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Classics IV - 1975 The Very Best Of The Classics IV

ARTIST: Classics IV
ALBUM: The Very Best Of The Classics IV
LABEL: United Artists
YEAR: 1975
CD REISSUE: 1988, EMI Records, CDP-7-91472-2


LINEUP: Dennis Yost - lead & background vocals * J.R. Cobb - lead guitar * Dean Daughtry - keyboards * Wally Eaton - rhythm guitar * Joe Wilson - bass * Robert Nix, Kim Venable - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Spooky * 02 Mary, Mary Row Your Boat * 03 Every Day With You Girl * 04 Change Of Heart * 05 Traces * 06 Stormy * 07 24 Hours Of Loneliness * 08 Something I'll Remember * 09 Soul Train * 10 Sunny

The Classics IV conjure up all sorts of memories for this reviewer and the band's biggest hit 'Traces' like The Turtles 'Happy Together' and 'Windy' by The Association never fail, even for a nanosecond to take me back as child in suburban Chicago during the late 60's. Butterfly chairs and patio lanterns, the smell of freshly mowed lawns and riding my bike on seemingly endless summer days are just a few of the Day-Glo memories forever etched in my mind with impenetrable classic AM pop as background music. Now I'm not going to pretend The Classics IV are typical Glory Daze fare but from a historical perspective they are worthy of inclusion here for playing a small role in the Southern rock movement that would blossom just a few short years later.

The Songs
Formed as a cover band by J.R. Cobb and Buddy Buie in Jacksonville, Florida in 1965; much of the original Classics IV and studio line-up who appeared on their biggest singles including Cobb would go on to form The Atlanta Rhythm Section and most of us know their story as one of Southern rock's most commercially successful bands. First up on this bare-bone compilation is one of their biggest and instantly recognizable hits 'Spooky'. While not a Classics IV original it is the most recognizable version and ARS appropriately covered the song in 1979 and was one of that year's biggest hits as well. Smooth as silk, lead vocalist Dennis Yost was more than just an MOR crooner and had a dynamic range with a noticeable Southern-drawl as heard on the swampy 'Mary, Mary Row Your Boat' and while 'Every Day With You Girl' hedges dangerously close to Burt Bacharach, its catchy and a sugar sweet guilty pleasure. The aforementioned 'Traces' is of course is their biggest hit and top of the mellow gold mountain with baroque flute and hooks that once in your head, never leave. 'Stormy' was almost as big a chart-topper and later covered by Santana on 1978's 'Inner Secrets' which I think is the definitive version. I've always thought '24 Hours Of Loneliness' would have made for a great AOR cover tune, beefed up with guitar and keys of course although 'Something I'll Remember' is pure easy listening pap and forgettable as is 'Soul Train'; an almost identical copy of 'Spooky' which is weird frankly and I wonder why they bothered. Closing out with a decent version of the golden classic 'Sunny', this is music from another time, another place and oblivious to the social and political turmoil of the day which is more than likely why The Classics IV were so successful.

In Summary
The early 1970's would see further Classics IV singles and although the hits stopped, Dennis Yost would continue to tour as Dennis Yost & the Classics IV until his death in 2008. With running time of less than a half hour there are more extensive Classics IV comps out there but this is plenty in my opinion, cherry picking the biggest hits for a bit of fun soft rock nostalgia.

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