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Various Artists

Barry Williams Presents: One-Hit Wonders of the '70s

(Time-Life; US: 6 Jun 2006; UK: 6 Jun 2006)

The actor who played Greg Brady probably isn’t most people’s first pick to curate a collection of 1970s one-hit wonders (regardless of his nostalgia-hued radio show on Sirius), but Barry Williams presumably rents his name out cheaper than does Susan Dey. At any rate, this disc passably surveys its topic with relatively few glaring errors of omission or commission, which is to say, I’d trade just about anything here for Henry Gross’ “Shannon”, and Terry Jacks’ “Seasons in the Sun” has seen such overexposure it ought to have melted into little pool of liquid vinyl by now, but for the most part Williams takes us on a smooth ride. Wild Cherry’s Sly-aping “Play That Funky Music” opens things on a weak note, but the highlights come fast: B.W. Stevenson’s “My Maria” escapes credit-card-commercial hell to reclaim its spirited call of desire, and Stories’ “Brother Louie” plays guess-who’s-coming-to-dinner lyrically while its irresistible wah-wah guitar does the cooking. Which probably means Dave Loggins supplies the syrup, but his yearning soft-rock chestnut “Please Come to Boston” transcends the more soporific AM strains of Dan Hill’s “Sometimes When We Touch”. All of which is to suggest that this mixed bag balances out its flaws (Mungo Jerry’s insufferable—and misogynist—“In the Summertime” deserves a special place in hell) with recovered gems. Given how played-out the theme is, a better idea might be the failed follow-up singles of these one-hit wonders (who isn’t curious about Edison Lighthouse’s post-“Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)” work?), but market limitations probably preclude such an endeavor.

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