York Dolls' cover ("Give Him a Great Big Kiss") but only had one top-ten hit after that ("I Can Never Go Home Anymore"); this winds up roughly equivalent to their first album, the filler replaced with failed singles -- more drama, less raunch, but comprehensive enough. B+(***) [R]

Edwin Starr: The Best of Edwin Starr (1965-78 [2001], Motown): Had a minor hit with "Agent Double-O Soul," a bigger one with "25 Miles," and a monster with "War" ("what's it good for? absolutely nothing"), big enough he followed it up with the almost identical "Stop the War Now" ("good God!"); he hung on for a long -- funky music may indeed have turned him on, but aside from the great "War" songs, his won't do much for you. B [R]

Barrett Strong: The Best of Barrett Strong (1959-61 [2003], Motown): A minor singer in Motown's earliest days, but his was the name on the company's first hit single, "Money (That's What I Want)"; he cut five more singles, all of them here, then hung on as a lyricist writing songs with Norman Whitfield, including hits for Marvin Gaye, Edwin Starr, and, especially, the Temptations; he left Motown and cut a couple albums in the 1970s and one in 2008; straight R&B, no special flash or charisma. B

The Temptations: The Best of the Temptations Volume 2: The '70s, '80s, '90s (1970-98 [2000], Motown): I'm such a pure fan of the Temptations' 1966 Greatest Hits that I've resisted every attempt to tack on later hits -- even the first four here ("Ball of Confusion," "Psychedelic Shack," "Just My Imagination," "Papa Was a Rolling Stone"); the first volume, by extending through 1969, crosses my line with "Cloud Nine" but finishes as strong as this one starts; eight cuts from 1970-75, two 1982-84, one from 1998, nothing after "Masterpiece" strikes me as essential, but the remainder shows they were more than a perfunctory funk band and never lost the knack for changing up with a ballad. A- [R]

Also consider:

  • Greatest Hits (1964-66 [1966], Motown) A+
  • Anthology (1964-86 [1995], Motown, 2CD) A-

Three Dog Night: The Best of Three Dog Night (1969-74 [1999], MCA): An economical package, with all 11 top-10 hits plus "Celebrate" (peaked at 15 but a better choice than "The Family of Man" at 12 if not "One Man Band" at 19), but the one thing that most strikes me about this group is how efficient they were at converting their more tolerable album songs into hit singles -- only "Joy to the World" is a grade-A single, and while nothing here is awful, there was no dearth of quality singles in this period. B+(**) [R]

The Velvet Underground: The Best of the Velvet Underground (1967-69, [2000], Mercury/Polydor): The compilers cheaped out on Loaded royalties by substituting earlier live versions of three songs, but otherwise this is as generous -- the 17:25 of "Sister Ray" pushes this over the hour mark -- and as select as possible, not that it comes close to exhausting any of the three essential albums on Verve. A [R]

Also consider:

  • The Velvet Underground and Nico (1967, Verve) A+
  • White Light, White Heat (1968, Verve) A
  • The Velvet Underground (1969, Verve) A+

Jr. Walker & the All Stars: The Best of Jr. Walker & the All Stars (1965-72 [2000], Motown): Saxophone player, best known for "Shotgun" with its organ vamp and sax-led call-and-response; not a bad singer, even taking a whack at "How Sweet It Is" and the sweeter still "What Does It Take," but his home turf is jump blues like "Pucker Up Buttercup" and "Shake and Fingerpop"; he manages to jump "Come See About Me" but "These Eyes" wriggles off the hook. A- [R]

Dinah Washington: The Best of Dinah Washington (1949-61 [2002], Hip-O): Styled herself "queen of the blues" but she aimed more for crossover pop and landed more in jazz even though, until her three top-ten pop hits in 1959-60, she spent most of her career on the R&B charts; trying to compile her by checking the charts is a fool's errand, guaranteeing you'll miss her most interesting work and wind up with lots of lame big band and string arrangements. B+(**) [R]

Also consider:

  • The Dinah Washington Story (1943-61 [1993], Mercury, 2CD) A

Stevie Wonder: The Best of Stevie Wonder (1963-71 [2005], Motown): Easily the better half of Wonder's two early Greatest Hits packages -- I'd trade "Blowin' in the Wind" and maybe "A Place in the Sun" for "Hey Harmonica Man" and, oh, "Never Had a Dream Come True" or "Never Dreamed You'd You'd Leave in Summer," but that's about it -- without getting into the period when he made albums where you won't want to miss a single song. A [R]

Briefly Noted

Hoyt Axton: The Balladeer: Recorded Live at the Troubadour (1962, Horizon): Folksinger from Oklahoma, mother co-wrote "Heartbreak Hotel" and he wrote some hits for others, including "Greenback Dollar" (Kingston Trio) here, one of many strong performances on mostly old folk songs, barked out and backed by only his own guitar. B+(*) [R]

Tina Brooks: The Waiting Game (1961 [2002], Blue Note): A tenor saxophonist, led four sessions for Blue Note 1958-61 in a career that ended even before his death at age 42; this was the last, shelved until 1999 when it appeared in Japan; quintet with Johnny Coles (trumpet), Kenny Drew (piano), Wilbur Ware and Philly Joe Jones -- for anyone else this would be an eye-opener, but every album Brooks cut (at least for Blue Note) cooks like this. A- [R]

Bob Dylan: Self Portrait (1970, Columbia): This is where Herr Zimmerman lets the air out of his own tires and drives around drunk on rims, thinking he's exacting revenge on the world -- not least for taking him too seriously, the first of many records to disabuse us of any such foolishness; not that I mind hearing him play "Days of 49," "Little Sadie," or a couple others -- he returned to that sort of thing on 1992's Good as I Been to You when he was finally finding himself again, but when your high points are throwaways, it's no surprise that your filler is for shit. C [R]

Bob Dylan: New Morning (1970, Columbia): A return to form, although I'm less sure about the content -- the side openers are catchy but lightweight, the closers idiosyncratic and elusive, the filler overly repetitive; overrated in the wake of Self Portrait (although not nearly so much as Blood on the Tracks would be in 1975), but not unlikable. B+(**) [R]

Freddy Fender: Before the Next Teardrop Falls (1974-75 [1995], MCA Special Markets): His first ABC-Dot album slightly shuffled, with his two big hits, tender readings of "You'll Lose a Good Thing" and "After the Fire Is Gone" and "Wild Side of Life," and a "Roses Are Red" that only he can get away with, plus proof of his Tex-Mex and Cajun roots. B+(***)

Marvin Gaye: Trouble Man (1972, Tamla): This is where Gaye finally writes everything, but it's a soundtrack, mostly instrumental, some of it quite enjoyable (like the rhythm-and-sax "'T' Plays It Cool"), some struggling for air while being strangled by strings; five songs have some vocals, the title track a hit if not much of an advance. B [R]

Marvin Gaye: Let's Get It On (1973, Tamla): Big hit single, keyed more to the lovers rock of Al Green than to the emerging funk focus, and rounded out with more quiet storm than one can absorb while still trying to "get it on" -- sexy, for sure, and no complaints about inconsistency or string-dreck or whatever. B+(***) [R]

Marvin Gaye: Live! (1974, Tamla): Filler product, recycling his recent hits while relegating six from the ancient 1960s to the "Fossil Medley"; the new song is the dud here, but the live version of "Distant Lover" smolders so hot they released it as a single; Gene Page's orchestra is perfunctory, but they swell up impressively on the outro to "What's Going On." B [R]

Marvin Gaye: I Want You (1976, Tamla): More filler product, although it's harder to say this was conceived as such; Leon Ware produced and co-wrote all the songs, more often with someone named Arthur "T-Boy" Ross than with anyone named Gaye, and two of the pieces also appear as instrumentals, not that there's any evidence of Gaye exercising, much less straining, his voice. B- [R]

Marvin Gaye: In Our Lifetime (1981 [1994], Tamla): Last Motown album, following Here, My Dear, his settlement for his divorce from Anna Gordy; a very agreeable funk-groove album, passed me twice with no problems but also no songs standing out. B+(***) [R]

Michael Jackson: Forever, Michael (1975, Motown): Fourth album, transitional as you'd expect from the 16-year-old artist although nothing that would make you anticipate Off the Wall four-and-a-half years hence. B+(*) [R]

Art Pepper: Gettin' Together (1960 [1984], Contemporary/OJC): As with his acclaimed 1957 album, Art Pepper Meets the Rhythm Section, Pepper trusts Miles Davis with his recruiting -- Paul Chambers is on both, with Wynton Kelly and Jimmy Cobb here -- but adds Conte Candoli on trumpet for a relatively carefree outing between his ambitious Modern Jazz Classics and the intense Smack Up; OJC edition adds two alternate takes that give Pepper the focus he needs. B+(***) [R]

Art Pepper: Art Pepper Today (1978 [1990], Galaxy/OJC): Quartet with Stanley Cowell (piano), Cecil McBee (bass), and Roy Haynes (drums), less avant than usual for Cowell and McBee with two lovely standards ("Lover Come Back to Me" and "These Foolish Things") and several of Pepper's fast boppish pieces, less than spectacular only by his own standards. B+(***) [R]

Diana Ross/Marvin Gaye: Diana & Marvin (1973, Motown): Their duet album, neither at an artistic or commercial peak, but two pros who can get under each other's skin and tweak them up a bit, when they have a mind to; three singles, the most successful "You're a Special Part of Me" peaking at 12, and no follow ups even though both were at Motown for another 7-8 years. B+(**) [R]

The Supremes: Meet the Supremes (1962, Motown): Girl group, originally a foursome but down to Diana Ross, Mary Wilson, and Florence Ballard by the time the cover was laid out; mostly songs by Berry Gordy Jr. or Smokey Robinson, spawned four singles that went nowhere, although "I Want a Guy" and "Let Me Go the Right Way" are catchy enough. B+(**) [R]

The Supremes: Where Did Our Love Go (1964, Motown): The group's first three number one hits -- "Where Did Our Love Go," "Baby Love," "Come See About Me" -- the filler rolled up from three 1963 singles, and B-sides that would have been A-sides a year before. B+(***) [R]

Three Dog Night: "One" (1968, Dunhill): Originally a vocal trio, quickly expanded to a seven-member group, had a knack for picking up others' songs and turning them out as hits -- they had 17 top-20 singles 1969-74, starting with Harry Nilsson's "One" here -- was big enough the label added it to the cover of what had previously been their eponymous debut; closes covering an old song recently possessed by Otis Redding -- something their fans may not have realized, but history cannot judge so kindly. B- [R]

Three Dog Night: Suitable for Framing (1969, Dunhill): Three hit singles: "Easy to Be Hard" (from Hair), "Eli's Comin'" (Laura Nyro), and "Celebrate" (with its "dance to the music" refrain, shades of Sly & the Family Stone); you can imagine them as the Bee Gees backed by Blood, Sweat & Tears, but they make both ends seem like hard work, probably because they're not as good as either. C+ [R]

Three Dog Night: It Ain't Easy (1970, Dunhill): Good news here is that they seem more comfortable in their skin -- this sounds less like a minstrel act; two hit singles, the memorable one Randy Newman's "Mama Told Me (Not to Come)" -- still, you know which version has stood the test of time. B- [R]

Three Dog Night: Naturally (1970, Dunhill): Three hit singles here, with the harsh "Liar" least appealing, "One Man Band" catchy enough, and Hoyt Axton's "Joy to the World" one of the few songs they're remembered for. B [R]

Three Dog Night: Harmony (1971, Dunhill): Two more top-ten hits -- Hoyt Axton's "Never Been to Spain" (but, big fucking deal, "I've been to Oklahoma") and Paul Williams' "An Old Fashioned Love Song" -- and a near-miss (an upbeat party anthem called "The Family of Man"); then there's the filler, rarely this forgettable because in the past it's so often been objectionable. B [R]

Three Dog Night: Seven Separate Fools (1972, Dunhill): One last number one single, "Black and White," which is too simple to be insipid, followed by Stephen Foster channeled through Randy Newman, which is too dull to use the phrase "sun shines bright"; the singers always struck me as too strained to be called slick, but as the albums become more eclectic, they lose what little substance they once had. C+ [R]

The Turtles: It Ain't Me Babe (1965, White Whale): With four songs from Bob Dylan (including their title hit) and two from P.F. Sloan, a near clone of the folk-rock synthesis of the Byrds, but with a straight-up energy that suggests they'd never found country-rock, and so little humor you can't imagine them turning into Phosphorescent Leech & Eddie either; still, for me their title hit is the archetype, but their "Like a Rolling Stone" is second-rate. B+(*) [R]

The Turtles: You Baby/Let Me Be (1966, White Whale): The album named for two P.F. Sloan-penned singles that peaked at 20 and 29 respectively, they're looking for a niche, trying on garage rock and pop harmony, whoops and hollers, even humor and satire -- most successfully in a Bob Lind lampoon that notes "all they ever smoke is tobacco in suburbia." B [R]

The Turtles: Happy Together (1967, White Whale): The group's only number one single earns its crescendo with its frail but catchy intro, then their second biggest single, "She'd Rather Be With Me," leads with the hook before it gets crazed -- you could imagine them rounding the album out with pop confections and psychedelic whirls (almost a fad in 1967) but all they came up with was the year's most preposterous crap. C- [R]

The Turtles: The Turtles Present the Battle of the Bands (1968, White Whale): Having never figured out what they want to be, here they pretend to be everything and are at least happier for that -- even got two top-ten singles not that they're memorable; in fact, none of the music is as good as the band names: e.g., Quad City Ramblers, The Fabulous Dawgs, The Atomic Enchilada, Chief Kamanawanalea and His Royal Macadamia Nuts, Fats Mallard the the Bluegrass Fireball. B- [R]

The Turtles: Turtle Soup (1969, White Whale): Produced by Ray Davies, fresh from The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society, all tracks by the band, a listenable cycle that doesn't put much more than their harmonies on display. B [R]

Little Stevie Wonder: The Jazz Soul of Little Stevie (1962, Tamla): First album, something like 12 years old, no vocals, the little guy credited with percussion, keyboard, and harmonica, plus a share of two songs; really just an instrumental funk album by Henry Crosby and Clarence Paul, including a non-hit "Fingertips" and some starry-eyed dreck. B [R]

Little Stevie Wonder: Tribute to Uncle Ray (1962, Tamla): Continues Motown's habit of throwing a tribute out there when they want effortless product, and better Ray Charles than Nat Cole; Stevie sings this time, a little warbly and sometimes almost a send-up, but his enthusiasm is infectious; could have used better songs, and had they been willing to spring for more than five from "Uncle Ray" they would have had them. B [R]

Little Stevie Wonder: The 12 Year Old Genius: Recorded Live (1963, Tamla): Starts with the full 6:40 "Fingertips" that was edited down for his first hit single, follows it up with "Soul Bongo" and "La La La La La," and improves on two of the Ray Charles songs, but stops at 7 cuts, 23:36. B+(**) [R]

Stevie Wonder: With a Song in My Heart (1963, Tamla): Think of this as his bar mitzvah album: the "Little" is gone from his name if uncertainly from his cracking voice, and the songs are some adult's idea of adult even if they are overly smiley -- "Smile," "Make Someone Happy," "Dream," "Put on a Happy Face," "Get Happy," "Give Your Heart a Chance," "With a Song in My Heart," "Without a Song" -- complete with treacly strings, enough to make your teeth hurt. C- [R]

Stevie Wonder: Stevie at the Beach (1964, Tamla): If everyone's going surfin' now, why not the blind teenaged genius from snowy Detroit? The first side goes with the absurdity, with "Sad Boy" and various keyb-harmonica instrumentals; the backside tries to recover with a dance number ("Beachstomp"), a pumped up "Beyond the Sea," and some party anthems -- "Hey Harmonica Man" single-worthy. B- [R]

Stevie Wonder: Greatest Hits Vol. 2 (1968-71 [1971], Motown): Like its predecessor, and unlike every subsequent compilation, this compresses a series of iffy albums -- For Once in My Life, My Cherie Amour, Signed, Sealed and Delivered, Where I'm Coming From -- into a coherent time slice, with a handful of transcendent songs and just enough iffy to remind you that growing up is hard even for geniuses. A- [R]

Legend: B+ records are divided into three levels, where more * is better. [R] indicates record was reviewed using a stream from Rhapsody ([X] is some other identified stream source; otherwise assume a CD). The biggest caveat there is that the packaging and documentation hasn't been inspected or considered, and documentation is especially important for reissues. But also my exposure to streamed records is briefer and more limited, so I'm more prone to snap judgments -- although that's always a risk.

For this column and the previous 113, see the archive. Total records reviewed: 4035 (3591 + 444).

Additional Consumer News

Other entries in Universal's 20th Century Masters: The Millennium Collection that I previously reviewed/graded:

  • The Best of ABC (1982-87 [2000], Mercury) B-
  • The Best of Eric B. and Rakim (1987-92 [2001], Hip-O) A-
  • The Best of James Brown (1958-72 [1999], Polydor) A
  • The Best of James Brown Volume 2: The '70s (1970-76 [2002], Polydor) A
  • The Best of Jerry Butler (1968-71 [2000], Polygram) A-
  • Classic Patsy Cline (1961-63 [1999], MCA) B
  • The Best of Bing Crosby (1944-57 [1999], MCA) A-
  • The Best of Marianne Faithfull (1979-95 [2003], Island) B+
  • The Best of Wayne Fontana & the Mindbenders (1965-68 [2004], Mercury) B-
  • The Best of Connie Francis (1957-62 [1999], Polydor) A-
  • The Best of Gap Band (1979-83 [2000], Polygram) A-
  • The Best of Lesley Gore (1963-67 [2000], Mercury) B+(**)
  • The Best of Bill Haley & His Comets (1954-56 [1999], MCA) A-
  • The Best of George Jones (1955-62 [2000], Mercury) A
  • The Best of George Jones Volume 2: The '90s (1991-98 [2002], MCA Nashville) B+
  • The Best of Grace Jones (1977-82 [2003], Island) A-
  • The Best of Kiss (1974-79 [2003], Mercury/Chronicles) B-
  • The Best of Brenda Lee (1959-63 [1999], MCA) A-
  • The Best of the Mamas and the Papas (1966-69 [1999], MCA) B
  • The Best of the Marvelettes (1961-67 [2000], Motown) A
  • The Best of Ohio Players (1974-77 [2000], Polygram) A
  • The Best of Tito Puente (1991-99 [2005], Hip-O) B+
  • The Best of Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs (1965-68 [2003], Mercury/Chronicles) B+
  • The Best of Billy Stewart (1962-68 [2000], Chess/MCA) B+
  • The Best of Donna Summer (1975-83 [2003], Mercury) A-
  • The Best of the Temptations: Volume 1: The '60s (1964-69 [1999], Motown) A
  • The Best of the Troggs (1966-68 [2004], Mercury) B
  • The Best of Conway Twitty (1958-90 [1999], MCA) B+
  • The Best of Mary Wells (1961-64 [1999], Motown) A
  • The Best of Don Williams (1975-82 [2000], MCA) A-

Previously graded entries in Universal's The Definitive Collection series (all with that title, some add dates):

  • Bill Anderson (1960-78 [2006], MCA Nashville) B
  • Chuck Berry (1955-72 [2006], Geffen/Chess/Chronicles) A+
  • Patsy Cline (1956-63 [2004], MCA Nashville) A
  • Bo Diddley (1955-66 [2007], Geffen/Chess) A
  • Steve Earle: 1983-1997 (1982-97 [2006], Hip-O) A-
  • Tom T. Hall (1968-84 [2006], Hip-O) A-
  • Buddy Holly (1956-58 [2006], Geffen/Decca/Chronicles) A
  • Howlin' Wolf (1951-64 [2007], Geffen/Chess) A+
  • The Isley Brothers (1959-2005 [2007], Hip-O) B
  • Etta James (1954-2004 [2006], Geffen/Chronicles) A
  • Brenda Lee (1957-79 [2006], MCA Nashville/Chronicles) B+(***)
  • Jerry Lee Lewis (1957-81 [2006], Hip-O/Chronicles) A-
  • Patty Loveless (1985-96 [2005], MCA Nashville/Chronicles) B+
  • Loretta Lynn (1964-78 [2005], MCA Nashville/Chronicles) A-
  • Martha & the Vandellas (1963-71 [2008], Motown) A-
  • Kathy Mattea (1983-97 [2006], Mercury/Chronicles) B+(**)
  • Delbert McClinton (1961-97 [2006], Hip-O) B
  • Ernest Tubb (1941-66 [2006], MCA Nashville/Chronicles) A
  • Conway Twitty/Loretta Lynn (1970-88 [2005], MCA Nashville/Chronicles) A-
  • Muddy Waters (1948-76 [2006], Geffen/Chess/Chronicles) A
  • Don Williams (1973-86 [2004], MCA Nashville/Chronicles) A-

Previously graded entries in Universal's Gold series:

  • Cream (1966-68 [2005], Polydor/Chronicles) B+(***)
  • The Gap Band (1979-92 [2005], Hip-O/Mercury) B+(**)
  • Smokey Robinson & the Miracles (1959-2005 [2006], Motown/Chronicles) B+(***)
  • Frankie Ruiz (1990-98 [2006], Hip-O) B+(*)
  • Conway Twitty (1958-91 [2006], MCA Nashville) A-
  • '70s Soul: Gold (1970-79 [2006], Hip-O) A-
  • British Invasion: Gold (1961-67 [2006], Hip-O) B+(**)

Also in the 20th Century Masters -- The Millennium Collection series:

  • The Best of 10cc ([])
  • The Best of 38 Special ([2000])
  • The Best of Abba ([2013])
  • The Best of Aerosmith ([2010])
  • The Best of Alien Ant Farm ([2008])
  • The Best of Peter Allen ([2001])
  • The Best of Gregg Allman ([2002])
  • The Best of the Allman Brothers Band ([2000])
  • The Best of the Allman Brothers Band Live ([2007])
  • The Best of Bill Anderson ([2006])
  • The Best of Animation ([2006])
  • The Best of Jann Arden ([2001])
  • The Best of Joan Armatrading ([2006])
  • The Best of Asia ([2007])
  • The Best of Asleep at the Wheel ([2001])
  • The Best of Aswad ([2004])
  • The Best of Atlanta Rhythm Section ([2000])
  • The Best of Atlantic Starr ([2001])
  • The Best of Roy Ayers ([2006])
  • The Best of Burt Bacharach ([1999])
  • The Best of Bachman-Turner Overdrive ([2000])
  • The Best of Buju Banton ([2006])
  • The Best of Gato Barbieri ([2004])
  • The Best of Bar-Kays ([2005])
  • The Best of Bell Biv Devoe ([2007])
  • The Best of the Bells ([2006])
  • The Best of David Benoit ([2005])
  • The Best of Berlin ([2006])
  • The Best of Leonard Bernstein ([2004])
  • The Best of Chuck Berry ([1999])
  • The Best of Big Bad Voodoo Daddy ([2005])
  • The Best of Big Country ([2001])
  • The Best of Elvin Bishop ([2002])
  • The Best of Stephen Bishop ([2002])
  • The Best of Black Uhuru ([2007])
  • The Best of Blackstreet ([2004])
  • The Best of Kurtis Blow ([2003], Mercury)
  • The Best of Blue Peter ([2007])
  • The Best of the Boomtown Rats ([2005])
  • The Best of Boston Pops ([2004])
  • The Best of Liona Boyd ([])
  • The Best of Boyz II Men ([2003])
  • The Best of Georges Brassens ([2006])
  • The Best of Brothers Johnson ([2013])
  • The Best of Bobby Brown ([2005])
  • The Best of Roy Buchanan ([2002])
  • The Best of Jimmy Buffett ([2003])
  • The Best of Burning Spear ([2002])
  • The Best of Tracy Byrd ([2001])
  • The Best of J.J. Cale ([2006])
  • The Best of the Call ([2000])
  • The Best of Cameo ([2001])
  • The Best of Canadian Brass ([2005])
  • The Best of Captain & Tennille ([2005])
  • The Best of Larry Carlton ([2006])
  • The Best of José Carerras ([2005])
  • The Best of the Carter Family ([2005])
  • The Best of Chalk Circle ([2006])
  • The Best of Mark Chesnutt ([2001])
  • The Best of Cinderella ([2000])
  • The Best of Eric Clapton ([2004])
  • The Best of Terri Clark ([2006])
  • The Best of Jimmy Cliff ([2004])
  • The Best of Patsy Cline Vol. 2 ([2007])
  • The Best of Joe Cocker ([2000])
  • The Best of Con Funk Shun ([2002])
  • The Best of Rita Coolidge ([2000])
  • The Best of Bill Cosby ([2001])
  • The Best of the Cowsills ([2001])
  • The Best of the Cranberries ([2005])
  • The Best of Robert Cray ([2002])
  • The Best of Cream ([2000])
  • The Best of Creedence Clearwater Revisited ([2006])
  • The Best of Billy Ray Cyrus ([2003])
  • The Best of Rodney Dangerfield ([2005])
  • The Best of Mac Davis ([2006])
  • The Best of Dazz Band ([2001])
  • The Best of Chris De Burgh ([2004])
  • The Best of Deep Purple ([2002])
  • The Best of Del Amitri ([2003])
  • The Best of the Dells ([2000])
  • The Best of Sandy Denny ([2002])
  • The Best of Dexy's Midnight Runners ([2009])
  • The Best of Neil Diamond ([1999])
  • The Best of Manu Dibango ([2007])
  • The Best of Bo Diddley ([2000])
  • The Best of the Dixie Dregs ([2002])
  • The Best of the Dixie Hummingbirds ([2002])
  • The Best of Oscar d'León ([2006])
  • The Best of Will Downing ([2006])
  • The Best of the Dramatics ([2005])
  • The Best of Dave Dudley ([2002])
  • The Best of Diane Dufresne ([2006])
  • The Best of Steve Earle ([2003])
  • The Best of El Chicano ([2004])
  • The Best of Yvonne Elliman ([2004])
  • The Best of Rik Emmett ([2002])
  • The Best of the Everly Brothers ([2003])
  • The Best of Extreme ([2002])
  • The Best of Fairport Convention ([2002])
  • The Best of Donna Fargo ([2002])
  • The Best of Arthur Fiedler ([2005])
  • The Best of Ella Fitzgerald ([2003])
  • The Best of Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong ([2007])
  • The Best of the Five Blind Boys of Mississippi ([2002])
  • The Best of Fixx ([2000])
  • The Best of Flatt & Scruggs ([2001])
  • The Best of the Flying Burrito Brothers ([2001])
  • The Best of John Fogerty ([2007])
  • The Best of Peter Frampton ([2007])
  • The Best of Aretha Franklin Gospel ([2007])
  • The Best of Free ([2002])
  • The Best of Glenn Frey ([2000])
  • The Best of the Funk Brothers ([2004])
  • The Best of Judy Garland ([1999])
  • The Best of Gloria Gaynor ([2000])
  • The Best of Stan Getz ([2007])
  • The Best of Andy Gibb ([2001])
  • The Best of Astrud Gilberto ([2005])
  • The Best of Johnny Gill ([2003])
  • The Best of Vince Gill ([2003])
  • The Best of Gin Blossoms ([2013])
  • The Best of Grass Roots ([2013])
  • The Best of Al Green ([2006])
  • The Best of Lee Greenwood ([2002])
  • The Best of Nancy Griffith ([2001])
  • The Best of Dave Grusin ([2006])
  • The Best of Buddy Guy ([2001])
  • The Best of Merle Haggard ([2000])
  • The Best of Keith Hampshire ([2005])
  • The Best of Hanson ([2006])
  • The Best of Tim Hardin ([2002])
  • The Best of Richie Havens ([2000])
  • The Best of Head East ([2001])
  • The Best of the Reverend Horton Heat ([2006])
  • The Best of Heavy D & the Boyz ([2002])
  • The Best of Jimi Hendrix ([2005])
  • The Best of John Hiatt ([2003], A&M)
  • The Best of Dru Hill ([2007])
  • The Best of Billie Holiday ([2002])
  • The Best of Jennifer Holliday ([2000])
  • The Best of Dave Hollister ([2008])
  • The Best of Brenda Holloway ([2003])
  • The Best of Buddy Holly ([1999])
  • The Best of Rupert Holmes ([2006])
  • The Best of John Lee Hooker ([1999])
  • The Best of Themla Houston ([2007])
  • The Best of Howlin' Wolf ([2003])
  • The Best of Humble Pie ([2000])
  • The Best of Engelbert Humperdinck ([2005])
  • The Best of Incognito ([2007])
  • The Best of the Ink Spots ([1999])
  • The Best of Donnie Iris ([2001])
  • The Best of the Irish Rovers ([2004])
  • The Best of Gregory Isaacs ([2004])
  • The Best of Isley Brothers ([2001])
  • The Best of Burl Ives {[2001])
  • The Best of Chuck Jackson ([2004])
  • The Best of Joe Jackson ([2001])
  • The Best of Jackson 5 ([2013])
  • The Best of Jackyl ([2003])
  • The Best of the Jam ([2003])
  • The Best of Etta James ([1999])
  • The Best of Rick James ([2000], Uptown)
  • The Best of Rick James & Friends Collection 2 ([2005])
  • The Best of James Gang ([2004])
  • The Best of Waylon Jennings ([2000])
  • The Best of the Jets ([2001])
  • The Best of Antonio Carlos Jobim ([2005])
  • The Best of Jodeci ([2006])
  • The Best of Al Jolson ([2001])
  • The Best of Quincy Jones ([2001])
  • The Best of Tom Jones Collection 2 ([2006])
  • The Best of Louis Jordan ([1999])
  • The Best of K-Ci & Jojo ([2007])
  • The Best of Salif Keita ([2007])
  • The Best of Toby Keith ([2003])
  • The Best of Sammy Kershaw ([2003])
  • The Best of Angelique Kidjo ([2005])
  • The Best of B.B. King ([1999])
  • The Best of Kingdom Come ([2003])
  • The Best of Kiss Volume 2 ([2004])
  • The Best of Kiss Volume 3 ([2006])
  • The Best of Klymaxx ([2003])
  • The Best of Kool & the Gang ([2000])
  • The Best of L.A. Guns ([2005])
  • The Best of Félix Leclerc ([2006])
  • The Best of Level 42 ([2003])
  • The Best of Barrington Levy ([2006])
  • The Best of Jerry Lee Lewis ([1999])
  • The Best of Ramsey Lewis ([2002])
  • The Best of Liberace ([2005])
  • The Best of Guy Lombardo ([2005])
  • The Best of Lone Justice ([2003])
  • The Best of Patty Loveless ([2000])
  • The Best of L.T.D. ([2000])
  • The Best of Loretta Lynn ([1999])
  • The Best of Loretta Lynn Vol. 2 ([2001])
  • The Best of Lynyrd Skynyrd ([1999])
  • The Best of Lynyrd Skynyrd Live ([2007])
  • The Best of Madness ([2005])
  • The Best of Yngwie Malmsteen ([2005])
  • The Best of Barbara Mandrell ([2000])
  • The Best of Chuck Mangione ([2002])
  • The Best of Mantovani & His Orchestra ([2006])
  • The Best of Teena Marie ([2001])
  • The Best of Bob Marley & the Wailers ([2013])
  • The Best of Mary Jane Girls ([2001])
  • The Best of Hugh Masekela ([2006])
  • The Best of Material Issue ([2006])
  • The Best of Kathy Mattea ([2002])
  • The Best of the Mavericks ([2001])
  • The Best of John Mayall ([2006])
  • The Best of Reba McEntire ([2007])
  • The Best of Maureen McGovern ([2005])
  • The Best of Maria McKee ([2003])
  • The Best of Brian McKnight ([2006])
  • The Best of Carmen McRae ([2004])
  • The Best of Sue Medley ([2006])
  • The Best of John Mellencamp ([2010])
  • The Best of Sergio Mendes & Brasil '66 ([2007])
  • The Best of Don Messer ([2006])
  • The Best of Mighty Clouds of Joy ([2002])
  • The Best of the Mighty Mighty Bosstones ([2005])
  • The Best of Stephanie Mills ([2000])
  • The Best of the Mills Brothers ([2013])
  • The Best of Charles Mingus ([2007])
  • The Best of Liza Minnelli ([2001])
  • The Best of Mint Condition ([2006])
  • The Best of Bill Monroe ([1999])
  • The Best of Wes Montgomery ([2006])
  • The Best of Monster Magnet ([2007])
  • The Best of Moody Blues ([2000])
  • The Best of the Moonglows ([2002])
  • The Best of Chante Moore ([2004])
  • The Best of Mötley Crüe ([2003])
  • The Best of Nana Mouskouri ([2006])
  • The Best of Rick Nelson ([2003])
  • The Best of Nelson ([2004])
  • The Best of Aaron Neville ([2002])
  • The Best of the Neville Brothers ([2004])
  • The Best of New Edition ([2006])
  • The Best of New York Dolls ([2003])
  • The Best of Olivia Newton-John ([2002])
  • The Best of Night Ranger ([2013])
  • The Best of the Oak Ridge Boys ([2000])
  • The Best of Phil Ochs ([2002])
  • The Best of Oingo Boingo ([2002])
  • The Best of One Way ([2005])
  • The Best of Jeffrey Osborne ([2002])
  • The Best of Joan Osborne ([2007])
  • The Best of Donny Osmond ([2002])
  • The Best of Donny & Marie Osmond ([2002])
  • The Best of the Osmonds ([2002])
  • The Best of the Ozark Mountain Daredevils ([2002])
  • The Best of Pablo Cruise ([2001])
  • The Best of Robert Palmer ([1999])
  • The Best of Charlie Parker ([2004])
  • The Best of Parliament ([2000])
  • The Best of Les Paul ([2001])
  • The Best of the Payolas ([2002])
  • The Best of Peaches & Herb ([2002])
  • The Best of Cece Peniston ([2001])
  • The Best of Lee Scratch Perry ([2004])
  • The Best of Shawn Phillips ([2006])
  • The Best of Edith Piaf ([2007])
  • The Best of Webb Pierce ([2001])
  • The Best of Poco ([2000])
  • The Best of the Pointer Sisters ([2004])
  • The Best of Iggy Pop ([2006])
  • The Best of Billy Preston ([2002])
  • The Best of Kelly Price ([2009])
  • The Best of Public Enemy ([2001])
  • The Best of Quarterflash ([2006])
  • The Best of Queen Latifah ([2005])
  • The Best of Raffi ([2003])
  • The Best of Rainbow ([2000])
  • The Best of Ray, Goodman & Brown ([2002])
  • The Best of Ready for the World ([2002])
  • The Best of Lionel Richie ([2003])
  • The Best of the Righteous Brothers ([2006])
  • The Best of Robbie Robertson ([2006])
  • The Best of Johnny Rodriguez ([2006])
  • The Best of Kenny Rogers ([2004])
  • The Best of Rossington Collins Band ([2003])
  • The Best of Jimmy Ruffin ([2001])
  • The Best of the Runaways ([2005])
  • The Best of Rusted Root ([2005])
  • The Best of Salt-N-Pepa ([2009])
  • The Best of Savoy Brown ([2002])
  • The Best of Scorpions ([2001])
  • The Best of Marvin Sease ([2006])
  • The Best of Secret Garden ([2004])
  • The Best of Andres Segovia ([2007])
  • The Best of Semisonic ([2003])
  • The Best of Charlie Sexton ([2005])
  • The Best of Shai ([2001])
  • The Best of Nina Simone ([2007])
  • The Best of Siouxsie and the Banshees ([2006])
  • The Best of Sisqó ([])
  • The Best of Soft Cell ([2006])
  • The Best of Sir Georg Solti ([2005])
  • The Best of Soraya ([2005])
  • The Best of Sounds of Blackness ([2007])
  • The Best of Spanky & Our Gang ([2005])
  • The Best of Dusty Springfield ([1999])
  • The Best of Spyro Gyra ([2007])
  • The Best of Squeeze ([2004])
  • The Best of the Stanley Brothers ([2002])
  • The Best of Cat Stevens ([2007])
  • The Best of Rod Stewart ([1999])
  • The Best of Steel Pulse ([2004])
  • The Best of Steely Dan ([2007])
  • The Best of Steppenwolf ([1999])
  • The Best of Ray Stevens ([2004])
  • The Best of George Strait ([2002])
  • The Best of Strawbs ([2003])
  • The Best of Marty Stuart ([2002])
  • The Best of the Style Council ([2003])
  • The Best of Styx ([2002])
  • The Best of Sublime ([2013])
  • The Best of Donna Summer Volume 2 ([2007])
  • The Best of Swing Out Sister ([2001])
  • The Best of Switch ([2013])
  • The Best of Livingston Taylor ([2005])
  • The Best of Tears for Fears ([2000])
  • The Best of Tesla ([2001])
  • The Best of Third World ([2004])
  • The Best of Lily Tomlin ([2003])
  • The Best of Tony Toni Toné ([2001])
  • The Best of Toots & the Maytals ([2001])
  • The Best of Mel Tormé ([2005])
  • The Best of Peter Tosh ([2004])
  • The Best of Traffic ([2003])
  • The Best of Pat Travers ([2003])
  • The Best of Domenic Troiano ([2003])
  • The Best of Ernest Tubb ([2000])
  • The Best of the Tubes ([2000])
  • The Best of Tanya Tucker ([2000])
  • The Best of Conway Twitty Volume 2 ([2001])
  • The Best of Conway Twitty & Loretta Lynn ([2000])
  • The Best of Unwritten Law ([2003])
  • The Best of Uriah Heep ([2011])
  • The Best of Gino Vannelli ([2002])
  • The Best of Sarah Vaughan ([2004])
  • The Best of Village People ([2001])
  • The Best of Vlady ([2001])
  • The Best of the Waitresses ([2003])
  • The Best of Jerry Jeff Walker ([2002])
  • The Best of Joe Walsh ([2000])
  • The Best of Wang Chung ([2002])
  • The Best of Grover Washington Jr. ([2000])
  • The Best of Crystal Waters ([2001])
  • The Best of Muddy Waters ([1999])
  • The Best of Jody Watley ([2000])
  • The Best of Max Webster ([2006])
  • The Best of Kitty Wells ([2002])
  • The Best of Kim Weston ([2003])
  • The Best of Wet Willie ([2003])
  • The Best of Barry White ([2003])
  • The Best of Whitesnake ([2000])
  • The Best of the Who ([1999])
  • The Best of Don Williams Volume 2 ([2011])
  • The Best of Hank Williams Volume 2 ([2006])
  • The Best of Hank Williams, Jr. ([2004])
  • The Best of John Williams & the Boston Pops ([2006])
  • The Best of Roger Williams ([2004])
  • The Best of Vanessa Williams ([2003])
  • The Best of Bob Wills ([2000])
  • The Best of Mark Wills ([2004])
  • The Best of Steve Winwood ([1999])
  • The Best of Chely Wright ([2003])
  • The Best of the Yellowjackets ([2006])
  • The Best of Faron Young ([2001])
  • The Best of Rob Zombie ([2007])
  • The Best of Buckwheat Zydeco ([2006])
  • The Best of 50's Rock n' Roll ([2002])
  • The Best of 50's Rock n' Roll Vol. 2 ([2006])
  • The Best of 60's Rock ([2006])
  • The Best of 60's Rock n' Roll ([2006])
  • The Best of 70's Rock ([2006])
  • The Best of 80's New Wave ([2006])
  • The Best of 80's Pop ([2007])
  • The Best of 80's R&B ([2007])
  • The Best of 80's Rock ([2006])
  • The Best of 90's Dance ([2006])
  • The Best of 90's R&B ([2006])
  • The Best of 90's Rock ([2006])
  • The Best of Africa ([2005])
  • The Best of Bluegrass ([2002])
  • The Best of Blues Volume 2 ([2006])
  • The Best of Blues Classics ([2003])
  • The Best of Blues Guitar ([2003])
  • The Best of Blues Rock Songbook ([2003])
  • The Best of the Brill Building ([2002])
  • The Best of Brit Pop ([2002])
  • The Best of Broadway ([2006])
  • The Best of Canada ([2009])
  • The Best of Classic Country Vol. 3 ([2006])
  • The Best of Classic Romance ([])
  • The Best of Country Gospel ([2006])
  • The Best of Disco ([2002])
  • The Best of Disco Vol. 2 ([2006])
  • The Best of Doo Wop ([2002])
  • The Best of the Eighties ([2000])
  • The Best of Folk ([2002])
  • The Best of Funk ([2003])
  • The Best of Funk Vol. 2 ([2006])
  • The Best of Gospel ([2006])
  • The Best of Gospel Vol. 2 ([2006])
  • The Best of Hard Rock Vol. 2 ([2008])
  • The Best of Jazz Vol. 2 ([2006])
  • The Best of Las Vegas ([2002])
  • The Best of Love ([2002])
  • The Best of Love Vol. 2 ([2007])
  • The Best of Love R&B Classics ([2007])
  • The Best of Men of Country ([2003])
  • The Best of Motown 1970s Volume 1 ([2001])
  • The Best of Motown 1970s Volume 2 ([2001])
  • The Best of Motown 1980s Volume 1 ([2002])
  • The Best of Motown 1980s Volume 2 ([2002])
  • The Best of Musicans ([2006])
  • The Best of Rap & Hip Hop ([2003])
  • The Best of Rap & Hip Hop Vol. 2 ([2006])
  • The Best of Ready Records ([2006])
  • The Best of Ready Records Volume 2 ([2006])
  • The Best of Reggae ([2003])
  • The Best of Reggae Vol. 2 ([2006])
  • The Best of Rock 'n' Roll ([2006])
  • The Best of Salsa ([2007])
  • The Best of Salsa Vol. 2 ([2007])
  • The Best of the Sixties ([2000])
  • The Best of the Seventies ([2000])
  • The Best of Ska ([2003])
  • The Best of Ska Vol. 2 ([2006])
  • The Best of Soul Vol. 2 ([2006])
  • The Best of Women of Country ([2006])
  • All Time Favourites Vol. 2 ([2006])
  • All Time Favourites Vol. 3 ([2007])
  • Motown 1960s, Vol. 1 ([2001])
  • Motown 1960s, Vol. 2 ([2001])
  • Season's Greetings ([2001])
  • Songs of Lennon & McCartney ([2002])

Decked out in red and green, there's also a voluminous subset called The Christmas Collection, broken out here:

  • 38 Special ([2008])
  • Louis Armstrong ([2003])
  • Boyz II Men ([2003])
  • James Brown ([2003])
  • Bing Crosby ([2003])
  • Four Tops ([2005])
  • Amy Grant ([2003])
  • Hanson ([2004])
  • Engelbert Humperdinck ([2005])
  • Burl Ives ([2003])
  • B.B. King ([2003])
  • Patti Labelle ([2004])
  • Brenda Lee ([2003])
  • Loretta Lynn ([2005])
  • Michael McDonald ([2004])
  • Reba ([2003])
  • Willie Nelson ([2006])
  • Aaron Neville ([2003])
  • New Edition ([2004])
  • Olivia Newton-John ([2003])
  • Oak Ridge Boys ([2003])
  • The Platters ([2004])
  • Smokey Robinson & the Miracles ([2003])
  • The Statler Brothers ([2004])
  • Ringo Starr ([2003])
  • George Strait ([2003])
  • Donna Summer ([2005])
  • The Supremes ([2003])
  • The Temptations ([2003])
  • Vanessa Williams ([2003])
  • Vanessa Williams 2 ([2006])
  • Stevie Wonder ([2004])
  • Americana Christmas ([2007])
  • Blues ([2003])
  • Christmas Classics on Piano ([2006])
  • Christmas Jazz Volume 1 ([2007])
  • Christmas Jazz Volume 2 ([2007])
  • Motown Christmas Volume 1 ([2003])
  • Motown Christmas Volume 2 ([2005])
  • Santa's Greatest Hits ([2005])
  • Smooth & Soulful ([2006])
  • Smooth Jazz Christmas ([2005])

Other entries in The Definitive Collection series:

  • Louis Armstrong ([2006])
  • Asia ([2006])
  • Bachman-Turner Overdrive ([2008])
  • Bobby "Blue" Bland ([2007])
  • Bobby Brown ([2006])
  • Roy Buchanan ([2006])
  • J.J. Cale ([2007])
  • Cameo ([2006])
  • Johnny Cash ([2008])
  • Terri Clark ([2008])
  • The Commodores ([2009])
  • Chick Corea and Return to Forever ([2008])
  • Robert Cray ([2007])
  • Bing Crosby ([2006])
  • Billy Ray Cyrus ([2004])
  • Sammy Davis, Jr. ([2006])
  • Days of the New ([2008])
  • DeBarge ([2008])
  • The Flying Burrito Brothers ([2007])
  • Four Tops ([2008])
  • Judy Garland ([2006])
  • George Gershwin ([2006])
  • Lee Greenwood ([2006])
  • Merle Haggard ([2007])
  • Billie Holiday ([2008])
  • Dave Hollister ([2006])
  • John Lee Hooker ([2006])
  • Humble Pie ([2006])
  • Michael Jackson ([2009])
  • Rick James ([2006])
  • George Jones: 1955-1962 ([2004])
  • Sammy Kershaw ([2004])
  • Gladys Knight & the Pips ([2008])
  • Patti LaBelle ([2006])
  • Level 42 ([2006])
  • Loretta Lynn ([2005])
  • Shelby Lynne ([2006])
  • The Marvelettes ([2008])
  • Dave Mason ([2006])
  • The Mavericks ([2004])
  • Johnny Mercer ([2007])
  • Allison Moorer ([2005])
  • The Oak Ridge Boys ([2006])
  • Donny Osmond ([2009])
  • The Righteous Brothers ([2009])
  • Smokey Robinson & the Miracles ([2008])
  • Rogers & Hart ([2007])
  • Diana Ross ([2006])
  • Diana Ross & the Supremes ([2008])
  • Nina Simone ([2006])
  • Jimmy Smith ([2008])
  • The Statler Brothers ([2005])
  • Steely Dan ([2006])
  • Rod Stewart: 1969-1978 ([2009])
  • The Temptations ([2008])
  • Thin Lizzy ([2006])
  • Pete Townshend ([2007])
  • Tanya Tucker ([2006])
  • Jr. Walker & the All Stars ([2008])
  • Mary Wells ([2008])
  • Mark Wills ([2007])
  • Whitesnake ([2006])
  • Chely Wright ([2007])

Other entries in The Definitive Collection series (I'm also noting cases where Wikipedia identifies that the compilation is a reissue -- note that I haven't verified this):

  • ABC ([2006]): re Look of Love: The Very Best of ABC
  • Aerosmith ([2005]): re Young Lust: The Aerosmith Anthology
  • The Allman Brothers Band ([2005])
  • Joan Armatrading ([2005])
  • Louis Armstrong ([2006])
  • Asia ([2005])
  • Hugues Aufray ([2006])
  • Roy Ayers ([2005])
  • Eric B. & Rakim ([2005])
  • Burt Bacharach & Friends ([2006])
  • Bachman-Turner Overdrive ([2005])
  • The Beautiful South ([2006])
  • Chuck Berry ([2005]): re The Anthology [2000] A-
  • Jane Birkin ([2007])
  • Georges Brassens ([2007])
  • Bobby Brown ([2005])
  • James Brown ([2007])
  • Burning Spear ([2005]): 28 cuts vs. 34 for Chant Down Babylon [1996] A-
  • J.J. Cale ([2007])
  • John Cale ([2007]): re The Island Years [1996] A-
  • Carpenters ([2006]): re Gold [2004]
  • Cher ([2005]): doesn't use standard series cover but is 2CD, 32-cut
  • Cinderella ([2006])
  • Patsy Cline ([2005]): re The Ultimate Collection [2000]
  • Joe Cocker ([2006])
  • John Coltrane ([2006])
  • Commodores ([2005,2008]): Europe and US respectively
  • The Cranberries ([2008])
  • Bing Crosby ([2008]): two separate releases, one on Geffen (40 cuts), the other on Universal (50 cuts)
  • The Crusaders ([2007])
  • Roger Daltrey ([2006])
  • Chris de Burgh ([2007])
  • Paco de Lucia ([2005])
  • Michel Delpech ([2006])
  • Neil Diamond ([2005])
  • Bo Diddley ([2008])
  • Fairport Convention ([2008]): re Chronicles
  • Ella Fitzgerald ([2007])
  • Four Tops ([2005])
  • Peter Frampton ([2005])
  • Connie Francis ([2005])
  • Claude François ([2006])
  • Serge Gainsbourg ([2007])
  • France Gail ([2006])
  • Marvin Gaye ([2005]): re The Very Best of Marvin Gaye [2001] A
  • Stan Getz ([2008])
  • Astrud Gilberto ([2008])
  • Billie Holiday ([2005])
  • Buddy Holly ([2005]): re The Buddy Holly Collection [1993] A
  • John Lee Hooker ([2007])
  • Engelbert Humperdinck ([2005])
  • Joe Jackson ([2008]): re This Is It! The A&M Years 1979-1989
  • Michael Jackson ([2008])
  • The Jackson 5 ([2005])
  • The Jam ([2005]): re The Sound of the Jam
  • Etta James ([2007])
  • Rick James ([2005])
  • C. Jérôme ([2007])
  • Tom Jones ([2005])
  • Patrick Juvet ([2007])
  • B.B. King ([2006])
  • Kiss ([2005])
  • Gladys Knight & the Pips ([2005,2006]): European and US respectively, the latter including Knight sans Pips
  • Kool & the Gang ([2005])
  • Patti LaBelle ([2005])
  • Marie Laforêt ([2006])
  • Boby Lapointe ([2006])
  • Level 42 ([2005])
  • Jerry Lee Lewis ([2008])
  • Loretta Lynn ([2006])
  • Lynyrd Skynyrd ([2006]): re The Essential Lynyrd Skynyrd
  • The Mamas & the Papas ([2005])
  • Bob Marley: 1967-1972 ([2005])
  • Bob Marley & the Wailers ([2005]): non-standard cover
  • John Martyn ([2008])
  • The Mavericks ([2006])
  • Brian McKnight ([2007])
  • Stephanie Mills ([2006])
  • Yves Montand ([2007])
  • The Moody Blues ([2005])
  • Mouloudji ([2007])
  • Nana Mouskouri ([2006])
  • Georges Moustaki ([2006])
  • Aaron Neville ([2008])
  • The Neville Brothers ([2005])
  • New Edition ([2005])
  • Olivia Newton-John ([2005])
  • The Oak Ridge Boys ([2007])
  • The Ohio Players ([2008])
  • Robert Palmer ([2006])
  • Parliament ([2005])
  • Poco ([2006])
  • Martha Reeves & the Vandellas ([2006])
  • Lionel Richie ([2006])
  • The Righteous Brothers ([2006])
  • Lionel Richie/Commodores ([2006])
  • Rush ([2006])
  • Scorpions ([2006])
  • William Sheller ([2006])
  • Nina Simone ([2005,2007]): Europe and US respectively
  • Siouxsie and the Banshees ([2007])
  • Soraya ([2006])
  • Dusty Springfield ([2006,2008])
  • Squeeze ([2005])
  • The Statler Brothers ([2006])
  • Status Quo ([2005])
  • Steppenwolf ([2005])
  • Cat Stevens ([2005])
  • Rod Stewart ([2005])
  • The Style Council ([2006])
  • Styx ([2006]): re Come Sail Away: The Styx Anthology
  • Sublime ([2005])
  • Donna Summer ([2005])
  • Supertramp ([2005])
  • The Supremes ([2005])
  • Tears for Fears ([2006])
  • The Temptations ([2005])
  • Tesla ([2008])
  • Them ([2005])
  • Michèle Torr ([2006])
  • Pete Townshend ([2005])
  • Traffic ([2005])
  • Tri Yann ([2006])
  • Sarah Vaughan ([2007])
  • The Velvet Underground ([2005])
  • Dinah Washington ([2007])
  • Grover Washington, Jr. ([2006])
  • Muddy Waters ([2007]): re The Anthology
  • Barry White ([2008])
  • Whitesnake ([2006])
  • Don Williams ([2007]): re The Anthology [2000]
  • Hank Williams ([2005]): re The Ultimate Collection [2002] A+
  • '60s: Gold ([2006])
  • '60s Soul: Gold ([2006])
  • '70s: Gold ([2006])
  • '80s: Gold ([2006])
  • '80s British: Gold ([2007])
  • '80s Dance: Gold ([2006])
  • '80s Metal: Gold ([2007])
  • '80s Soul: Gold ([2006])
  • Blues: Gold ([2006])
  • Classic Country: Gold ([2005])
  • Classic Rock: Gold ([2005])
  • Funk: Gold ([2005])
  • Jazz Divas: Gold ([2007])
  • Hip Hop: Gold ([2006])
  • Latin: Gold ([2006])
  • Love Songs: Gold ([2006])
  • More Motown Classics: Gold ([2007])
  • Motown Classics: Gold ([2005]): re Motown: The Classic Years [2000] A+
  • New Jack Swing: Gold ([2008])
  • New Wave: Gold ([2007])
  • Old School Jams: Gold ([2007])
  • Power Ballads: Gold ([2005])
  • Reggae: Gold ([2005])
  • Soft Rock: Gold ([2007])
  • Southern Rock: Gold ([2005])
  • Summer of Love: Gold ([2007])

Copyright © 2013 Tom Hull.