The 1974-1975 volume in Time-Life Music's Singers & Songwriters mail order series of double-disc compilations of soft rock popular music reflects the major event of the period, the emergence of John Denver as the country's top pop singles artist, by including two of his major hits, "Annie's Song" and "Sunshine on My Shoulder." (He had another four Top Five singles in the two years, three of which -- "Back Home Again," "I'm Sorry," and "Calypso" -- might have been included also.) Denver's rise was the latest manifestation of the popularity of literate ballads anchored by acoustic guitar playing that had been going on for several years by this point. Though usually romantic, these songs often had a bittersweet undercurrent that reflected the uncertain sexual mores of the time. Phoebe Snow's "Poetry Man" was an ode to an affair with a married man, Melissa Manchester's "Midnight Blue" pleaded for one more night of love in a relationship that clearly was going south, and the Amazing Rhythm Aces' "Third Rate Romance" was a frank description of a barroom pickup leading to a one-night stand. "You Are So Beautiful," Joe Cocker's interpretation of Billy Preston and Bruce Fisher's composition, was full of pain, and Carly Simon's characteristically sober celebration of new love was shot through with memories of earlier heartbreak, though she declared, "I "'Haven't Got Time for the Pain.'" Even Denver's "Annie's Song," which, as annotator Billy Altman notes, was written by Denver during a separation from his wife, had a desperate, pleading tone in its excessive expression of love ("I want to die in your arms"). Clearly, love was not easy in the mid-'70s. Within the context of this album's parameters -- it consists almost entirely of Top Ten hits, most of them written or co-written by the artists, all of them in a musical style not yet widely known as "adult contemporary" -- one can cite a few major omissions. Gordon Lightfoot's "Sundown," Joni Mitchell's "Help Me," the Eagles' "Best of My Love" and "Lyin' Eyes," and Barry Manilow's "Mandy" are all missed, as are other hits by America and Carole King. But given the challenges of licensing popular material, the compilers have done a good job in gathering tracks from all of the major labels, and the album certainly presents a representative sampling of the kind of soft rock music that was coming out of the nation's AM radios in the mid-'70s.