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Legacy Recordings


Label history

Legacy Recordings is Sony Music Entertainment's catalog division. It was founded in 1990 by CBS Records (renamed Sony Music in 1991) under the leadership of Jerry Shulman, Richard Bauer, Gary Pacheco and Amy Herot (then the Marketing Development Department) to handle reissues of recordings from the vast catalogues of Columbia Records, Epic Records and associated labels. The division now additionally handles the archives of Sony Music owned RCA Records, J Records, Windham Hill, Arista, LaFace, Jive, Buddah Records, Philadelphia International Records, as well as RCA Nashville. It also handles the catalog of recordings produced by Phil Spector.

This is not to be confused with the defunct British independent label Legacy Records.

Playlist (also known as Playlist: The Very Best of ) is a series of single disc compilation albums based on artists' best studio work issued by Sony BMG labels: Columbia Records and Legacy Recordings. A spinoff series, Setlist, features compilations of artist's live performances. The vast majority of artists are currently, or at some point in their careers, on the Legacy label. Other artists are on other Sony labels, such as Brooks & Dunn, who are signed onto Arista Nashville. In some cases, the albums only include content from the time period when the artist was signed onto Sony. For example, Playlist: The Very Best of Mariah Carey only includes material from 1990-1999 even though by the time the album was released in 2010, Carey had released five more albums on other labels. In general, the content "focus on the work the artists have done for labels that fall under the Sony/BMG umbrella". The albums come in a special Eco-packet, and to save paper, a PDF file is included on the disc, containing the song credits, photographs, and liner notes. In a review of Playlist: The Very Best of Melissa Manchester, Wesley Britton of Seattlepi explains that the Playlist album "is clearly not intended to be a 'Greatest Hits' collection or a comprehensive overview of her career", and describes it as "a budget-priced assortment of 14 songs most Manchester fans likely already have few rarities". The songs are sometimes "personally selected" by the artist.

DesignnTrend said that Playlist: The Very Best of Destiny's Child, the girl group's first compilation album, is "the most successful in the 's popular "Playlist' series". The album, which was released in October 2012, "celebrat the 15th Anniversary of the group's #1 debut single from 1997, the 14-track career-spanning 'playlist' includ all five of the group's Billboard #1 pop and #1 R&B hits". said: "the highest ranking 'Playlist' album is Destiny's Child's Playlist: The Very Best of Destiny's Child....".

In a review of Playlist: The Very Best of Lou Reed, John Metzger of The Music Box stated that "like its predecessors, the collection’s hour-long running time hardly does justice to its subject". It criticised the inclusion of only 13 songs from a 12-year span of time, and the focus of those picks (for example including no picks from The Blue Mask, which the review implies is a good album). It also criticised the Playlist series for "present its chronological order" which, due to the "limited scope" of the album, results in a weak "narrative flow". Metzger noted that "such an approach might have made sense for a comprehensive retrospective package that was designed to highlight the arc of Reed’s career", something which he says the Playlist series is not. The review concluded by saying that while the album was sufficient for new listeners, it "fail to find a fresh perspective for reevaluating work".

The Setlist series, according to Glen Boyd of Seattlepi, "includes concert compilations from a variety of top-selling artists from the Sony and RCA catalogs, ranging from classic rock and metal acts like Kansas, Quiet Riot, Judas Priest and Ted Nugent, to country artists like Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash and Alabama." He says the series "in theory at least...seemed like a pretty good idea", due to Legacy's track record with that kind of repackaged release. However, based on his experience with the Cheap Trick and Jefferson Airplane Setlist albums (the only available albums in the then-"just-issued new batch of live recordings from Sony/Legacy"), he said "everything about this series seems closer to the sort of 'Special Products' offerings that wind up in cut-out and overstock bins and on late night TV commercials than the sort of consideration you normally expect from Legacy Recordings". He said he was irritated with the "cheap, non-user-friendly CD sleeves that are prone to scratches" masquerading as eco-friendly. He was disappointed that they had "minimal artwork and liner notes". He adds that " seem to be very hastily thrown together collections with very little real care or thought behind them", and argues that if all the material has already been released on other albums (as is the case with the Cheap Trick album), he questions their existence. He finished his review by saying: "calling either release the "Very Best Of" just false advertising."

Writing on Allmusic about Setlist: The Very Best of New Riders of the Purple Sage Live, Al Campbell said, "New Riders of the Purple Sage collectors will be pleased with the unreleased material, but the casual listener should first check out the band's self-titled debut album on Columbia."

The Playlist website explains that instead of just "collecting the hits" and releasing them in a greatest hits-type album, the series instead compiles "key tracks, whether a chart-topping smash or a hidden rarity" to give the listener a more profound understanding of the artist and their career. By balancing "familiar favorites with deeper more revelatory selections", the series is able to cater equally to both those who are being introduced to an artist, and those who are simply being reacquainted. The albums cover a vast range of genres including rock, pop, country and jazz. In considering the 21st century music fan, the Playlist series have packaged all their produce in "100% recycled and recyclable eco-friendly no plastic digi-paks".

Notable Legacy Recordings artists include, but are not limited to:

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