Compilation releases cover Yardbirds, Prince and ... summer!

Yardbirds - Ultimate!

Rhino Records has pulled together a two-CD box set covering the complete history of The Yardbirds. Consisting of more than 50 songs, The Yardbirds: Ultimate! is the first collection of the classic Ď60s bandís material to include tracks by all three of the guitarists who rose to individual fame following their membership in the band: Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page. Disc one includes their bluesy side with "Iím A Man," "I Wish You Would," "Iím Not Talking" and "Smokestack Lightning," as well as their pop side with "For Your Love," "Youíre A Better Man Than I," "Evil Hearted You," and "Heart Full Of Soul." There are also instrumentals and live tracks. Disc Two includes "Over Under Sideways Down" and three tracks that feature both Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page on guitar. Original Yardbirds Chris Dreja (guitar) and Jim McCarty (drums) and a newer lineup have signed a deal with guitarist Steve Vaiís label, Favored Nation, to record a new album, which is planned to include a revolving door of famous axe-gods. That recording begins this summer. But in the meantime, for a complete history and sonic survey of The Yardbirds, fans can now pick up The Yardbirds: Ultimate!Ö

Prince - The Very Best OfIn a similar vein, Warner Brothers has sifted through the catalogue of Prince hits to winnow down a lineup of songs for The Very Best of Prince. While Warner released a three-disc The Hits/The B-Sides compilation of Prince material in 1993, this is the first one-disc collection of many of his Warner hits recorded between 1978 Ė1993. A word of warning Ė itís not a complete hits collection. Prince actually charted more than 40 songs in the Top 100 Singles Chart during that period, so this is obviously doesnít include all of his Warner hits. But most of the big ones are here, including his first two Top 20 hits "I Wanna Be Your Lover" and "1999," as well as "Little Red Corvette," "Purple Rain," "I Would Die 4 U," "Raspberry Beret," "Kiss," "Sign ĎOí The Times," "U Got The Look," "Alphabet St.," "Thieves in the Temple" and his latter Warner hits with the New Power Generation, "Gett Off ," "Cream," "Diamonds and Pearls," and "Money Donít Matter 2 Night." Itís an impressive lineup, until you take a look at the Billboard chart listing for Prince and realize that there are several top 10 hits missing ("Delirious," "Pop Life," "I Could Never Take The Place of Your Man," "Batdance," "7") as well as some other big Top 40 charters ("Take Me With You," "Mountains," "Party Man," "The Arms of Orion"). Pull in a couple more tracks that just barely failed to hit Top 40 status from 1978-1993, and you could have easily filled two CDs with all bona fide "hit singles," no filler. Still, for a single CD summary of the hits, it does a fairly good job of representing the purple oneís platinum-studded careerÖ.

Martha Stewart Living: Summer EntertainingMartha Stewart continues her branding relationship with Rhino Records (youíd think K-mart would be enough!) with her third themed compilation disc. This time around, the subject is Martha Stewart Living: Summer Entertaining Ė Songs for Sunny Days and Starry Nights. Itís an eclectic collection spanning decades and genres. Included are k.d. langís "Summerfling," Donovanís "Sunshine Superman," The Young Rascalsí "Grooviní," Paul Simonís "The Coast," Warís "Summer," Dionne Warwickís "Do You Know The Way To San Jose," Marshall Crenshawís "Starless Summer Sky," The Driftersí "Under The Boardwalk," Manhattan Transferís "Soul Food To Go" and Victoria Williamsí "Water To Drink," among others. While it tries to stick with a summer music theme, the roster of artists seems a hit and miss mix at best. Do you think Martha really listens to all this stuff at parties?