Between his duties as the host of the popular countdown radio show "American Top 40" and voicing the character Shaggy on a new run of "Scooby-Doo" cartoons, Casey Kasem has found time to helm a succes
Between his duties as the host of the popular countdown radio show "American Top 40" and voicing the character Shaggy on a new run of "Scooby-Doo" cartoons, Casey Kasem has found time to helm a successful collection of compilation CDs on the Top Sail Productions label. Each "Casey Kasem Presents America's Top Ten Hits" disc features 20 top-10 hits from the last five decades.
"Over the past two years, we've sold half a million of these CDs," Kasem tells Billboard.com. "They're all over the country, everywhere from Wal-Mart to Borders. And because the songs on these CDs are classic tracks, they have a great shelf life in stores."
The three latest entries in the series are "The 1960's: Motown's Greatest Hits" (featuring classic tracks from the Supremes, the Temptations, Martha and the Vandellas, and Marvin Gaye); "The 1970's: Classic Rock's Greatest Hits" (with hits from Boston, Styx, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and the Electric Light Orchestra); and "The 1980's: New Wave's Greatest Hits" (with songs from the Pretenders, Soft Cell, A Flock Of Seagulls, and ABC).
Kasem collaborates with a staff of music experts on everything from the liner notes to the song selection, even if the track on the CD should be the long album cut (Styx' "Come Sail Away") or the 7-inch single edit (Duran Duran's "The Reflex"). "I have a good team," Kasem says. "My partner Chuck Gullo, the president of Top Sail Productions, worked for many years with A&M Records and Scotti Bros. From my perspective, I choose titles according to what I think is the most popular or representative of an artist's top-10 recordings in that genre."
Not only is the series pleasing fans who grew up with the original 45s of these hits, the CDs have also been snapped up by a new generation that recognizes the songs from the soundtracks of TV shows like "American Dreams" and "That 70's Show." The CD booklets even contain lists of memorable pop culture references, hot TV shows, fleeting fads, and commercial catchphrases.
"I'd like to think that because of my reputation in the business, being around for so long, counting them down for 34 years, and playing all those hit records at one time or another, that it might be a door-opener to getting these songs for these CDs," Kasem says. "The tracks we did pick for this series are very strong."