Packaging-wise and title-wise, the Rhino label's Hip Hop: The Collection is as generic as they come, but after that, all complaints are minimal. Get it at the right price, and it doesn't even matter that the theme is mega-broad and that the T.I. hit isn't one everyone knows, because when a collection goes from Afrika Bambaataa's seminal electro-rap "Planet Rock… Don't Stop" to Missy Elliot's "Get Ur Freak On" with barely any filler in the middle, the freak is on and the planet is certainly rocked. The set jumps time periods at will, and yet the sequencing works, so consider it a time capsule or a portable party, because it's both.
All eight of the albums Wes Montgomery issued on Verve in the mid-'60s (including the two he did with organist Jimmy Smith) are on this limited-edition, five-CD box set. With the addition of 20 bonus tracks (none previously unreleased, some of them alternate takes or overdubbed versions) and a 76-page booklet that includes readable reproductions of the original LP sleeves, it's the definitive compilation of his work for the label. By its very size, of course, its appeal might be limited to completists and serious collectors.
Following an unsatisfying three-year stint at Mercury Records, Chuck Berry returned home to Chess in 1969, just like Phil Chess predicted. Heading home didn’t necessarily mean retreating, as the four-disc Have Mercy: His Complete Chess Recordings 1969-1974 illustrates. During his time at Mercury, Chuck followed the kids wherever they went, aligning himself with the psychedelic ‘60s in a way none of his peers did. This shift is immediately apparent on “Tulane,” the very first song he cut upon his return to Chess. An ode to a couple of kids who dealt dope underneath the counter of a novelty shop, “Tulane” puts Chuck on the side of the counterculture, and over the next five years, he never strayed back to the other side of the fence, often singing about getting stoned, dabbling with a wah-wah pedal, rhapsodizing about rock festivals, cheerfully telling smutty jokes.
2012 two CD collection devoted to the works of Motown session keyboardist (and Funk Brother extraordinaire) Earl Van Dyke. Originally, some of the Hitsville studio musicians would be ''allowed'' to cut soulful Blues and Jazz tracks for the company's Workshop Jazz label, as long as they handled the regular gig, cutting hits on the Hitsville U.S.A. assembly line. By 1964, however, Workshop Jazz was dead. Motown made good on their promise, somewhat, giving Earl Van Dyke a rare opportunity in the spotlight by issuing in his name a single and a subsequent LP, That Motown Sound. Earl's artistic disappointment belies the gems contained within those vocal-less Motown hits and the additional bonus tracks from Motown's vaults that comprise Disc One of this set. Additional previously unheard nuggets can be found amongst the bonus tracks on Disc Two.
Gustav Holst's "The Planets" is a brilliant portrayal of the other celestial bodies outside of Earth (except for Pluto because it wasn't discovered back when Holst composed this). Mars is violent and in a military march form. Parts of it have the brassy dominating sound resembling that of Darth Vader's theme. Venus sounds like something out of a black-and-white romantic movie, high lush strings, celesta, french horn and all, a personal favorite. Mercury is a very playful sounding piece, strong emphasis on the woodwinds and strings. Jupiter is definately my favorite…