Various Artists

The Coolest Songs in the World, Vol. 5

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With five volumes on the market so far, there seems to be no stopping Little Steven Van Zandt's series of CD collections devoted to music featured on his weekly syndicated radio show, and with each disc Van Zandt pushes the boundaries just a bit further in terms of what the average fan would consider "garage rock." The typical Nehru-and-fuzzbox aficionado might wonder what the Pipettes, the Saints, or Cheap Trick are doing on a collection like this one, but listen to the songs in context and it's clear why they're here -- Van Zandt clearly knows a great single when he hears one, and "Pull Shapes," "Porno Movies," and "If It Takes a Lifetime" all get over on cool melodies, high spirits, and ineffable cool that defies generic classification. Elsewhere, "Hot Girls in Good Moods" by Butch Walker and the Lets Go Out Tonites suggests T. Rex with several extra stacks of amps, the Dollyrots reveal no need for assertiveness training on "Because I'm Awesome," the Launderettes offer practical advice in facing life's dilemmas with "What Would Joan Jett Do?," former Flamin' Groovies vocalist Roy Loney shows he's still got what it takes on "Baby du Jour," the Apers deliver pop-punk with enough hooks for a fisherman's convention in "Almost Summer," and the Hellacopters prove once again they're one of the world's most potent natural resources of rock action on "Nothing Terribly New." In short, if you like rock & roll with heart, soul, guts, and an eye toward what made this stuff worth living your life for once upon a time, Coolest Songs in the World, Vol. 5 will make you smile and dance, and it's even mid-line priced, making it a good buy as well as fine listening.

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