Liner Note Author: Joe Marchese.
Greatest hits albums are a big thing for Air Supply. Their first, 1983's Greatest Hits, is their biggest seller in the United States, earning five platinum certifications within its first decade of release, after which it was continually replaced by collections both considered and sloppy. All of which is to say, Real Gone Music's 2016 The Columbia & Arista Years: The Definitive Collection has some stiff competitors for the title of definitive Air Supply compilation, but this physical rendition of the 2014 digital release The Essential Air Supply does offer an overview of the soft rock duo's prime that's thorough in a way its predecessors aren't. Much of this is due to sheer length: at 30 tracks and two CDs, it's nearly a third longer than the previous standard bearer, 2003's Ultimate Air Supply (and it doesn't replicate all of that disc's songs, either, cutting away four tracks most fans won't miss). Whether this is an asset or not is a matter of taste. Many listeners will be content with that original 1983 Greatest Hits, which misses the mid-'80s adult contemporary hits "Just as I Am," "The Power of Love (You Are My Lady)," and "Lonely Is the Night," but otherwise has all the staples ("Lost in Love," "All Out of Love," "Every Woman in the World," "The One That You Love," "Here I Am," "Sweet Dreams," "Even the Nights Are Better," and "Making Love Out of Nothing at All"). This digs deeper in both directions, containing the early Australian hits "Love and Other Bruises" and "Empty Pages," extending all the way to 1987, concluding with "Love Is All" from The Christmas Album. Serious fans will appreciate this deep dive -- it's sharply selected and sequenced, not to mention well-annotated -- but it's too much for listeners who love those eight big songs and nothing else. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine