Rosanna: The Very Best of Toto is a strange, hastily assembled, budget-priced box set that boasts three discs and 41 tracks, yet somehow manages to omit "Africa," which alongside "Rosanna" and "Hold the Line," ranks as one of the band's most recognizable hits. Kudos for including the excellent and underrated "Take My Hand" from the Dune soundtrack, though. Listeners would be much better off with 2009's ample Africa: The Best of Toto or its streamlined cousin Playlist: The Very Best of Toto.
In 1984, well-established Chicago folksingers Bob Gibson and Tom Paxton united with newcomer Anne Hills to form a trio called Best of Friends. For the next year and a half, they performed together, then went their separate ways. But they never recorded as a group. Two decades later, Appleseed Recordings unearthed this 1985 concert performance from Holsteins folk club in Chicago, taped for broadcast by WFMT's The Midnight Special radio show by its host, Rich Warren. Paxton explains that, while all three are essentially solo acts, occasionally they wonder what their songs will sound like with harmony, and this is a chance to find out.
British singer and guitarist Chris Rea has enjoyed a run of popularity in Europe during the late '80s and early '90s after almost a decade of previous recording. Rea started out performing with a local group called Magdalene, taking David Coverdale's place; the band won a national talent contest in 1975 as the Beautiful Losers, but still failed to get a record contract…
Polydor wised up with this 1997 expanded version of their 1990 set, The Very Best of the Bee Gees, in that they took the collection and added nine tracks (from 12 to 21), intensifying the study of the impressive depth and breadth of the Bee Gees catalog. The collection runs chronologically from the group's late-'60s folk-pop period through their legendary disco contributions, thus tracing the arc of the Gibbs brothers' diverse career via their influence on pop culture and vice versa. The collection is then topped off by two late-'80s cuts that sit alongside the collection remarkably well and serve as a reminder that the Bee Gees were much more than the definition of disco, but continued to write some great songs regardless of production or arrangement.
The Story So Far: The Very Best of Rod Stewart is a 2001 Rod Stewart career-retrospective compilation album, which summarizes his solo work beginning with material from his 1971 breakthrough album Every Picture Tells a Story until his 2001 album Human. For contractual reasons, only two songs from his Mercury Records tenure ("Maggie May" and "You Wear It Well") were included (a third song from the Mercury era, "Reason to Believe", was included in a live acoustic version from the Warner Bros. album Unplugged…and Seated). The rest of the material is from different albums released under Warner Bros. Records…
The U.K. collection The Very Best of Michael Bolton – initially released in 2005, repackaged as a slide pack in 2007 – is a good overview of the singer's peak years, containing all the big hits except "Love Is a Wonderful Thing" (only natural, considering the lawsuit surrounding the song) in a 17-track compilation that should give most listeners all the Bolton they need.
The 40 tracks compiled on this two-disc set represent the entire span of pianist and singer Leroy Carr's recording career that spanned a brief seven years, from 1928-1935. The material represented here – all but one of these tracks were recorded for the Vocalion label – features accompaniment by guitarist Scrapper Blackwell on all but one selection, and Josh White on a handful as well. Carr's material here ranges from the classic piano blues of the era that spawned Ma Rainey and Bessie Smith to vaudeville and hokum tunes made popular by artists like Tampa Red and Georgia Tom. Carr's voice is the haunting thing here; it's higher and very clear, sweet almost, as evidenced by most of these sides. But there was an edge, too; one that belied a kind of pathos underneath even the most cheery material – check "Mean Mistreater Blues" or "Bread Baker." But the darker material such as "Suicide Blues" (one of six previously unissued performances), "Straight Alky Blues," or "Shinin' Pistol," is strange and eerie given Carr's smooth approach. Carr may not be the most well-known bluesman of the era, but his contribution is profound and lasting. This collection puts to shame almost all others with the exception of the multi-volume complete recordings on Document.