An eclectic, mixed-bag sampler of a bunch of 1970s British pop music from RPM’s stable of compilations and individual artists, RPM Records Sampler: How’s About That Then? featured everything from soul to pop to soft rock.
The first five songs leaned heavily on the soul/R&B side of things, done British style. Doris La Belle’s uptempo “Groovin’ to Roscoe” sounds like a lost ’70s TV theme song to show like Good Times or The Jeffersons. Brit bubblegum pop makes an appearance too, with a previously unreleased version of the Rick Derringer-penned “Teenage Love Affair” by Iron Virgin — and it’s very catchy. Funny name, though. They’re kind of like a blend of Sweet and Rich Kids, if you can imagine that amalgam.
Singer Mike D’Abo turns in a very pop “Miss Me in the Morning” from 1970 that is not too different from some of the latter-day ’60s pop hits he had with Manfred Mann. Tina Charles’ pedestrian “You Can Do Magic,” however, comes across as a very Diana Ross-sounding tune. Leo Sayer gets downright funky on a Little Feat-like tune called “Hold on to My Love” from 1976. Get down with yer bad self, Leo!
The Shadows’ second drummer Brian Bennett offers the synth-heavy “Rockin’ Horse,” sounding something like a fictional TV cop show’s intro. Margo Guryan’s “Yes I Am” is in that very familiar early ’70s singer/songwriter mode, ala Carole King and Laura Nyro, but simply not as good or as memorable as those two. Meanwhile, only in the 1970s would you hear a wimpy song like “Stay at Home Kinda Guy’ by John Howard and Chris Rainbow. This is the type of color-by-numbers pop music that unfortunately found its way onto radio from 1970-75.
That said, RPM did its usual fine job of tastefully compiling an interesting collection with top notch sound and packaging. Was I knocked by the music here? No, it was not always my cup of tea. But that doesn’t mean it’s not an interesting ’70s curio, featuring of a couple of known artists’ early works to go with some complete unknowns.