* 1/2 Various artists, "Listen to the...

* 1/2 Various artists, "Listen to the Music: The '70s California Sound," Rhino. The liner notes point out how every era has its centers of ambitious young artists: Greenwich Village for folk singers and Beat poets in the '50s . . . and California for singer-songwriters in the '70s. Sure enough, California was blessed with a remarkable contingent of artists during that decade. Among the most prized: Joni Mitchell, the Eagles, Gram Parsons, Jackson Browne, Linda Ronstadt, John David Souther, Tom Waits and Neil Young. Unfortunately, only Parsons, Ronstadt and Souther are represented here.

Instead of the others cited, they are joined mostly by a group of second- and third-tier writers whose music generally lacked the lasting vision of the truly important ones. --R.H.

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