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Picks and Pans Review: Have a Nice Day: Super Hits of The' 70s, Volumes 1-10

updated 06/04/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 06/04/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Various artists

The big question, of course, is: Was it really that bad? Were the '70s such a musical nightmare? Based on this massive compendium of Top-40 records from that decade, the answer is an unqualified, emphatic Yes! And hey, this outpouring only takes us through the end of 1973. We could conceivably be looking at 30 chapters of this brain-curdling effluvia. (Rhino Records currently has five more volumes in the works.)

What those scamps at Rhino have given us is basically a garage sale of one-hit wonder groups (Crabby Appleton, the Jaggerz, Wadsworth Mansion), of the fiat-out weird (Daddy Dewdrop's "Chick-A-Boom," the Pipkins' "Gimme Dat Ding," Hot Butter's "Popcorn") and most especially of teeth-grittingly kitschy songs (Vanity Fare's "Hitchin' a Ride," the Partridge Family's "I Think I Love You," Albert Hammond's "It Never Rains in Southern California," the Stampeders' "Sweet City Woman," Climax's "Precious and Few," Daniel Boone's "Beautiful Sunday").

Two decades ago, this type of crudely produced, weirdly arranged music was piping out of hand-held transistor radios and streaming out the windows of passing cars everywhere. If it hadn't been so godawful, we might not have had disco foisted on us.

The tracks that still resonate, if faintly, are marked by a little bit of soul (Spiral Staircase's "More Today Than Yesterday," Steam's "Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye," Dobie Gray's "Drift Away") or have a solid rock foundation (Gary Glitter's "Rock and Roll Part 2," Norman Greenbaum's "Spirit in the Sky"). The pure pop is disposable. Okay, some tracks still sound pretty cool long after their expiration date, such as the Marmalade's "Reflections of My Life," Mungo Jerry's "In the Summertime" and, believe it or not, Gilbert O'Sullivan's "Alone Again (Naturally)." Look, it's only a matter of time before some know-it-all starts expounding to you on why the '80s were a musical wasteland. When he does, smile ruefully and reach for one of these Have a Nice Day packages. Any one will do.

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