Various Artists

Theodore: An Alternative Music Sampler

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Since Ryko, with Steal This Disc, and Sire, with Just Say Yes, made the multi-artist low-price sampler respectable again (the latter by including rare versions, live tracks, and so forth), every couple of months generally brings forth another example -- Columbia/Epic have another on the market called Hitchhiker Exemplar, for example, which spotlights their country/rock/folk artists.

Theodore is a mixed bag of items ranging from softish rock/hard folk (Kate Bush, the Indigo Girls) to rap, dance, and house music (Public Enemy, Big Audio Dynamite, 3rd Bass) and errs mostly in not really including that much of vast interest -- for the most part, the album includes album tracks, or easily available material such as Kate Bush's "Be Kind to My Mistakes," which was released on Aspects of the Sensual World, a CD5. Highlights include Poi Dog Pondering, who somehow manage to convey the American Southwest by sounding Irish, while O-Positive have a sound that indicates that when the Cure are gone, they won't be forgotten soundwise. 3rd Bass, too, a white rap outfit with a mean lyrical bent and one hell of a rhythm sense, are very impressive, blowing the muddy, unintelligible "Welcome to the Terrordome" by Public Enemy out of the water. The Indigo Girls kick in a nice live track, and Big Audio Dynamite are represented with the royally silly "If I Were John Carpenter," which uses house techniques to generate a long dance piece around whatever they felt like chucking in at the time.

In other words, some hit and some don't, and different tracks will hit with different people.

blue highlight denotes track pick