were bombastic as hell, but as a template for the next wave of hard rock bands, the group did a pretty good job of showing how it’s done, picking just the right song to cover and also writing one or two rock classics like “Smoke on the Water” to give it all credence. This two-disc set collects all the band’s singles and EPs released between 1968 and 1980, and while it thins out considerably toward the end of that run, the quality here is revealing -- this band clearly bridges the British Invasion era with the harder-edged commercial rock era that came later. The huge-sounding “Hush” is here from 1968, along with a hit cover of Neil Diamond
's “Kentucky Woman” from that same year, a startling re-imagining of the Beatles
' “Help” from 1969, the hard-rocking “Black Night” from 1970, the sleek “Lazy” from 1972, and the massive hits “Smoke on the Water” and “Woman from Tokyo” from 1973. That’s when things start to get a little less inspired, but 1976’s sharp “Getting’ Tighter” and a re-recorded version of “The Bird Has Flown” from a 1980 BBC session are both wonderful gems from a band that clearly knew what it was doing, and in the process cleared the road for Black Sabbath
, Led Zeppelin
, and everything that came from that.