The 10 best K-tel compilation albums of the 1970s

Did you shell out money for Dumb Ditties and Disco Fire?

Images: K-Tel / YouTube

Before there were iPods, we had K-tel. The Canadian company became the king of "As seen on TV" advertising in the 1970s, churning out both gimmicky gizmos (like the Whizbee and Cut-All Super Saw) and budget music compilations. If you're younger and have not heard of K-tel, picture a successful hybrid of the Now That's What I Call Music albums and the guy in commercials who saws a rowboat in half before repairing it with Flex Tape.

The K-tel music compilations were a quick, cheap way to boost your music collection or hear your favorite pop hits on demand. A record could go for $3.99. The commercials were catchy and brilliant. How could you resist spending your cash with ads like this.

K-tel sold countless albums around the world, particularly finding success down under in Australia. We're going to try and stick with the records they sold here in the U.S. Here are ten of our favorite from the golden decade of K-tel. Did you own any of them?

1. 60 Flash-Back Greats Of The Sixties (1972)


By 1972, people were already pining for the good ol' days of the 1960s. Nostalgia works fast, especially for a decade that revolutionized pop culture. This whopping four-LP set featured fistfuls of one-hit-wonders. You might not recognize names like The O'Kaysions, The Stone Poneys or Keith (just "Keith") on paper, but their tunes would ring a bell. This covers everything from bubblegum to psychedelic, with British Invasion and folk in the mix, too.

Top Track: The Shangri-Las - "Remember (Walkin' In The Sand)"

Deepest Cut: Cat Mother And The All-Night Newsboys - "Medley: Good Old Rock 'N Roll"

Image: K-Tel / Discogs

2. Super Bad (1972)


This essential compilation culls the greatest soul and early funk singles of the era. It's loaded with diamonds, both relatively obscure (Timmy Thomas' "Why Can't We Live Together," Honey Cone "Want Ads," Detroit Emeralds "Baby Let Me Take You") and legendary (Isaac Hayes "Theme From Shaft," James Brown "Good Foot, Part One").

Top Track: Main Ingredient - "Everybody Plays The Fool"

Deepest Cut: Timmy Thomas - "Why Can't We Live Together"

Image: K-Tel / Discogs

3. James Last's Super Party Pac (1974)


German jazz man and big band leader James Last shifted gears in the 1970s and began cranking out kitchy muzak. His brassy, snappy cover versions made you feel like a game show contestant or go-go dancer atop a platform on Laugh-In. This is the kind of cheerful cheese you can only find in the 1970s and we eat it up.

Top Track: "Ballad Of John And Yoko"

Deepest Cut: "The Pushbike Song"

Image: K-Tel / Discogs

4. Souled Out (1975)


The massive funk cuts were expected (Kool & The Gang's "Jungle Boogie," Ohio Players' "Skin Tight") but this killer compilation featured some more obscure gems from William DeVaughn, Honey Cone and the Tymes. It perfectly captures the soul scene just before disco began its dominance.

Top Track: William DeVaughn - "Be Thankful For What You Got"

Deepest Cut: The Joneses - "Sugar Pie Guy Part 1"

Image: K-Tel / Discogs

5. 24 Great Truck Drivin' Songs (1976)


The C.B. and trucking craze peaked in the mid-1970s, as every kid dreamed of driving a big rig. There were even entire TV shows devoted to the phenomenon, like Movin' On, which you can stream right here on MeTV.

Top Track: Hank Snow - I've Been Everywhere

Deepest Cut: Lavon Lyle - "Diesel On My Tail"

6. Stars (1977)


It's hard to pin down the theme here, as these songs span multiple genres, and range from hitmakers (Hall & Oates) to more forgotten pan-flashes (Addrisi Brothers). That being said, it's a delightful slice of the state of '77 pop, despite (unsurprisingly) overlooking the punk movement.

Top Track: Daryl Hall & John Oates - "Rich Girl"

Deepest Cut: Stanky Brown Group - "Coal Town"

Image: K-Tel / Discogs

7. 24 Greatest Dumb Ditties (1977)


It's hard to resist a title like Dumb Ditties. While the disco fad certainly helped K-Tel build its name, the label did a sizable business with kids, too, mostly thanks to its novelty collections. There offered stiff competition to Dr. Demento, lumping together ubiqu

Top Track: Dodie Stevens - "Pink Shoelaces"

Deepest Cut: Serendipity Singers - "Beans In My Ears"

Image: K-Tel / Discogs

8. Disco Fire (1978)


When it kicks off with Chic, you know it's going to be a party. From that opening "Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah)" we boogie onward to titanic disco hits (The Trammps "Disco Inferno"), novelty numbers (Meco "Star Wars Title Theme"), deep funk (Brick "Dazz") and forward-looking dancefloor workouts (The Michael Zager Band "Let's All Chant"). It's a blast.

Top Track: Donna Summer - "I Feel Love"

Deepest Cut: Bionic Boogie - "Risky Changes"

Image: K-Tel / Discogs

9. The Stud (1978)


The original soundtrack album to a sex-laded Joan Collins B-movie, The Stud collected some rather glorious Eurodisco for its titillating adaptation of the Jackie Collins novel. You get Spanish duo Baccara's kooky disco tune "Sorry I'm A Lady" and French electro-pioneers Space delivering "Deliverance." There were also some smash hits from K.C. & The Sunshine Band, Rose Royce and Rod Stewart.

Top Track: 10cc - "I'm Not in Love"

Deepest Cut: Space - "Deliverance"

Image: K-Tel / Discogs

10. Starflight (1979)


This eclectic mix ranged from romantic R&B balladry (Maxine Nightingale's "Lead Me On," Peaches & Herb's "Reunited") to rock (Foreigner, Dr. Hook) to quirky pop (M's "Pop Muzik"). The end of the decade was a diverse place.

Top Track: Cheap Trick - "I Want You To Want Me"

Deepest Cut: Bonnie Pointer - "Heaven Must Have Sent You"

Image: K-Tel / Discogs

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Ghosttron 29 months ago
This was one of my favorites!
musicman37 35 months ago
Want Ads and Why Can't We Live Together are hardly obscure - Want Ads was a #1 Pop and R&B hit (and knocked the Rolling Stones' Brown Sugar out of #1), while Why Can't We Live Together was #1 R&B/#3 Pop, and was gorgeously remade in the 80s by a little girl called Sade.
JeffreyDavidCox 38 months ago
My favorite of the compliation albums was actually from Ronco: Star Trackin' 76. A great mix of pop, rock, soul, and even a few Southern rock tunes and a REALLY obscure country song. My favorite K-Tel album was Fantastic, with 22 Explosive Hits, Volume 2 also a second on my list.
dewyduster 45 months ago
I had this lovely compilation on 8-Track.
NeilSoulman 53 months ago
"Soul'd out," has my vote for best 70's "k-tel," soul comp, but you are forgetting probably the best hard rock compilation, the double record set called, "heavy metal," released around '73, one of the best classic rock comp playlists "ever" in my opinion, k-tel outdid themselves on that release. Also this was my first time hearing the phrase "heavy metal," used for the acid-rock/ hard-rock genre, perhaps the moniker originated with the release of that particular set, and mid 70's psyc animation flick that followed?
musicman37 NeilSoulman 35 months ago
"Heavy Metal" wasn't K-tel. It was Warner Special Products. Just because it advertised on TV doesn't mean it was K-tel's. Ronco and Adam VIII Ltd. also touted record albums on TV.
RJOwles 64 months ago
I had Dumb Ditties when I was a kid.
NeilSoulman RJOwles 53 months ago
great novelty comp, had this in my collection also. #ChickaBoom, don't u jst love it?
WILD 64 months ago
My first record was K-Tel album and man it was (1973) Out of Sight. I found a copy for $1.00 a few years back at The Salvation Army thrift store on Notre-Dame here in Montreal. Since then I now have 25 K-Tel albums. My list includes Out of Sight, Goofy Greats, 20 Solid Hits Volume II, 22 Explosive Hits, Fantastic, 24 Great Tear Jerkers, Daffy Dances (w/Chubby Checker on the front cover), Dynamite, Superstars (Double vinyl), Kermit Shafer's Super Bloopers Uncensored volume 1 (2 copies) and volume 2 (1 record), Sounds Spectacular (I had this one too), Hootenany ("K-Tel's Most Exciting Folk Collection Ever!"), Sound Explosion, Today's Super Greats (Triple vinyl set), Power House, Superstars Greatest Hits (2 LP set), Believe in Music, Goofy Greats (2 funky albums), Right On (a classic cover) 100 Super Duper Bloopers (Kermit Shafer; unbleeped), Power Pack, 50 Children's Favorites (with a guy on the cover sitting & reading to 3 girls/2 boys on the grass of a park while he was wearing a Rabbit costume head, white gloves and a tuxedo with tails (not rabbit tail but suit tails) like he was going to the opera). Looking back on it now, he's kind of creepy looking, and last but definately not least Comedy Classics (Carlin, Tomlin, A&C, Rodney, Groucho Flip Wilson, Jose Jimenez, Allen & Rossi, Burns & Allen Redd Foxx, Cosby & Myron Cohen). Those are just what I have on vinyl but I downloaded a K-Tel Torrent a few years ago that has a whole lot more, but I got rid of the disco stuff. When I downloaded these I learned that some of the albums I have and the same ones I downloaded have different tracks, it was then that I figured out that there were U.S. versions and canadian. For instance the U.S. Version of Out of Sight has on side one: Elton John, Kiki Dee, Reunion, First Class, Paper Lace, Fancy, Kool & The Gang, The Tymes, Gladys Knight & The Pips & Carl Douglas; Side Two has BTO, disco Texas, Stealer's Wheel, Prelude, The Hudson Brothers, The Stylistics, Jim Weatherly, Defranco Family, Brownsville Station & The Hues Corporation. The canadian one has on side one: Clapton, Tinker's Moon, Billy Joel, Jim Weatherly, Paper Lace, The Rubettes, The Hollies, Fancy, Dave Loggins & Chilliwack; side two has: Elton John, MFSB, Hudson Brothers, The statistics, Dawn, Gladys Knight, Mac Davis, Stealer's Wheel, Lobo and The Stampeders. I also have a CD version of Out of Sight but it only has 10 tracks on it. Out of those 10 tracks 70% are the same as the U.S. version of the record. The additional artists are (in order) #4 Paul Anka (w/Odia Coates) You're hHaving My Baby, #9 Marvin Hamlisch's The Entertainer Theme from The Sting and #10 Ray Stevens' The Streak
musicman37 WILD 35 months ago
My first Lp was also a K-tel - "20 Explosive Hits" with Venus, In the Summertime, Tracy, Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes), The Letter, O-O-H Child and SO many others.
musicman37 WILD 35 months ago
I now have over 75 of them on vinyl (from the US and all over the world) and a pile as tall as I am on CD (and I'm not a "little Person").
jaydavis 64 months ago
What about K-Tel's Original Gold?
ABBA, Andrea True Connection, and more!
lexbates 64 months ago
My favorite was Block Buster,which I still have!
musicman37 lexbates 35 months ago
One of the great ones.
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