Now That’s What I Call the 1990s focuses on the decade’s second half, splitting its time between pop songs and the alternative music that followed in grunge’s footsteps. Pearl Jam and other hard-edged bands are absent from this compilation; instead, slicker groups like Live (“I Alone”) and Collective Soul (“Shine”) represent the wave of mainstream rock that swept through the Clinton era, with Everclear (“Father of Mine”) and Sublime (“What I Got”) thrown in for good measure. Des’ree’s “You Gotta Be” and New Radicals’ “You Get What You Give” help anchor the album’s pop side, while the inclusion of Edwin McCain’s “I’ll Be” is a reminder that the decade also spawned many an omnipresent wedding song. Ignoring grunge, Euro-dance, and teen pop makes this a narrow-minded compilation, but for those who like the aforementioned songs, Now That's What I Call the 1990s is an easy way to get them all in one place.
Until the End of the World is a definite contender for best motion picture soundtrack of the 1990s. With a lineup that includes Talking Heads, Lou Reed, R.E.M., Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Depeche Mode, U2, and others all providing original songs or new covers, it's an absolute joy. Interspersed with Graeme Revell's haunting ambient score, virtually every pop/rock track works perfectly as part of a cohesive whole. "Sax and Violins," recorded during the dying days of Talking Heads, might be the band's most confident moment, as a jazzy background shuffle and keyboards provide compelling momentum underneath David Byrne's sarcastic vocals. Crime & the City Solution could have made an entire career out of the emotional yet existential "The Adversary." R.E.M. and Depeche Mode both contribute touching ballads. "Fretless" is one of the most beautiful tracks to be found in R.E.M.'s discography, documenting a wounded relationship with subtle grace. "Death's Door" is one of those sad numbers Depeche Mode fans have grown to love, with Martin Gore handling the vocals.
'… brimful with alert character and beauty whilst the two piano pieces are delightful in their raucous melodies … briliantly done by Tanyel' (Classical Net Review). It was brave and useful and laudable of Seta Tanyel and the now-defunct label Collins Classics to have embarked, in the 1990s, in a thorough exploration of the music of Xaver Scharwenka (1850-1924), and one must be grateful to Hyperion to have reissued almost all of it. The 4-volume traversal of his solo piano music doesn't embrace I think Scharwenka's complete piano output, but it is still very substantial. Add to that the three first piano concertos (apparently Collins didn't live long enough to record the Fourth, and the first is the one disc that Hyperion did not reissue, Piano Concerto 1, obviously because they already had another one in their catalog, Rubinstein: Piano Concerto No. 4; Scharwenka: Piano Concerto No. 1) and what I think was the complete chamber music. However, I didn't always feel that the results lived up to the project's promises.
Even though it relies heavily on film scorer John Barry's by-now formulaic (if no less effective) methodology of fusing his distinctively luxuriant string arrangements with the music of whatever time or locale the score sets out to evoke (in this case, largely the Hollywood of the 1910s and '20s), the composer triumphed once again, garnering his second Academy Award nomination of the 1990s. Perhaps because of the years he spent dues-paying with English pop and jazz combos, Barry gets inside this period jazz and ragtime with both enthusiasm and, more importantly, taste, recalling similar effective efforts on Francis Coppola's The Cotton Club.