K-Tel: Wow! That's What I Call Music! The Twentieth Anniversary Edition

This is the twentieth Music Monday!  Time to bring out the Stars!

So we are going back to basics, back to those K-Tel compilations that started it all here on Music Mondays.  HERC pulled one two three four five six seven eight NINE albums off the shelves of the Hideaway Audio Archives, which is currently undergoing expensive as well as extensive renovations in an effort to house all of HERC's collection in one central location rather than spread out in three wings of the compound as it is now.  Improvements include all new shelving, paint & wall decor, a comfy listening chair and an audio workstation built into a former closet (i.e. a computer, a desk and a desk chair) where future Hideaway entries will be composed while listening to Spotify or actually spinning the vinyl albums on his new turntable.

Today's theme is "stars" and all of the albums featured today have the word "star" in their title.  HERC likes it when things work out like that, don't you?  FULL DISCLOSURE: The first four albums are K-Tel and the remainder are Ronco releases.  Potato, tomato.

Stars [1977]
Those of you paying close attention (or at least those of you who know how to read) will notice that the commercial at the top of this post advertised "Original Stars 20 Original Hits".  Now look at the scan above which is identical to HERC's copy of the album and read what it says: "Original Stars*Original Hits".  Turns out the commercial is for the Canadian version of the album.  HERC's exhaustive research didn't turn up a full track listing but he did manage to scribble down the songs and artists from the commercial which amounted to 12 of the 20 tracks with some overlap of tracks on the U.S. version.

The Spotify playlist for the US version (above) lacks two tracks but HERC is gonna attempt to make it up to you by including a BONUS playlist featuring the U.S. version with the seven tracks from the commercial that are not on the U.S. version, making the 23 track playlist below:

Starburst [1978]
This album was mentioned on The Hideaway way, way back on the inaugural Music Monday and it was even mentioned in the blog's very first comment by a reader who said he received it on cassette for getting good grades.  HERC received it as a gift, too, but in vinyl form and not for good grades.  Which is not to say he didn't earn good grades because he did, it was just wasn't his parents style.  Well, they did reward him a couple of times but it was usually an all-inclusive "you've done your chores without being told and you've been nice to your little sister and you got good grades..." kind of thing.

Just like the commercial for Stars, the commercial for Starburst is for the Canadian version and this time HERC found a complete track listing and he's gonna do a BONUS playlist just like the last time.  But first, two of HERC's favorite tracks from the album, the only two that aren't yet on Spotify:

Sanford Townsend Band released three albums while they were together - the latter two are on Spotify but not this track which is on their self-titled debut album.  John Townsend has a live solo version but it's just not the same.  HERC digs the relaxed Southern Rock/California Rock hybrid and Townsend's vocals.

This record has the same sound and vibe as "Smoke From A Distant Fire" - but a slower pace - to HERC's ears and he often plays them as part of a playlist that also includes Exile's "Kiss You All Over" and Starbuck's "Moonlight Feels Right" among others.  The playlist is perfect for chillin' by the water, watching the sun fall down.  Toby Beau is the band's name (although guitarist Balde Silva now uses it as his stage name after the original band broke up) and they were originally from Texas just like HERC.

Starlite [1983]
Featuring "14 Original Hits From The Lighter Side Of Today's Music", Starlite features one of Mrs. HERC's all-time favorite songs: "Eye In The Sky" by The Alan Parsons Project.  There are several tracks (below) that rank high on the list HERC's favorites, too.  Spotify lacks three of the fourteen tracks but it's still a cohesive listen.

It's jazzy, sure, but there's something else about this song.  It's a great driving song with it's chugging bassline but also the piano riding on the top.  Fun to sing, too.  Joe Jackson's catalog contains many nuggets for the exploring listener.  HERC suggests Look Sharp!, Night And Day (which contains "Steppin' Out") and Body and Soul.

Martha Davis, the voice of The Motels, has a well-seasoned sound, smokey yet vulnerable.  HERC discovered the album All Four One while sitting behind Elvia O. in college algebra.  She was listening to it constantly on her Walkman and one day slipped the headphones back to HERC so he could partake.  Later that week, he bought his own copy and has since purchased it on CD in an expanded version.  The other single released from the album was the clever "Take The L" with it's line "Take The L out of lover and it's over".  Brilliant!

When HERC's family relocated from the Midwest to the Southwest, HERC purchased three cassettes to listen to during the trip: Private Eyes by Hall & Oates, Long Distance Voyager by The Moody Blues and Journey's Escape.  While all three were received extensive play during the long uh journey, once HERC's family had arrived at their destination, they were told there was no available housing so they set up at a campground just outside of town.  Over the thirty some days they lived there, Journey's Escape and especially "Don't Stop Believin'" and "Who's Cryin' Now?" became HERC's soundtrack for life in the desert.  There was something about the soaring guitar solos, the yearning vocals and the lyrics of both songs made the situation a little more bearable.  HERC only ever bought three more cassettes, preferring to roll his own and has only gone camping once since then but he still enjoys the Southwest desert and this album.

Starflight [1979]
This one came out in 1979 and features a few disco songs, a couple of harder rock songs, some soft rock and a few pop songs: it's a typical K-Tel compilation.  The only track that Spotify has yet to offer is David Naughton's disco hit "Makin' It".  The cover art is similar to Starlite with the rainbow colors but what catches HERC's eyes every time is the stylized "g" in the title.  The commercial is for the U.S. release this time, though.  But that doesn't mean that HERC didn't uncover the Canadian version, featured in yet a another BONUS playlist below the video.

Star Trackin' 76 - 20 Original Hits 20 Original Artists Ronco 8-track tape
Star Trackin' 76 [1976]
HERC received this album for his birthday one year.  [No , he never had it on 8-track.]  He doesn't think it was in 1976 because it is a cut-out - has a hole punched in one corner - but maybe it was.  Pretty cool MTV foreshadowing cover graphics with the rockin' out spaceman.

The first track is "Theme from S.W.A.T." which HERC has written about in the past.  It is one of five tracks from this Ronco album currently unavailable on Spotify.  So, out of  "20 Original Hits" HERC offers a meager playlist of 15 tracks.  Another track from the album that is missing from Spotify's more than 25 million tracks is featured in the video below:

Superstars [1978]

"ORIGINAL SUPER HITS!"  Notice the Superman style "S" and diamond shield at the beginning of the title?  Maybe that's why they changed the title to Let's Party when it was released in the United Kingdom.

Two tracks from the album can't be found on Spotify as they were originally recorded - "Falling" by LeBlanc & Carr and the song in the video above which HERC is pretty positive he has featured before.

Shining Stars [1978]
Two songs featured on Superstars ("Fallin'" and "Calling Dr. Love") are also on Shining Stars but such redundancy was not uncommon among Ronco or even K-Tel releases.  There are another three artists from Superstars with different tracks on Shining Stars: Eric Carmen, ABBA and Barry Manilow.  To further complicate matters, Ronco often released their compilations under different titles. Shining Stars was also known as Gold Plated.

Star Fire [1980] and Star Time [1979]
The commercial above has the next two albums in it.  Don't know if it was the end of an era or a new promotion but the prices were half-price just a year or more after they came out.  SPOILER ALERT: HERC is planning on featuring Woolco/Woolworth's in a future post about mall stores that no longer exist.

One of HERC's favorite songs EVER is on Star Fire - the sultry sing-along "Hot Summer Nights" by Night.  Formed by guitarist Chris Thompson of Manfred Mann's Earth Band and featuring Stevie Lange, the  future first ex-wife of producer Robert "Mutt" Lange.  The song itself was written and recorded first by Walter Egan, whose biggest song is included on Star Time below.  Egan is credited as a co-writer on Eminem's song "We Made You" - Dr. Dre claims he was inspired by the bassline of "Hot Summer Nights".

Here's that Walter Egan song mentioned above, the glorious "Magnet and Steel".  Produced by Lindsey Buckingham and Richard Dashut, the song easily fits into the Fleetwood Mac vibe and Egan himself has said the song was specifically inspired by Stevie Nicks.  It's also on that playlist HERC mentioned earlier, the one with "My Angel Baby", "Smoke From A Distant Fire", "Kiss You All Over", "Moonight Feels Right" and yes "Hot Summer Nights".  It's a subset of his larger "yacht rock" playlist.

Ronco Presents Star Time

If you've read this far, you're in for a treat...
featuring all the playlists above!

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