WEEKS ON CHART 6
STYLE Baroque, rock-operatic concept pop.
WORLDVIEW That the history and people of Illinois make as good a template as any for the exploration of the human condition (rapacious capitalism, the Windy City, various not-so-windy cities, UFO sightings, and serial murder ["John Wayne Gacy, Jr."] included).
OVERALL QUALITY Pretentiousness, bombast, and logorrhea that make Pete Townshend look modest but that nevertheless deliver aural thrills and, occasionally, simple beauty.
WEEKS ON CHART 7
STYLE Alternative folk-rock.
WORLDVIEW George W. Bush is an evil moron ("Jet pilot found a way, got a passing grade, / made it to the world stage. / A hemisphere away, death is on display, / the sins that never wash away"); pacifism rules ("Still trying to understand / how another wrong makes a right / . . . no moral face to the endless war").
OVERALL QUALITY The usual tedium that results when hippies get serious.
WEEKS ON CHART 7
STYLE Mellow, primarily acoustic blend of folk, old rock 'n' roll, and soul.
OBJECTIONABLE MATERIAL "Another Velvet Nightmare" (jarring "puke" reference) but not the adultery-elucidating classic "Dark End of the Street," which is admonitorily dramatic and not didactic.
WORLDVIEW That anyone can be a captivating singer with the right combination of famous session musicians.
OVERALL QUALITY High-quality session musicianship annoyingly obscured by non-captivating singing.
WEEKS ON CHART 21
STYLE Slacker-hop electronica buoyed by lively rhythms, shifting aural templates, and engaging if minimalistic melodies.
OBJECTIONABLE MATERIAL Casual cursing ("Hell Yes").
WORLDVIEW "Now hold your hand onto the plow. / Walk your body / till the sun goes down. / What's left of death / is more than fear. / Let dust be dust / and the good Lord near" ("Emergency Exit").
OVERALL QUALITY Lyrics that repay careful attention and music that makes paying attention easy.
WEEKS ON CHART 10
STYLE Playfully rowdy garage punk.
OBJECTIONABLE MATERIAL PG-level lechery ("Forever for Her [Is Over for Me]"); casual cursing ("The Denial Twist").
WORLDVIEW "Women, listen to your mothers. / Don't just succumb to the wishes of your brothers. / Take a step back. Take a look at one another. / You need to know the difference / between a father and a lover" ("Passive Manipulation").
OVERALL QUALITY Unpretentiousness taken to loud and sometimes funny extremes.
The Legend (Columbia/Legacy) effectively concludes what American Recordings' Cash Unearthed box began-namely, the confirmation of Johnny Cash as the most productive and enduring of the American musical giants on Sun Records' Mount Rushmore.
The Legend arranges its cuts thematically. Discs One and Two compile 51 of the Man in Black's best-known jukebox nuggets and introduce three previously unreleased songs, while Disc Three delves into the same public-domain storehouse that Rick Rubin used to re-ignite Mr. Cash's creative flame in the early '90s.
Disc Four makes up for the overfamiliarity of some of its selections by putting together in one place material such as Mr. Cash's 1980 gospel duet with Billy Joe Shaver ("You Can't Beat Jesus Christ"), his biggest Highwaymen hit (Jimmy Webb's "The Highwayman"), and his performance on U2's "The Wanderer" (not only Mr. Cash's sole foray into electronica but also Bono's most eloquent Jesus song ever).