The History: Pop Muzik -- The 25th Anniversary

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Multi-instrumentalist and studio wizard Robin Scott is M, and if all you know of his work is the synth pop, new wave hit "Pop Muzik," History: Pop Muzik -- The 25th Anniversary will be quite the surprise. There's guitar, worldbeat, moments much more serene than "Pop Muzik" hinted at, and believe it or not, swear words! The five tracks from M's debut, New York-London-Paris-Munich, give you your fill of "Pop Muzik"'s robotic boogie-woogie, but after that Scott became less fun and more paranoid with something to say. His observations are often too simple (big business = scary, intolerance = bad), but it's all from the overly stylish '80s -- which somehow makes it more forgivable -- and the musical backing is always interesting, elaborate, and well structured. As sour and cold as Scott's mid-period became, the collection does a good job of picking the highlights. Pulling the great "Join the Party" off Official Secrets Act and selecting a totally different batch of songs from Famous Last Words makes this a better selection for Scott aficionados than 1996's Pop Muzik: The Very Best of M, but it sacrifices some of the great pop from the debut. Toward the end of the disc you get a taste of Scott's quirky and breezy work with the female Zulu tribe Shikisha, including the excellent "Spiritualman," which the 1996 collection passed on. Liner notes from Scott himself are nice to have but the lack of track-by-track info makes it hard to figure out what comes from what album. CDs can only hold so much, and enigmatic artists make compiling difficult. History: Pop Muzik had to sacrifice some of the gloss but two excellent compilations with very different track lists show there's enough substance to Scott to warrant buying this well-chosen overview along with M's poptacular debut.

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