Picks and Pans Review: Spotlight On...
As plentiful as snowflakes, CD sets aren't always as distinctive. Here are some hits, and a miss.
The Jimi Hendrix Experience Jimi Hendrix (MCA/Experience Hendrix)
The 56 tracks on this brilliant boxed set (mostly unreleased versions of hits) showcase Hendrix in all his psychedelic glory. It also shows—lest there be any doubt—why Hendrix is considered one of the greatest innovators ever to plug in an electric guitar.
1 The Beatles (Capitol/EMI/Apple)
With deft, Oasis-esque compositions, tight 'N Sync-style harmonies and Puffy-like production skills—studio effects are created with musical instruments rather than computer sampling techniques—this Brit pop quartet posted these 27 No. l hits—more even than Mariah!
Hotcakes & Outtakes Little Feat (Warner Archives/Rhino)
With their rich gumbo of New Orleans R&B, funk, and good, ol' time boogie, this quirky California band built a fanatical cult following. These 82 tracks include all the classics, but it's the fourth disc's wildly offbeat outtakes that the faithful will most relish.
Flashback Electric Light Orchestra (Epic/ Legacy)
Long before knob-twiddlers like Trent Reznor pretended to be composers, neglected maestro Jeff Lynne was the composer, singer, lead guitarist and producer of the sonic tsunami known as ELO. This collection is more filling than a quart of Chunky Monkey.
75 Years of the WSM Grand Ole Opry, Vols. One and Two Various Artists (MCA Nashville)
The Grinch stole the Goody's: The headache powder ads, like the live performances by country immortals that the Saturday-night Opry broadcasts have featured since the Hoover Administration, are missing. All but two of 30 tracks on these two misleadingly labeled CDs (sold separately) are studio tracks.
Ken Burns Jazz Various Artists (Sony/Verve)
The extraordinary riches of jazz will finally get their due when Burns (The Civil War) airs his 10-part, 19-hour PBS film in January. This lovingly assembled five-disc companion collection traces the music's sweeping journey from New Orleans to the avant-garde, sensibly dwelling on giants like Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday and Charlie Parker.