The Music and Me

col_kc.jpgShopping for others was my goal, but along the way I came across several greatest-hits CDs that I simply couldn’t resist. 

 

 

The holidays have now come and gone. All of the hustle and bustle, frenzy and frazzle of the season is over, leaving everyone time to relax and recoup. What better way to recoup than listening to a few great tunes?

During my mad Christmas shopping spree, I stopped at my local Best Buy store to purchase gifts. Shopping for others was my goal, but along the way I came across several greatest-hits CDs that I simply couldn’t resist. These sets should have been part of my music collection long ago, and now, thankfully, they are.

It was indeed a very merry Christmas.

The Best of KC & the Sunshine Band

I wasn’t born until the mid 1970s. Consequently, I missed out on the opportunity to fully immerse myself in the disco partying and dancing that marked the decade. But I can say with absolute certainty that if I had come of age way back then, I definitely would have been a regular at the local discothèque, moving and grooving with the crowd, doing the hustle, the cha-cha-cha, and other popular partner and line dances of the time to the pulsating sounds of KC and the Sunshine Band.

Since I’ve always fancied myself a dancer, it’s only natural that the music of Harry "KC" Casey and friends should be part of my CD collection. This best-of CD is truly some of the best disco music ever recorded, with standouts like "I’m Your Boogie Man," "Get Down Tonight," "Boogie Shoes," "(Shake, Shake, Shake) Shake Your Booty," "That’s the Way (I Like It)," and many more. Thanks to KC, the band and their incredible feel-good hits, I can enjoy a nonstop disco party for years to come.

The Best of INXS

col_inxs.jpgThere’s something very alluring, raw and ultimately seductive about the voice of Michael Hutchence, the original lead singer of INXS. That fact wasn’t lost on me when I was first introduced to the band from Down Under back in 1987. At that time, INXS had become massively popular with the release of their sixth album, Kick. The record produced an astonishing four hit singles: "New Sensation," "Devil Inside," "Mystify" and perhaps their most popular tune, "Need You Tonight."

This greatest-hits compilation includes all of those songs, as well as earlier hits such as "What You Need" and "The One Thing," and later smashes like "Disappear" and "Suicide Blonde." Although Hutchence passed away in 1997, the great music that he and the other members of INXS made will continue to live on forever.

The Best of Keith Sweat: Make You Sweat

Before there was the famous whine of R&B great R. Kelly, there was the even more distinctive, soulful whine of Keith Sweat. While Sweat may not be as well known or respected as Kelly, he was one of the original kings of New Jack Swing when he burst onto the scene in 1987 with his debut single, "I Want Her." That song quickly shot up the charts, thanks to Sweat and super-producer Teddy Riley’s fresh New Jack Swing sound. Over the years, Sweat continued to enjoy success with hits like "Don’t Stop Your Love," "Something Just Ain’t Right," "Make It Last Forever" and my favorite, "Make You Sweat." Those songs and many more worthy efforts are included in this greatest hits compilation.

What I’ve come to love and appreciate about Sweat’s signature sound is that even though his voice isn’t stellar, his sound is unique and always pleasing. His vocal delivery and style served as a basic blueprint for later seductive R&B crooners, like R. Kelly. But no R&B performer before or since has sounded quite like Sweat, and that makes his greatest-hits compilation a welcome addition to my music library.

Guns N’ Roses Greatest Hits

I love Guns N’ Roses. I actually can’t believe I’ve gone for so long (since its release in 2004) without owning their greatest hits. I can still vividly remember seeing the "Welcome to the Jungle" video on MTV for the first time back in 1987. I was up late one night (or rather early morning) when all of a sudden, a video came on TV and I heard this alarming opening riff that grew louder and louder. Then I saw this seemingly normal guy get off a bus in New York City, only to be immediately accosted by some sleazy man selling drugs. I was shocked; I’d never seen such behavior in a music video.

A few seconds later, wild-haired lead singer Axl Rose was screaming at the top of his lungs, strutting across the stage in leather pants and with tattoos all over his arms. Rose was accompanied by his band, who themselves were having the time of their lives playing their loud music. They were in heaven, and so was I! I knew that I was witnessing something quite original, something groundbreaking, something huge: the spectacular arrival of Guns N’ Roses.

And spectacular is exactly what this CD is, jammed with classic, hard-rocking hits from start to finish. It features all of Guns N’ Roses major singles, including "Paradise City," "Sweet Child O’ Mine," "Patience," "You Could Be Mine," the epic "November Rain" and, of course, my beloved "Welcome to the Jungle." Where in the world would hair bands or hard rock bands be without Guns N’ Roses, the true leaders of the pack?

U2: The Best of 1980-1990
U2: The Best of 1990-2000

What can I say about Bono and the boys except they are truly awe-inspiring. Everything about this band rocks: their lyrics, their musicianship, their sheer auras and unquestionably, front man Bono’s unapologetically mesmerizing vocals. U2 is the kind of band that, once you’ve been introduced to their sound and their message, you simply must hear more. You willingly follow them as they journey from album to album, making everlasting music with passion and meaning.

I hate to admit it but I was a bit late in recognizing the genius of U2. Although they’ve been wowing crowds around the world for nearly three decades now, it wasn’t until a few years ago that I became a U2 fan, thanks to the urging of my best friend. For as long as I can remember, she’s been a true blue, diehard U2 fan, going on and on about how gorgeous Bono was (and still is!) and how amazing the band’s message and music was. After years of her prodding, I finally took time to listen to the music, examine the lyrics, and absorb this talented band’s overall message. My verdict: phenomenal! I couldn’t believe that I’d dismissed my friend’s wise claims for so long.

Now, as a newly minted diehard U2 fan myself, both of the band’s best-of CDs are prized additions to my music collection. The discs include all of their major hits during the 1980s and 1990s. The 1980-1990 disc features such timeless classics as "With or Without You," "New Year’s Day," "I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For," "Sunday Bloody Sunday," "Desire" and "Where the Streets Have No Name." The follow-up 1990-2000 disc is filled with hits like "Mysterious Ways," "Even Better than the Real Thing," "One," "Stuck in a Moment You Can’t Get Out Of," "Numb" and the much-loved "Beautiful Day." This solid collection is a must-have for any U2 fan, new or old.

As you can see from the above selections, my taste in music is all across the board. When I say I listen to just about everything, I really do mean it. I’m a firm believer that you shouldn’t limit yourself to only one style or genre of music. Why do that when there’s so much to choose from and a countless number of artists to enjoy? | Retannical D. Russell

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