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The Dance Collection

Donna Summer

Disco - Released January 1, 1987 | Island Mercury

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She Works Hard For The Money

Donna Summer

Disco - Released June 1, 1983 | Island Mercury

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Donna Summer's brassy, matter-of-fact mezzo does not play the sexy sanctified diva, and her musicians' crisp, loud beats don't evoke rapture or delirium. Instead, she and her rhythm men live up to the title of "She Works Hard for the Money." Here's praise for a waitress' 12-hour workday that sums up Summer's own post-dance queen job status, as well as disco fans' own spotlighted lives and maintains the pressure, from the steel-and-synth riffs of "Stop, Look & Listen" to the impatient tenderness of "People, People." No one writes about love with as mesmeric a sense of wonder as Summer confesses in "Love Has a Mind of Its Own," "Unconditional Love," and "I Do Believe (I Fell in Love)." © Michael Freedberg /TiVo
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I Remember Yesterday

Donna Summer

Disco - Released May 1, 1977 | Island Mercury

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Donna Summer continued her climb to superstardom with this late-'70s album, her first since the attention-grabbing Love to Love You Baby album in 1975 to crack the pop Top 20. The single "I Feel Love" was her second Top 10 R&B and pop hit, and paved the way for Summer to emerge shortly after as disco's reigning queen. © Ron Wynn /TiVo
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Once Upon A Time

Donna Summer

Disco - Released October 31, 1977 | Island Mercury

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Once Upon A Time

Donna Summer

Disco - Released October 31, 1977 | Island Mercury

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I Remember Yesterday

Donna Summer

Disco - Released May 1, 1977 | Island Mercury

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Donna Summer continued her climb to superstardom with this late-'70s album, her first since the attention-grabbing Love to Love You Baby album in 1975 to crack the pop Top 20. The single "I Feel Love" was her second Top 10 R&B and pop hit, and paved the way for Summer to emerge shortly after as disco's reigning queen. © Ron Wynn /TiVo
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They Said It Couldn't Be Done, But We Did It!

The Dells

Soul - Released January 1, 2012 | Island Mercury

3 stars out of 5 -- "The Dells are significantly better vocalists than Melvin's Blues Notes with Johnny Carter's falsetto the perfect foil for Junior." © TiVo
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Love Connection

The Dells

Soul - Released January 1, 2012 | Island Mercury

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Exit ... Stage Left

Rush

Rock - Released October 1, 1981 | Island Mercury

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Caress Of Steel

Rush

Rock - Released April 8, 1997 | Island Mercury

When Rush finished their third album, Caress of Steel, the trio was assured that they had created their breakthrough masterpiece. But when the album dropped off the charts soon after its release, it proved otherwise. While it was Rush's first release that fully explored their prog rock side, it did not contain the catchy and more traditional elements of their future popular work -- it's quite often too indulgent and pretentious for a mainstream rock audience to latch onto. And while Rush would eventually excel in composing lengthy songs, the album's two extended tracks -- the 12½-minute "The Necromancer" and the nearly 20-minute "The Fountain of Lamneth" -- show that the band was still far from mastering the format. The first side contains two strong and more succinct tracks, the raging opener, "Bastille Day," and the more laid-back "Lakeside Park," both of which would become standards for their live show in the '70s. But the ill-advised "I Think I'm Going Bald" (which lyrically deals with growing old) borders on the ridiculous, which confirms that Caress of Steel is one of Rush's more unfocused albums. © Greg Prato /TiVo
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Sturdy

The Lemons

Pop - Released January 1, 2009 | Island Mercury

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Burning In The Sun

Blue Merle

Rock - Released January 1, 2005 | Island Mercury

Blue Merle's debut takes a couple listens to sink in, but even then, it just misses sinking in deep enough. The beautiful, earthy but driven sonic landscape of Burning in the Sun instantly lets the listener know this is something unique, even as familiar acts like Counting Crows, Toad the Wet Sprocket, and David Gray are coming to mind. Blue Merle share a lot with these poignant popsters -- wistful attitude, soft rock temperament, and that balance of weary and hopeful emotions -- but what separates them is their more mature, more rustic musicianship and their frontman, Luke Reynolds. As a lyricist, he relies on shards of thoughts, fuzzy memories, and impressionistic bits of prose that don't paint a clear picture. Combine this with the delivery of an unrestrained, fancy-free Adam Duritz and an exquisitely talented band -- an acoustic, front-porch version of Steely Dan -- and it sounds like a winner. The only problem is, Blue Merle are so impassioned and so impressionistic that Burning in the Sun feels like it's slipping through the listener's fingers at times. That doesn't mean it's a bad album, but there's a more solid, sober, and satisfying album somewhere underneath all this ardor. Tracks like "Places" and "Every Ship Must Sail Away" have their feet firmly planted on the ground, but elsewhere, things get dreamy to the point of "mood music" that works perfectly when you're feeling rather rainy-day, but is annoying when you aren't. Blue Merle sound spirited away by this unique sound they've created, and it makes one think that all the loose ends will be addressed on their next record. Here, they're a bit too in love with their filigree, but it's a heartfelt, genuine sound worth any acoustic rock fan's attention. © David Jeffries /TiVo
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Live At Bull Moose

Blue Merle

Rock - Released January 1, 2005 | Island Mercury

Blue Merle's EP Live at Bull Moose Music offers an intimate and more direct alternative to their sprawling and a shade too ambitious debut. Captured live in front of a small audience, the wistful band is tight, wanders less, and juggles hope and heartbreak in a more convincing manner than in the studio. The stripped-down and acoustic instrumentation suits them just fine, making them the perfect mixtape segue for going from the Counting Crows to your favorite rootsy artist on Rounder Records. © David Jeffries /TiVo

All-Time Greatest Hits

The Platters

R&B - Released January 1, 2004 | Island Mercury

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This is a superb single-disc distillation of the Platters' biggest hits, with all 15 of their first Top Forty hits, an astonishing run that went from 1955's "Only You (And You Alone)" through 1960's "Harbor Lights" -- and adds the more modern soul-pop successes they landed in 1966 and 1967 with "With This Ring" and "I Love You 1000 Times." Admittedly, it lacks a few obscure tracks found on Rhino's 1998 comp Enchanted: The Best of the Platters, although none of the extra songs are among the group's more familiar numbers. (Also, serious enthusiasts might prefer Mercury's two-CD, 50-track The Magic Touch: An Anthology.) Still, this set proves that the Platters recorded some of the finest, and certainly the most successful, pop-doo wop crossover music ever made. © Richie Unterberger /TiVo
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The Best Of KISS - Volume 2 20th Century Masters The Millennium Collection

Kiss

Rock - Released January 1, 2004 | Island Mercury

The majority of Kiss hits collections to surface since the late '90s (and boy, have there been a truckload of them) have focused primarily on the group's makeup years, which is understandable since that's when the dudes smeared the grease paint back on. But for the most part, their unmasked years have been glossed over on subsequent hits collections (or included in small quantities). 2004's 20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection: The Best of Kiss, Vol. 2 is the first Kiss collection ever to primarily focus on their non-makeup era, covering the years 1982 through 1990. While this certainly wasn't Kiss' finest era -- neither commercially (with Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley the only original members left by this point, Kiss saw their fan base dwindle considerably since their '70s heyday) nor musically (the group seemed to follow rather than lead the heavy metal pack) -- there are a few hard rockin' gems included here. Opening things up with one of their heaviest compositions ever, the title track from Creatures of the Night (the band's last release with makeup), the early portion of the collection fares the best, as exemplified by such further strong rockers as the anthemic "I Love It Loud," "Lick It Up," and "Heaven's on Fire." Then...there's a bit of a road bump. As the '80s wore on, Kiss became more and more pop-metal-oriented by merely trying to replicate the chart toppers of the day (Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, etc.), as evidenced by such lackluster tracks as "Uh! All Night," "Crazy Crazy Nights," and "Reason to Live." If you're a newcomer to Kiss looking for solid, career-encompassing best of sets, such other titles as Double Platinum and The Very Best of Kiss are better bets. But if it's an overview of strictly the non-makeup era, then 20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection: The Best of Kiss, Vol. 2 is the collection for you. © Greg Prato /TiVo
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Just For You

Lionel Richie

Pop - Released January 1, 2004 | Island Mercury

Lionel Richie spent much of the '90s relatively quiet, and when he attempted a comeback toward the end of the decade, it didn't make many waves. It wasn't until the early part of the 2000s that his profile increased considerably as his greatest-hits disc The Definitive Collection cracked the Top 20, he guest-judged on American Idol, and his daughter Nicole tramped around on the Fox reality show The Simple Life. All of this set the stage for Just for You, his 2004 return to adult contemporary soft rock. There are still gentle quiet storm overtones and subdued R&B beats on a few tracks, such as his duet with Daniel Bedingfield, "Do Ya," but the overall approach on this record is firmly within the polished, melodic soft rock that brought Richie to a massive crossover audience in the early '80s, only updated for contemporary radio. Just for You is a well-crafted record; if anything, it's a little too well crafted, sailing by on its sleek surfaces and carefully constructed songs, leaving it as nothing much more than a collection of romantic, mature mood music. It's effective romantic mood music, though, and after a few plays, a handful of the hooks begin to sink in, even if the songs themselves are never quite as memorable as his hits from the '80s. Nevertheless, this is one of the more appealing records Richie had made in quite some time, as it's both assured and unassuming, relaxed and tuneful. Unlike his '90s records, it's consistent, both in its quality of songs and its cohesive sound, and even if it's not a full-fledged comeback, it's a solid latter-day record that lives up to his legacy. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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The Reason

Hoobastank

Rock - Released January 1, 2004 | Island Mercury

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Don't Go (Girls and Boys)

FEFE DOBSON

Rock - Released January 1, 2004 | Island Mercury

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The Wanderer

Marc Broussard

Rock - Released January 1, 2004 | Island Mercury

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Just For You

Lionel Richie

Pop - Released January 1, 2004 | Island Mercury

Lionel Richie spent much of the '90s relatively quiet, and when he attempted a comeback toward the end of the decade, it didn't make many waves. It wasn't until the early part of the 2000s that his profile increased considerably as his greatest-hits disc The Definitive Collection cracked the Top 20, he guest-judged on American Idol, and his daughter Nicole tramped around on the Fox reality show The Simple Life. All of this set the stage for Just for You, his 2004 return to adult contemporary soft rock. There are still gentle quiet storm overtones and subdued R&B beats on a few tracks, such as his duet with Daniel Bedingfield, "Do Ya," but the overall approach on this record is firmly within the polished, melodic soft rock that brought Richie to a massive crossover audience in the early '80s, only updated for contemporary radio. Just for You is a well-crafted record; if anything, it's a little too well crafted, sailing by on its sleek surfaces and carefully constructed songs, leaving it as nothing much more than a collection of romantic, mature mood music. It's effective romantic mood music, though, and after a few plays, a handful of the hooks begin to sink in, even if the songs themselves are never quite as memorable as his hits from the '80s. Nevertheless, this is one of the more appealing records Richie had made in quite some time, as it's both assured and unassuming, relaxed and tuneful. Unlike his '90s records, it's consistent, both in its quality of songs and its cohesive sound, and even if it's not a full-fledged comeback, it's a solid latter-day record that lives up to his legacy. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo