This 55-CD set chronicles the remarkable Archiv label, begun in 1947. Devoted mainly to early and Baroque music, the recordings presented here, in facsimiles of their original sleeves (a nice touch), cover the period from Gregorian chant to Beethoven’s Fifth and Sixth symphonies, played on period instruments. There are stops in between for a great deal of Bach, music of the Gothic era, the French Baroque (Mouret, Delalande, Rameau, etc), Gibbons, Handel (Alcina, La Resurrezione, Messiah, Italian cantatas), Telemann, Zelenka, Gabrieli, Desprez, Haydn, LeJeune, and plenty of the usual, as well as unusual, suspects. There’s also a final CD with selections of new releases (more Handel, Cavalli, Gesualdo, Vivaldi).
If you're looking for the roots of alternative rock or obscure college playlist fodder, look elsewhere; this is prime-time '80s pop chart glory, as seen on MTV (over and over and over). Though the songs here cover a breadth of style and genre (if not necessarily substance), there's a remarkable unity of purpose and hook-laden musical accomplishment that's sorely missed. If this collection woefully shortchanges hip-hop, it still underscores a distinctly irony-free era where style admittedly triumphed over substance, as opposed to the '90s, where style caricatured substance.
Authoritative and comprehensive, this 55CD set presents a unique period in human history: a period when brilliant recorded sound on LP & CD, plus radio, TV, film and live all combined to offer huge new opportunities for singers, record labels and producers to expand the audience for classical music.
Swing This, Baby!, Vol. 3 from Beyond is another decent collection featuring '90s and new millennium swing revivalists, with solid tracks from artists such as the New Morty Show, Wolfgang Parker, Hipster Daddy-O & the Handgrenades, the Flying Neutrinos, and more.
By the time the neo-swing craze hits its peak, this compilation will be looked upon as a sensational collection of the swing pioneers. With the likes of Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, the Cherry Poppin' Daddies, and the Royal Crown Revue, Swing This, Baby! is 48 minutes of the kind of upbeat and frenzied dance music that propelled the big-band sound back into mainstream society. The charm of the album, though, is not solely due to the more established names it boasts. While other collections might have loaded the palette with those well-known names, Swing This, Baby limits each of 15 bands to one song apiece.