The Mamas and the Papas blazed across the '60s folk-rock scene, scoring nine Top 40 hits in less than two years. So bright was their brief run that it earned them a berth in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. This set shows at least some of the reason why–there's the era-defining hit "California Dreamin'," plus other triumphs such as "Monday, Monday," "Words of Love," "Dedicated to the One I Love," and the autobiographical "Creeque Alley".
Taken from the high-energy harpist's first three albums for Verve following his split from Muddy Waters (including the entirety of his fine eponymous 1967 debut), this 20-track anthology is a fine spot to begin any serious Cotton collection. In those days, Cotton was into soul as well as blues – witness his raucous versions of "Knock on Wood" and "Turn on Your Lovelight," backed by a large horn complement. Compiler Dick Shurman has chose judiciously from his uneven pair of Verve follow-ups, making for a very consistent compilation.
It's likely that a large portion of the audience Del Amitri won with the lightly infectious, incessantly catchy "Roll to Me" thought of the Scottish group as a new band, not an outfit that had been recording for over a decade. That may be one of the reasons why Hatful of Rain: The Best of Del Amitri was released in 1998, a mere three years after "Roll to Me" climbed into the Top Ten. (It could also be that the follow-up, Some Other Sucker's Parade, stiffed on the charts.) In any case, Hatful of Rain is an excellent overview of Del Amitri's career, containing no less than 17 tracks, including all of their American and British hits. It may overlook their early independent singles, yet the consistency of their major-label work in the '80s and '90s gives the collection a sense of cohesion, even if it is sequenced out of chronological order. What matters is that Hatful of Rain contains everything that a casual fan could want while reconfirming their stature as a solid singles band to their core constituents – and that's everything a good greatest-hits album should do.