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Martin Shampaine chuckles as he sees the resurgence of Afros, John Travolta and trolls just keep on keepin' on.

Time-Life Music's 36-year-old VP-marketing is capitalizing on the over-30 crowd's nostalgia for those wacky times with the hit "Sounds of the Seventies" series-available on CD, not eight-track tapes these days.

"There's a universe of people who feel disenfranchised by what's being played on the radio today," he says.

Right on.

Once the Recording Industry Association of America audits "Sounds of the Seventies," Mr. Shampaine expects it to go platinum for selling more than a million copies. Others in the 36-volume CD series may make his mood ring turn a euphoric dark blue by that mark as well, he says. Last year was the series' biggest, with unit sales up 76% over '93.

Inspiration for the series grew out of the popularity of Time-Life's '50s and '60s collections. But "If you look at what came out of the '70s, like `Billy, Don't Be a Hero,' and compare it to what the [Rolling] Stones did in the '60s, you'd think it isn't going to hold up," he says. Surprisingly, "Sounds of the Seventies" surpassed the other two collections.

The two-minute direct-response TV efforts for the "Wacky '70s" disc-including "Billy," "Playground in My Mind" and "Shannon"- and the "Disco" disc each rang up million sellers-the highest response to any Time-Life Music effort, the executive says.

The "Sounds of the Seventies" infomercial, placed by Hawthorne Communications, Fairfield, Iowa, sold the equivalent of 185,000 CD sets, says Mr. Shampaine, known as Time-Life's "King of Infomercials."

"That's the beauty of direct response. Once you see the response, you can keep going with that ad. TV business drives our other businesses," he says, estimating that 60% to 70% of Time-Life Music's sales are generated by TV advertising.

Mr. Shampaine has high hopes for the '80s collection launched late last year, but "We're still a couple of years away from having the nostalgia that the '70s have now."

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