Abba -- Number Ones (Polar/UMe)
These two respective anthologies are perfect primers for the recently converted fan to the most ardent ABBA-phile. The compact disc is packed with one-and-a-half-dozen international chart-toppers and the video DVD boasts a total of 24 individual songs. Listeners and viewers alike are treated to Anni-Frid "Frida" Lyngstad, Benny Andersson, Björn Ulvaeus, and Agnetha Fältskog on a more global scale. Music is truly a universal language, especially when you consider that the Swedish quartet had survey topping tracks throughout Europe, Africa, New Zealand, Australia, Zimbabwe, as well as a bit closer to home in Mexico.
The song selection for the CD and DVD overlap with the classics "Gimmie! Gimmie! Gimmie! (A Man After Midnight)," "Mamma Mia," "Dancing Queen," "Super Trouper," "SOS," Money, Money, Money," "The Winner Takes It All," "Chiquitta," "Knowing Me, Knowing You," "Voulez-Vous," "Fernando," "Waterloo," "The Name Of The Game," "I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do," "Take A Chance On Me" and "I Have A Dream." And although "Summer Night City" and "One Of Us," made somewhat less of an impact Stateside, both made it to the top in (of all places) Ireland.
In terms of extras, the DVD includes six bonus TV guest spots that are suitably bookended with their April of '74 appearance on the BBC-TV's Top Of The Pops singing their first Number One "Waterloo." Equally poignant is the foursome's farewell performance on the Late, Late Breakfast Show, via satellite from Stockholm. They sing their touching ballad "I Have A Dream" and "Under Attack" -- one of the last songs ABBA would create together.
Peter Frampton -- Frampton Comes Alive 2 (Hip-O/UMe)
Nearly two decades after unleashing the seminal Frampton Comes Alive (1976), the British guitar god returned to the Bay Area in June of 1995 for his long-awaited sequel. While nothing could repeat the remarkable success or incomparable influence of that initial collection, Frampton Comes Alive II (2007) -- available on DVD as well as a newly-expanded two-CD Special Edition -- does more than an admirable job of presenting the artist's timeless blues-fused rock, including selections from throughout his 30+ year solo career.
True to form, the real star of the show is Frampton's oft-imitated, yet sorely-underrated fretwork. The set list is fuelled by the anticipatory mid '70s rock staples "Lines On My Face," "Show Me The Way," "I'm In You," a medley of "Nassau" and "Baby, I Love Your Way, as well as the nearly 20-minute showstopper "Do You Feel Like We Do".
Equally impressive is the mileage that Frampton gets out of treasures from his arguably lesser known back catalogue. His concurrent self-titled long player from 1994 is the source for "Day In The Sun," "You," "Can't Take That Away," "Off The Hook," and "Waiting For Your Love". He reaches back to the mostly-forgettable mid '80s album Premonition (1986) on "Lying" and even sports the impressive newer offering "Talk To Me" as well as a cover of Tim Hardin's "Hang On To A Dream".
The extended running time of the DVD affords the inclusion of Frampton stalwarts "Penny For Your Thoughts," "All I Wanna Be (Is By Your Side)," "I Wanna Go To The Sun," and another new tune titled "Almost Said Goodbye". Plus, you can choose from Dolby 2.0 Stereo or either Dolby or DTS 5.1 Surround Sound.
Thin Lizzy -- The Definitive Collection CD (Mercury/UMe)
Thin Lizzy -- Greatest Hits DVD (Mercury/UMe)
Fans of the Irish-based Thin Lizzy should be pleased with both of these packages. The Greatest Hits DVD (2006) is the first of its kind to gather a total of 19 MTV-style concept videos, live performances and television guest shots from throughout the band's career. The Definitive Collection CD (2006) lists no less than 16 Thin Lizzy anthems.
The anticipatory "The Boys Are Back In Town," "Jailbreak," and "Whiskey In The Jar," are included on both, as are "Chinatown," "The Rocker," "Wild One," "Don't Believe A Word," "Bad Reputation," "Dancing In The Moonlight" and "Rosealie," which incidentally is linked in a live medley alongside "Cowgirl Song," on the Definitive Collection. However, one striking caveat is that the content on the DVD -- which is parenthetically listed as 'live' -- is lip-synced and then consequently edited to simulate the effect of an in-person concert performance.
Latter era clips feature Brian Roberston's equally skilled replacement, stringman Gary Moore (lead guitar) on "Waiting For An Alibi," and the laissez-faire ethos of "Do Anything You Want To." "Chinatown" and "Killer On The Loose" are almost kitschy in their overtly misogynistic messages and futile attempts at recapturing the hipness of their heyday.
Overall the DVD quality is excellent, even as some of the source materials are approaching the three-decade mark. The worst of the lot are "The Boys Are Back In Town," and "Thunder and Lightning," although by the late '70s and early '80s material, the image clarity has been significantly improved. The audio should be noted as well, with the stereo Dolby Digital 2.0 mix vastly inferior to the 5.1 remix -- which seems to have been done specifically for this Greatest Hits project.
Lindsay Planer is a freelance journalist and is the weekday on-air producer at WDYT 1220 AM in Charlotte, NC. He's also a contributor to All Music Guide, CrutchfieldAdvisor.com and the Gaston Gazette.
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