My first CD experience with this series, which purports to release compilations of chart singles that rarely appear on CD. In fact, the label claims that 6 of the 19 tracks on this disc are making their CD debut here (noted below with an asterisk). The title suggests a love theme, which you can see if you squint with an open mind (how's that for a mixed metaphor?). Great liner notes; let's dig in:
- Love Me With All Your Heart (Cuando Calienta El Sol) – The Ray Charles Singers (1964), Pop #3, AC #1: Not the Ray Charles you're thinking of, but the one that sang the Three's Company theme in the '70s. Classic group vocals easy listening sound in the same vein as Ray Conniff.
- It Must Be Him - Vicki Carr (1967), Pop #3, AC #1: Carr was very popular in West Texas, so I heard her quite a bit growing up there. This is her biggest hit and it's easy to see why - great vocals over soaring strings. Talk about multicultural: an Italian sounding song that originated as a French pop song sung in English by a Mexican-American singer.
- Don't Say You Don't Remember - Beverly Bremers (1971), Pop #15, AC #5: a wonderfully melodic pop concoction. Sounds like something Sandy would have sung in Grease ('70s pop derivative of '50s pop).
- Fallin' In Love* - Hamilton, Joe Frank & Reynolds (1975), Pop #1, AC #1, R&B #24: a song this smooth and popular, it's hard to believe this 3:13 single version has never been digitally released until now. A soft rock classic.
- Winners And Losers* - Hamilton, Joe Frank & Reynolds (1975), Pop #21, AC #5: a back-to-back 2-fer! This single has more of a dance feel to it than Fallin' In Love, but I like it (maybe because I can dance to it). For some reason, it sounds to me like the best Barry Manilow song that Barry never recorded.
- Do What You Wanna Do* - Five Flights Up (1970), Pop #37, AC #35. I'm surprised that this smooth R&B joint with a fantastic chorus didn't chart higher. Sounds like something The Manhattans might have released. Great vocals by writer J. B. Bingham.
- (If You Let Me Make Love To You Then) Why Can't I Touch You? - Ronnie Dyson (1970), Pop #8, R&B #9. Taken from the Off-Broadway rock musical, Salvation. I've never heard of the musical or this song until now. It steals the groove from (Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher, but that just makes it all the better. Dyson had a great voice; sadly, he passed in 1990 at age 40.
- My Pledge Of Love - The Joe Jeffrey Group (1969), Pop #14: a one-hit wonder and that's a shame. Jeffrey had a powerful soul voice. The problem with this recording is that almost everything except Jeffrey's voice is out of tune.
- Little Arrows - Leapy Lee (1968), Pop #16, Country #11: I'll take a pass on this novelty tune.
- Rings* - Cymarron (1971), Pop #17: previously appeared on Super Hits of the '70s: Have a Nice Day, Vol. 17. Here's what I wrote then: "A harmless early '70s pop/folk/country tune. Since it's devoid of any memorable melody and has mumbled lyrics, I'm surprised it made the Top 40 at all."
- Naturally Stoned* - The Avant-Garde (1968), Pop #40: taking the bass line from John Barry's James Bond theme, this group creates a nice funky groove (well, white boy 1968 funky, anyway). Ignore the silly lyrics and it's not bad. One of the group members? Love Connection host Chuck Woolery! We'll be back in two and two.
- Feelings - Morris Albert (1975), Pop #6, AC #2: previously appeared on Super Hits of the '70s: Have a Nice Day, Vol. 17. Here's what I wrote then:"A song so insipidly bad that it immediately became mocked, parodied, and ridiculed upon its release. It ranked #9 on Rolling Stone magazine's readers' poll of The 10 Worst Songs of the 1970s. It probably should have been #1, but that honor went to Rick Dees' Disco Duck, which I'd much rather hear over this schmaltz."
- The Last Farewell - Roger Whittaker (1975), Pop #19, AC #1: Whittaker had a beautiful baritone voice. Great song. I hear this often on a local station that is an affiliate of the America's Best Music network.
- Why Me - Kris Kristofferson (1973), Pop #16, AC #28, Country #1: Kristofferson hadn't fully developed a good singing voice with this one, but it's a catchy country tune. I remember hearing it on the radio in '73 and immediately adopting it to my juvenile needs:
Mom: "Mark, make your bed and clean your room!"
Mark: (singing) ♫"Why me, Lord? What have I ever done..." ♫
- Wedding Song (There is Love) - Paul Stookey (1971), Pop #24, AC #3: It's not terrible, but I'm tired of the song as it was standard fare at weddings throughout the '70s and '80s. Heck, I even sang it at a college friend's wedding in '89. But enough is enough - I rarely hear it anymore.
- Annie's Song - John Denver (1974), Pop #1, AC #1: This is a popular love song/waltz that I've heard many, many times. In fact, to include this on a "hard to find" compilation is suspect - I call shenanigans.
- Oh Happy Day - The Edwin Hawkins Singers (1969), Pop #4, AC #22, R&B #2: Great stuff here, maybe the highlight of the disc. The liner notes state: "the hybrid pop/jazz/soul/gospel style was so influential that Hawkins is now hailed as the Godfather of Contemporary Gospel Music." Good for him and thanks.
- A Song Of Joy* - Miguel Rios (1970), Pop #14, AC #1. Don't remember hearing this on until now. If you need a Spanglish pop music adaptation of the fourth movement of Beethoven's 9th Symphony, this is for you. I'll leave you to it.
- Amazing Grace - The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards (1972), Pop #11, AC #9. As advertised, this is a version of the traditional hymn Amazing Grace performed by Scottish bagpipe and military band. If you've ever seen a fictional policeman's funeral on any TV police procedural show, you've heard it.