Have A Nice Decade: The '70s Pop Culture Box

Various Artists

Rhino Records, 1998

REVIEW BY: Pete Crigler


Now, I am aware there are already two previous reviews of this box but it’s been twenty years since the last one and I was not born in the ‘70s so I don’t feel as attached to this music as many others might. This is a lavish box painstakingly assembled by Rhino Records and, as opposed to the trash fire that was the ‘90s box that came out around 2007, this one actually has a good chunk of material that rightfully belongs here. Particularly in the early years of the decade, there were numerous great hits and memorable songs that deserve a place here. And then there’s some utter garbage that leaves you wondering, “Why was this a hit?”

There are notable exclusions here that would have made the box better, including Heart, Cheap Trick, Eagles, Buffett, ABBA, Aerosmith, Ramones, Jim Croce, and Fleetwood Mac. I know that Zeppelin don’t license their material for boxes like this, but I mean, c’mon, its Zeppelin! The same thing with Sabbath; a little metal breaking up the AM sap would’ve been a godsend. But what’s here is still mostly good. You’ve got your standbys like America, The Spinners, Isleys, Bowie even, so there’s some good stuff scattered throughout.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Then there’s utter garbage like “Convoy,” the insipid and revolting “Put Your Hand In The Hand,” “The Entertainer,” and “Beach Baby.” On top of that, there’s songs that should never have been hits in the first place like “Chick-A-Boom (Don’t Ya Jes’ Love It)” by Daddy Dewdrops, “Joy” by Apollo 100, and Gallery’s “Nice To Be With You.” But I guess they had to pad out the box with crap since they couldn’t get every artist they wanted.

But all the AM goodness like “Treat Her Like A Lady,” “One Toke Over The Line,” “Give Me Just A Little More Time,” “Jackie Blue” and “Dancing In The Moonlight” really allow the box to shine as a cohesive piece of AM radio goodness. There’s even a few tracks I was never really familiar with like El Chicano’s “Tell Her She’s Lovely,” the novelty “Black Superman” by Johnny Wakelin, “I Gotcha” by Joe Tex, and “Sideshow” by Blue Magic, which really stuck out to me and made some of this decade really come alive.

Of course, near the end of the box when disco and schmaltz like Dan Hill and David Soul were all over the radio, I lost quite a bit of interest. Luckily, they decided to include “Werewolves Of London” and Little River Band’s “Happy Anniversary,” a sprightly pop number I’d never heard before and that helped bring the decade to a semi-glorious end.

While the box may be better altogether than the ‘90s catastrophe, the exclusions, the sometimes overly catty liner notes, and overall headscratchers prevent it from being the end all, be all. But let’s face it, it’s about as damn definitive as one of these endless best of the ‘70s compilations will likely ever be. Where else can you get all these hits from the original artists in one groovy place?

Rating: B

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