Alas, it seems we’ve come to the end of this special “desert island” feature. For this last round, we’re adding one box set to the 12 albums and one movie we’ve each picked thus far.

Now, I must admit, this is the category of which I’m least familiar. I’ve not been much of a consumer of music boxed sets through the years for various reasons. First and foremost, there’s money … they’re usually expensive! Then secondly, often-times the ones which really appeal to me are close to extraneous to my needs. the artists I like well enough to put down perhaps $100 on a collection by are usually the ones I already have most or all the catalog of to begin with! Now, certainly it’s pretty nice to get say, an added disc of demos for a great album, or collectible postcards of a favorite artist but they don’t usually add up to enough of an incentive for me to bu Going all the way back to my first selection here, Automatic for the People by R.E.M.. as much as I love the album, I coudn’t justify spending perhaps $100 to get it again in a big box that didn’t shelve with other CDs and gave me a few outtakes and a handful of nice, but not life-altering postcards when they did a 25th anniversary edition. I do remember back a couple of decades getting a Led Zeppelin box set on a Boxing Day sale (ask a Canadian… it’s the old Canuck version of Black Friday), which had 4 discs I think… at the time I had nothing by them and that was a quick way to get all I’d want to hear by them. I think I had a Rush one too. And last year I was very happy to be given a rather cool Elton John one which has essentially all his singles plus a few extras and a little book. I love it, and considered it but i decided to go out with a “bang” so to speak. And take one which would give me a lot of favorites… and help me work out by using it as a weight to lift, no doubt! So, you may want to throw tomatoes but I’m going to opt for one of those TV informercial products… Time/Life’s Pop Goes The ’70s , deluxe edition.

Last time out I waxed nostalgic on the radio I grew up on in the 1970s… how diverse it was and relatively unstructured, mixing together hits from any kind of musical genre. It was, to me, the soundtrack of my childhood and early teens and what music is meant to be – diverse, varied. Now, I must admit I don’t have this one in my collection – though I think I found the item to add to my Christmas “wish list” – so I’m having to go on the company’s description plus a few reviews I found online. Ironically, this wasn’t even going to be the one I opted for, but when I tried to look up a similar set I thought I remembered seeing, it turned out to be a musical Loch Ness monster… rumoured to have existed but nowhere to be found now! This one came up frequently instead however.

Pop goes the ’70s is in its basic form, a 10-CD set of hits of that decade. “But wait, there’s more” I can hear that infomercial voice saying… because there’s also a deluxe 18-disc set with a total of 271 songs! From all accounts, they’re the original recordings (something to check out on compilations before buying… more than a few “off-brand” ones use re-recorded versions or live tracks etc.) and not “K-tel-ed”. People who remember the K-tel records of the ’70s may recall with horror how they mercilessly edited songs to make them under two minutes so as to get more onto one LP! BTO say “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet”, but you ain’t heard nothin’ yet til you come across a two-minute version of “American Pie”!

The list of songs covered by the collection is extensive and varied. Heck, it even includes a handful of non-’70s tracks like Steve Winwood’s great 1981 hit “While You See A Chance” and Alannah Myles ’90s hit “Black Velvet.” Guess it sounded ’70’sish to the editors at Time/Life. However, for the most part it is nothing but hit after hit of the 1970s. Chances are if it was a hit single but not by one of the superstars with long careers (e.g. Elton, Bee Gees, Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones) it’s here.

The list is far too long to list here but includes great pop songs like “The Things We Do For Love” by 10cc, “Sister Golden Hair” by America, “If You Leave Me Now” by Chicago, “Into the Night” by Benny Mardones; rockers like “It’s a Heartache” by Bonnie Tyler, “Maggie Mae” by Rod Stewart (I was quite surprised to see a star of his stature included), “More than a Feeling” by Boston, and “Stumblin’ In” from Suzi Quatro and the Raspberries “Go All the Way”. There are R&B numbers from the likes of the O’Jays and Dobie Gray and country-crossover hits by Lynn Anderson, John Denver, Dolly Parton. It was the era of disco, and here we hear “Lady Marmelade” by Labelle, “Le Freak” by Chic, and of course “YMCA”. It wouldn’t be the ’70s without the Village People! It was the decade of “yacht rock” and the set gives us the Little River Band, England Dan & John Ford Coley, and their Bahai brothers, Seals and Crofts. And yes, some of the decade’s most memorable songs we wish weren’t remembered are here too, from “The Streak” to “Havin’ my Baby” to “Kung Fu Fighting.”

271 songs, 271 little time-machines. It’ll be good for those long lonely nights on that island, and by the time I come to the end of them, someone’s bound to have flown a rescue plane overhead! Right?

Not all of the music is frankly great, but it all resonates with me. I feel bad for today’s teens, wondering if they will in the 2050s feel as nostalgic about Justin Bieber or Lil Wayne or any of the other hot stars de jour I’ve not even heard of.

To close, I’d just like to say thanks to Hanspostcard for organizing this event and for giving me a chance to take part! It’s been a lot of fun, it’s been a learning experience reading about other fans’ great favorites and it’s been wonderful getting to know my nine fellow writers better! See you next year? I hope so!

Hey Mary-anne… come on over to my hut and listen to this CD…


  1. Yesterday I said the ‘tween’ me would have been looking at that 70s set in the record store, and now the late teen me would have been writing down the number on the TV to order this one. 🙂 The mere mention of Time-Life sets takes me back! Another great pick and write up. Thanks for the nostalgia.

  2. That would be a great box to have with you on a long driving trip! Love those compilations where you don’t know what song is coming next when you are listening. A great mixture on this one.

  3. Very enjoyable write-up, Dave. Total immersion of a decade and more! So funny they included a couple from other decades. There always has to be a couple of duds in there to make the rest sound better. Hoogedy hoogedy! I have a boxed set I could have chosen called, “Box of Rock” and mine is volume 2 so there must be at least one other. I think the music is from maybe 50’s and 60’s (forgot now) but instead of using the original recordings, they had the original artists re-record. It’s a gem of a set that I picked up used online.

  4. Awesome Dave! Great collection. Variety is the spice of life and this has it…I want to come over and visit Mary Anne… I did shake her hand before as a 10 year old!…

  5. Dave- were the discs divided into categories like two discs of One Hit Wonders, Magic? Wildfire? A library in the library system had 5 Pop Goes The 70’s- 2 discs each- I ordered them- wasn’t sure if this is what you picked or not?

    • Yeah I believe so, though the themes weren’ t obvious to me. I think for sure one was titled ‘Wildfire’. Rhino had similar 70s compilations, of which I have a few, but they were more chronological than categories.

  6. Overall, the ’70s were a great decade in music, and this box set captures a good deal. It’s a bit strange they threw in songs from outside the decade. While it’s a minor wrinkle, it does make look Tie Life a bit amateurish.

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