When I first played this CD I was instantly transported back to 1976/1977, an innocent time of high-unemployment, double-digit inflation, and anomie, all of which made these albums such a giddy escape when I was much younger and not at all concerned about what was "hip" music. You will hear 15 BIG ONES attacked endlessly, but what made it seem like a letdown that Bicentennial summer wasn't the music but the "Brian is Back!" hype. In retrospect, the ablum is perfectly apiece with John Lennon's ROCK N ROLL or Bowie's PIN-UPs, cover albums that invoke the performer's love of the music of his youth. 15 includes do-wop, gospel, Spector, and amusement-park anthems. The originals are self-consciously lightweight, but who---beside the Eagles, for heaven's sake---didn't want to be lightweight in 76? The message can be summed up by Track 2: "It's OK." Not great, but good enough for fun.
LOVE YOU, by contrast, IS great. Go try and find another album less interested in image or self-consciousness ... it doesn't exist. It's a group of goofy, sweet, innocent odes to roller skating, young love, babies, and Johnny Carson (and not necessarily in that order). The compositions, however, are not as simplistic as their lyrics suggest. There are complex chord changes, time registers, doodle-bugging bass lines (most played on a Moog), and melodies galore. The innocence is infectious. Yes, your friends will think you're the squarest of the square when they catch you mouthing the words "Honkin down the gosh darn highway" or "Solar system brings us wisdom." But then again, the truly hip and in-the-know don't care if they seem goofy. Buy it, try it, share it with your little kids. They'll make you understand just how fun and sweet it is to love LOVE YOU.