Time-Life's CLASSIC DRIVE [2004-2006]

For years, Time-Life Music was a global company but the latest parent company Star Vista now operates the brand only in the United States. At its peak in the 2000s, Time-Life Music was releasing amazing anthologies spread across dozens of albums in the UK, Germany, Australia and New Zealand. One of my favorite compilations from that international division of Time-Life was the 2004-2006 series shown in the commercial above. Classic Drive is clearly intended for the European audience with the inclusion of such acts as Chris Rea, Roachford, and Runrig (to name just a few of the R's). Most of the rest of the music is familiar, straight-ahead, no surprises gee-tar rock n roll (of the readily licensed kind) featuring more than a dozen tracks from ZZ Top and nearly as many from the Doobie Brothers. Each album contains 30 songs spread across two discs with tracks from throughout the past six decades. Theoretically, there could be 600 different songs in the series but some songs appear twice. I present to you all twenty volumes of Classic Drive along with my exclusive, highly-biased road-tested ratings:
I don't understand the logic in calling the very first volume of a series The Very Best Of but it wasn't my album to name. But if it was, I would have called it Get Your Motor Runnin' or Head Out On The Highway or Ride Like The Wind or Driver's Seat or...
This one starts off well enough, really good actually, but there are also a handful of songs that you will never hear in The Blueberry. Cruisin' pulls up short of the coveted five car rating and you can blame Lauper and Starship.
I know we're only three albums in but Lonesome Nights is the closest the series has come to recreating a mixtape or two I may have made back in the day. I enjoy driving at night and, for me at least, it requires a different type of song - less loud, less dynamic but not too soft and slow though perhaps more lyrical to keep the brain active - than hauling ass down the interstate in broad daylight.
There's a pattern emerging here: some really great songs, some other songs and then some songs I had to skip because they did not fit my driving music needs. Not saying they are bad songs though some of them get no play here at The Hideaway. They just aren't songs I want to hear while I'm driving.
Disc One of Rock 'N' Ride is nearly all Southern Rock (which I appreciate) but will someone please tell me why Hooters tracks keep appearing on Classic Drive. Ideally, there should be just two. Total. Are Hooters huge in Europe? Are there other countries where Hooters are big? Are you a big Hooters fan? 
It's not perfect - I skipped five tracks - but Back To The 70's is the best album in the Classic Drive series thus far. Though it stands out like a drop-top Caddy among the other muscle cars in the mix, "Pick Up The Pieces" is a great driving song - high energy, loud, brassy - and it sounds great in The Blueberry.
While I enjoy the majority of these songs, a little Sixties music goes a long way when I'm driving. As a collection of good songs I enjoy listening to Back To The 60's comes in just under a four car rating with the full-length Fleetwood Mac freak-out "Oh Well" being my favorite driving track in the bunch. As a collection of driving music, I'd cut that rating in half.
Sunset Boulevard, unfortunately, faltered in the music for driving department. There are but a handful songs here that I did not skip while road-testing. More than any of the other albums thus far, I'd be curious to get a second opinion on this one: Is it as bad a collection of songs for driving as I think?
With an album title like Top Gear, expectations ran high and this album's tracklisting did not disappoint. Sure, Loverboy returns with "Turn Me Loose" for the second time in the series but I don't care because it is most definitely one of my favorite driving songs of all-time.
Too many slow songs, harshing the driving high, here on The Long And Winding Road. Lots of skipping had to be done. Very few of these songs would make my night driving list, either. Again, some of these are songs I listen to regularly - they just don't lend themselves to soundtracking my drives. Thanks to whoever had the bright idea to mount stereo controls on the steering wheel.
Looking at the tracklist of Pole Position before listening to it in the confines of The Blueberry, I wasn't too excited. If I were rating these albums by merely glancing at the songs listed on the back cover, this one would have received a high two car rating. Then I listened. And skipped and listened and skipped, skipped, skipped, skipped and listened. They are few and far between but there are some absolutely great driving songs to be found. "Urgent", "All Fired Up", "Rebel Yell", "Sleeping Bag", "Rockin' Down The Highway" and "Roll With The Changes" are all among my favorite songs to listen to while driving from point A to point B.
As the title suggests, At The Drive-In features songs that have been heard on motion picture soundtracks. This makes for a fun game while listening: naming the films the songs are from with bonus points if you can name more than one movie for any given song. (All movies can easily be verified on IMDb.) Aside from the obvious theme, this one of the least skipped albums in the Classic Drive series. It gets bonus points for including both "Need You Tonight" and "Mediate" though the latter is not credited.
Another collection of love songs and ballads though not many of them are suitable for driving along to. Night Moves doesn't have Seger's track of the same name but it features the second (or third ?) Beatles cover version of the series with Jeff Healey's take on "While My Guitar Gently Weeps". The inclusion of the highly driveable "Life's Been Good" is what earns the album an extra car in its rating.
The Open Road gets off to a great start and then Yes happens. I skipped maybe a third of the tracks but the remaining twenty or so songs are packed with songs for the road with nearly half of them specifically from the Southern Rock genre, including Gregg Allman's magnificent night driving classic "Midnight Rider". That's right, I am so into my driving music I can even distinguish between two versions of the same song: the original Allman Brothers version from Idlewild South is for day driving while Gregg's take from a few years later has a distinctly night time vibe to it.
We have yet another Hooters sighting! I skipped my way through a solid two-thirds of Hot In The City which I listened to at dusk, driving away from a beautiful Arizona sunset with The Blueberry's AC registering a temp of 73 degrees. Though I only listened to ten of these songs, they were ten really good songs to drive to as the day faded into the night. And I like the fact that whoever sequenced this put the Moon Martin song next to the Robert Palmer song which is a cover of a Moon Martin song!
Another collection of Sixties tracks leads off with the great driving song "Gimme Some Lovin'" and I never tire of hearing "Whiter Shade Of Pale" and or "Nights In White Satin" during a long haul under cover of the night. Great driving tracks from Chuck Berry and The Kinks help lift All Through The 60's above its counterpart Back To The 60's. Now I'm excited to hear the second inevitable second compilations of Seventies and Eighties music.

Though the title track was used on a previous album, there were still enough great tracks on Rockin' Down The Highway to make it worth my time. I could easily give it another car in the ratings on any other day. Hadn't noticed if any artist had landed two tracks on an album in the Classic Drive series until this one with two of Alice Cooper's lesser songs. As a bonus, I discovered a new favorite song in the album's final track.
US Highway 70 begins about two hours away from my front door and ends roughly 2500 miles away in North Carolina on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean. While I've yet to drive to entire route, I have driven a few significant portions of it and I can state for the record that maybe half of the tracks on Highway 70 would make the drive with me. The new to me track on this one was Birth Control's "Gamma Ray" which sounds like a glam rock/prog rock hybrid.
Hitchin' A Ride feels like someone started to compile another all Eighties album but couldn't license enough songs. Nevertheless, I really enjoy what's here, especially the Tears For Fears Sgt. Pepper's tribute that is "Sowing The Seeds Of Love" and John Farnham's anthemic "You're The Voice" which feels too short despite its five-minute running time.
Route 66, the final album in the Classic Drive series has a distinct blues vibe to it despite the inclusion of tracks by the Beach Boys, Foreigner, and The Alarm. There are just six tracks I'd include in a driving mix, though, so this one is not going to rate too high.

Or maybe you want to hear it
all in a single 40-hour playlist.

This post originally appeared here on The Hideaway in a much smaller less illustrated format back in 2013. Since then, Discogs user 1musikfreund has graciously shared scans of his collection as has this site. Both have also provided valued insight and details into other Time-Life collections from outside the United States for possible future publication here on The Hideaway.
(The complete list of songs from Classic Drive, sorted by artist, can be found HERE)


  1. My suggestion (taken from the listed tunes):

    Disc One
    1. Ride Like the Wind - C. Cross
    2. Rock N Me - S. Miller Band
    3. Driver's Seat - Sniff/Tears
    4. Don't Stop - F. Mac
    5. Jessica - Allman Bros.
    6. Sharp Dressed Man - ZZ Top
    7. Everybody Wants to Rule the World - T4F
    8. Take Me Home Tonight - E. Money
    9. Turn Me Loose - Loverboy
    10. Hold On Loosely - 38 Special
    11. La Grange - ZZ Top
    12. Peace of Mind - Boston
    13. How Long - Ace
    14. China Grove - Doobies
    15. Mr. Blue Sky - ELO

    Disc Two:
    1. Lido Shuffle - Boz Scaggs
    2. Magic Carpet Ride - Steppenwolf
    3. Rebel Yell - Billy Idol
    4. True Faith - New Order
    5. Roam - B-52's
    6. It's My Life - Talk Talk
    7. Baker Street - G. Rafferty
    8. Midnight Rider - G. Allman
    9. Tom Sawyer - Rush
    10. Gimme Some Lovin' - S. Davis Group
    11. House is Rockin' - SRV
    12. Woman from Tokyo - Deep Purple
    13. Feels Like the First Time - Foreigner
    14. My Sharona - The Knack
    15. Hot in the City - Billy Idol

    1. Really like your cherry-picked selection, right up to the final track at least. While I've always enjoyed most of Billy Idol's songs, "Hot In The City" has never appealed to me, not even when the local stations play the special edit where Idol shouts Tucson! instead of New York! around the 2:45 mark.

  2. Man, that's a lot of albums in a series. So much music there - as you said some great, some good, some eh.

    1. Like I said, you take the good, you take the bad, you take all 20 volumes of Classic Drive with you on a road trip and you can count on skipping more than a few dozen tracks.

      Clearly not intended for us Yanks.