Music of the Millennium – Various Artists


[This CD review was first published in Kansai Scene magazine.]

Compilations of these kinds usually get me a bit twitchy.

The idea of taking a relatively wide range of “hits” from the past thirty five years and throwing them together in this way seems like a blatant marketing ploy. However, if you’re like my younger brother and you need to be told what music you like, then this product might be the product for you.

Admittedly, much of the music on this two-set CD is truly memorable and their impact has not diminished significantly over time. It’s difficult to dispute the long term musical importance of John Lennon’s Imagine, Bob Marley’s No woman No Cry, Simon and Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Waters or even U2-s With Or Without You.

These songs can be listened to again and again and do not fail to inspire. They deserve to be included on anything silly enough to supposedly be somehow representative of a thousand year period.

Other quality pop-rock that rightly makes the grade on this disc include David Bowie’s Let’s Dance, Peter Gabriel’s Sledgehammer, Blondie’s Heart of Glass, Phil Collin’s In the Air Tonight and the Bee Gee’s Stayin’ Alive.

However, it has to be very questionable to award, as this collection does, historical merit to tracks like Money For Nothing by Dire Straits. The inclusion of Milenium by Robbie Williams must surely be an in-joke. (I wonder if he’s signed to the Virgin-EMI label which is also responsible for this creation?)

It’s just as appalling to listen to Michael Jackson take a great song like Ain’t No Sunshine and murder it. At this point, you could have strong reasons to doubt the worth of this whole compilation and begin to consider the artists that didn’t make the cut.

There’s no Elvis, Bob Dylan or any rock at all from the 1950’s and this creates gaping holes in the concept of a “millennium” album, making the whole thing smell rather dubious.

It seems just another example of human vanity that we can get all excited about the idea of a change in the millennium when, if you actually think about it, a new millennium begins every second.

The Roman calendar (which among it’s numerous historical blunders, was mistaken about the year of Christ’s birth) was here, in the minds of this record company’s marketing executives, seen as just another chance to seize on a moment in time to put out a new item of merchandise.

“Music of the Millennium” boasts some fine late 20th century pop and rock but it does not accurately reflect the music of the last thousand years any more than my opinion reflects the voice of a generation.

High points: Some genuinely creative and talented people are included.

Low points: A few genuine mediocrities are also included.

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