Various Artists

Hard Rock Essentials [Trans World]

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Not to be confused with Rebound's enjoyable Hard Rock Essentials series, this similarly-named three-disc set from Trans World translates its title's term loosely, and has little use for effective sequencing. Scandal's "Warrior" falls next to "Cult of Personality" by Living Colour, which is followed by classics from Mountain ("Mississippi Queen") and Argent ("Hold Your Head Up"). None of these songs are bad, but they just don't work very well when squeezed together like this. Similar indiscretions are taken later -- INXS meets Damn Yankees, April Wine's soft-focus "Just Between You and Me" is eaten alive by Twisted Sister and "We're Not Gonna Take It," and Night Ranger is jumped in an alley by Anthrax. Despite these incongruities of sequencing (or miracles of licensing), Hard Rock Essentials is stacked high with well-worn radio favorites from artists as disparate as the Doobie Brothers, Ratt, the Allman Brothers, and Skid Row. At three discs and a budget price, it isn't a bad way for casual listeners to pad their collection. That is, assuming bizarre sequencing isn't a problem.

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