The Ultimate Collection
is not a hyperbolic title for Hip-O's 18-track collection spanning Gino Vannelli
's hit-making years. Vannelli
first hit the charts in 1974 with "People Gotta Move" and last charted with 1987's "Wild Horses." Counting those two songs, he had ten chart hits -- and all but one of them ("The Longer You Wait," which just barely scraped the Top 100) are on this disc. The collection doesn't follow chronological order, but that turns out not to be a liability, because his music was fairly consistent and therefore flows nicely from era to era. The biggest hits -- 1978's "I Just Wanna Stop" and 1981's "Living Inside Myself" -- hold up the best, revealing themselves as soft-rock classics, but much of this music is pleasingly in the same spirit as those two hits. When Vannelli
rocks a little harder, as on the horse-themed pair "Appaloosa" and "Wild Horses" (where he adopts Elvis mannerisms), the results aren't quite as convincing, but they're not embarrassments, either. Any way you look at it, though, The Ultimate Collection
is exactly what it says it is: the definitive overview of Vannelli
's career. Fans of late-'70s and early-'80s soft rock, traditionally one of the most overlooked eras of pop history, will find this quite enjoyable.