Compilations are highly useful in understanding the works of the inexhaustibly tuneful British composer Henry Purcell (1659-1695). He had a few big hits, like the Funeral Music for Queen Mary (which is included here) and the opera Dido and Aeneas (which isn't). But much of his best music is scattered around in small bits, residing within genres that are rather odd from today's perspective. Purcell spent much of his short adult life as a theater composer, and his incidental music, for example, is filled with perfect miniatures…
Handel's Coronation Anthems were written in 1727 for George II and Queen Caroline, and have been performed at every British coronation since that occasion. Zadok the Priest will be familiar from its use in the film The Madness of King George. Handel's arpeggiated suspensions in the strings build excitement from the outset, but the entrance of the choir and full orchestra is shattering beyond expectations.
Skip Sempé is a world-renowned virtuoso harpsichord player, ensemble conductor, and the founder of the early music group Capriccio Stravagante. He has won acclaim as a solo harpsichord player with a striking control over the often inflexible tone of the instrument and as an authoritative and stylish interpreter of Baroque-era continuo realizations from figured bass.
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.
A Northern soul duo who recorded the single "Lifted" in 1995 but had to wait two years for it to become a hit, the Lighthouse Family was formed in Newcastle by vocalist Tunde Baiyewu and programmer/keyboard player Paul Tucker. Both had been born in London, though Baiyewu lived in Nigeria for ten years before returning to attend college in the north, where he met Tucker. The duo began recording, and though Baiyewu had trepidations about his vocal abilities, they recorded the singles "Ocean Drive" and "Lifted" during 1994-95 for Wild Card Records. Their debut album, also named Ocean Drive, was released in late 1995. It was almost two years later, however, that "Lifted" hit the top of the British charts, as well as those of several other European countries. The duo's second album, Postcards from Heaven, appeared later that year.
A fast, fluid, fun, and out-of-the-box jazz/fusion exploration, Time Crunch features the immense talents of bassist Billy Sheehan (Mr. Big, Talas, David Lee Roth), keyboardist John Novello (Chick Corea, Andy Summers), and drummer Dennis Chambers (George Clinton, Stanley Clarke). Their pedigrees are as impressive as the intricate instrumental odyssey they travel though as Niacin. The triumvirate's fifth outing is full of rich, jazzy, classic-rock-influenced explorations that also have sensual and sonorous sides. Fans of progressive rock will enjoy the covers of King Crimson's moody, ominous "Red" and Jan Hammer's elaborate and memorable "Blue Wind." With the exception of the gentle and reflective "Glow" (which is dedicated to Novello's late wife), the disc's 11 intense and impressive tracks possess a sense of fun and lightness that won't scare off jazz newbies.