Reviews > Notable CDs

Best albums

Notable CDs | The Top 5 CDsfor the week ending July 25, 2002, according the CDNow chart

1. Dirty Vegas

7 weeks on chart

STYLE Electronica, acid house, modern disco-what Ecstasy addicts are said to enjoy dancing to all night.

OBJECTIONABLE MATERIAL None.

WORLDVIEW "There must be a better way / There must be a way to change ... Never know what the future will bring / Leave the past 'cos it don't mean a thing."

OVERALL QUALITY Unremarkable; mechanized monotony relieved only by an unannounced Pink Floyd cover at the end.

2. Ultimate Manilow

25 weeks on chart

STYLE Romantic '70s-'80s pop.

OBJECTIONABLE MATERIAL None.

WORLDVIEW "The universal message of Barry's music has always been to inspire ... to uplift ... and to make it through. For so many of us, it has done just that. And if, in our own small way, we can assist in conveying that message, then perhaps now, more than ever, is the time we should walk that path even stronger" (from barrymanilow.com).

OVERALL QUALITY Guilty pleasure.

3. C'Mon C'Mon

14 weeks on chart

STYLE Catchy pop-rock.

OBJECTIONABLE MATERIAL "Steve McQueen" (profanity); the CD booklet's swimsuit-issue-like photos.

WORLDVIEW As they push past 40, even girls who used to want nothing more than to have some fun begin longing for a love that will last.

OVERALL QUALITY Fair; Miss Crow's knack for writing songs that will sound good on the radio is evident on at least half-a-dozen tracks.

4. Brushfire Fairytales

24 weeks on chart

STYLE An easy-going, soft-rock, modern-pop, folk-blues mix.

OBJECTIONABLE MATERIAL None.

WORLDVIEW "Well Plato's cave is full of freaks / Demanding refunds for the things they've seen / I wish they could believe / In all the things that never made the screen / And just slow down everyone / You're moving too fast."

OVERALL QUALITY Soothing, even lulling, with philosophizing to match; "Posters," however, demands-and rewards-attention.

5. Ultimate Collection

6 weeks on chart

STYLE The third most influential and popular British rock group of the '60s and '70s.

OBJECTIONABLE MATERIAL "Who Are You" (obscenity), "Squeeze Box" (double entendres), "Pictures of Lily" (the pictures being pornographic)

WORLDVIEW "Only love / Can bring the rain / That makes you yearn to the sky / ... Love reign oe'r me."

OVERALL QUALITY Less consistently impressive than the group's single-disc compilations owing to the inclusion of lesser-known tracks.

In the spotlight

What the Beatles did vis-á-vis the Rolling Stones in the '60s-i.e., make embraceable what was otherwise rather prickly-Barry Manilow did vis-á-vis Neil Diamond in the '70s. Like Mr. Diamond, Mr. Manilow represented the last in a line of identifiably Brooklyn composers, combining a Tin Pan Alley-Brill Building knack for hit-making with a Broadway-lite sense of melodrama. Unlike Mr. Diamond, Mr. Manilow made no pretense to Great Art. As the sensitive loner whose emotions overflowed into exuberantly maudlin love songs, he endeared himself to millions who would find disco, punk, heavy metal, rap, and grunge inexpressive of their inner stirrings. That most of these millions now comprise the lowbrow demographic known as "soccer moms" shouldn't demean the art that Ultimate Manilow (Arista/BMG) does, in fact, contain: the mini-musical "Copacabana," the subtly acute "Tryin' to Get the Feeling Again," and "When October Goes," a Johnny Mercer lyric set to music by Mr. Manilow at Mr. Mercer's widow's request.

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