"These are not the soft rock hits you are looking for..."
Rhino issued the first three volumes in their Billboard Top Soft Rock Hits series on April 15, 1997. In 1970, the Billboard chart that these songs topped was called Easy Listening. Six of the artists on this disc are holdovers from the Sixties.
The number of Sixties veterans decreased on the second volume of the series, devoted to the soft rock hits of 1971. Probably due to licensing, none of the three #1 hits Richard and Karen Carpenter scored that year made this compilation. One of Bread's pair of chart-toppers made the cut but neither of The Fifth Dimension's pair of Number Ones made it onto the disc.
Easily the best disc in the bunch with Michael Jackson's ode to a rat the only weak spot. 1972 was a monster year in soft rock: Don McLean's epic rock history poem "American Pie", the emergence of Roberta Flack, and the sweet return of Rick Nelson. Bread, Three Dog Night, and Ms. Flack all scored two #1 songs each on the Easy Listening chart in 1972.
The second and final flight of releases in the Billboard Soft Rock Hits series came on July 29, 1997. The soft rock hits of 1973 are represented well although the year saw a then-record twenty-five singles reach the top spot. For comparison, here are the number of Number Ones on Billboard's other major singles charts in 1973:
- Hot Soul Singles - 22
- Hot 100 - 27
- Hot Country Singles - 26
For HERC's tastes, this disc starts off strong with six great tracks in a row before flaming out. As the proud product of a redneck father and a hillbilly mother, HERC has always liked "Dueling Banjos".
The final volume in the series shines the soft rock, soft white spotlight on 1974 - the year of HERC's earliest, clearest music memories. He bought his first 45 in 1974 (Ray Stevens' "The Streak") and the first two songs he remembers hearing on the radio as HERC SR. drove his 1968 Chevelle SS 396 around Fort Worth, Texas (Al Wilson's "Show And Tell" and Clint Holmes' "Playground In My Mind")
What are your musical memories from when you were eight years old?
If you failed to snag the five volumes in the series as they were released, Rhino took pity on you and made all five discs available in a special sleeve (pictured at the top of the post). All of the discs and the box set are still readily available although they are no bargain with only ten tracks per disc.