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Notable CDs

Notable CDs | Four noteworthy rock and pop reissues reviewed by Arsenio Orteza

Issue: "Obama," Nov. 15, 2008

Live at Shea Stadium

Style: Sixteen of the best-known English punk band's best-known songs as performed in 1982 before 72,000 fans of the Who (for whom the Clash was opening).

Worldview: "We ain't got no baseball, no baseball tonight! We ain't got no football! They're on strike! But what we have got for ya is a little bit of what's going on in London at the moment" (from Kosmo Vinyl's introductory exhortation)!

Overall quality: A louder and prouder single-disc summary than either The Story of the Clash Vol. 1 or The Singles.

Multi Dimensional Warrior

Style: Disc One: 14 lesser-known Santana songs with vocals, 1977-2004; Disc Two: 14 lesser-known Santana instrumentals, 1970-2003.

Worldview: "Somewhere in heaven / there is a place / waiting for you and me. / He made a promise, / gave every drop of blood, / died on the cross / so we'd be free" ("Somewhere in Heaven," 1993).

Overall quality: Except for "Somewhere in Heaven," which proves Jesus is just all right with Carlos Santana, the hippie-dippy vocal songs (and vocals) can't hold an incense stick to the hippie-trippy instrumentals.

Solo/Timeless

Style: The first two solo (and falsetto-free) albums (1967 and 1968 respectively) by the Four Seasons' lead singer.

Worldview: That, as a man in his mid-30s, Valli had grown as tired as the public of the Four Seasons' wall-of-sound doo-wop and was now ready to stand toe-to-toe (if not quite eye-to-eye or voice-to-voice) with Frank Sinatra.

Overall quality: "Can't Take My Eyes Off You" was the only hit from these albums, but the material, the arrangements, and Valli's singing on the others mesh at a similarly high level.

Love Train: The Sound of Philadelphia

Style: Four discs' and 16 years' worth of the "uniquely jazz-tinged style called Philly Soul, pioneered by Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff-and polished to perfection by . . . Thom Bell" (the liner notes).

Worldview: That the "best of Philadelphia Soul . . . represents . . . something still audible a generation later-the joyous sound of pure love" (the liner notes).

Overall quality: Less consistent than the Detroit competition (Motown), more consistent than the Memphis competition (Stax-Volt); trimming it to three discs would've improved the hits-to-misses ratio.

Spotlight

Between the March release of the single-disc The Sound of Philadelphia: Gamble & Huff's Greatest Hits (Philadelphia International/Legacy) and the October release of the four-disc Love Train: The Sound of Philadelphia (ditto), 2008 would seem to be a year of jubilee for lovers of vintage East Coast soul. Hit after hit by the Spinners and the Stylistics, "When Will I See You Again" by the Three Degrees-there really was more to the 1970s than Nixon, leisure suits, and disco.

There's only one problem. None of the hits by the O'Jays on the 14-track single disc is "For the Love of Money," and no lover of money will want to spend the 38 extra dollars needed to get that missing piece of classic Gamble & Huff on the 71-track four-disc set-especially when to do so means getting a few dozen less-than-classic singles along the lines of Jean Carn's "Free Love" and Dee Dee Sharp's "I'm Not in Love."

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