A&M 50: The Anniversary Collection

Various Artists

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A&M 50: The Anniversary Collection Review

by Andy Kellman

A&M 50: The Anniversary Collection is a modest 60-track anthology of Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss' diverse label. Chronologically speaking, it begins with Alpert and his Tijuana Brass' "The Lonely Bull [El Solo Toro]" and concludes with Barry White's "Practice What You Preach," so it could have been released in late 1994, a few years prior to the Polygram-Universal merger that gutted the label. This isn't billed as a definitive compilation. The liner notes refer to it as a "sampling," and it's formatted as such, with each disc of the CD version given a loose theme and some peculiar sequencing, like disc two, aka A Mission to Rock, which features Joe Jackson's not-very-rocking "Steppin' Out" (1982) between Humble Pie's "30 Days in the Hole" (1972) and the Flying Burrito Brothers' "Hot Burrito #1" (1969). More selections come from the '70s than the '60s and '80s combined, while the '90s get something of a short shrift, with neither the Gin Blossoms nor Blues Traveler represented. There's no obvious label aesthetic that runs through all of the music, but the A&M roster did have a singular assortment of critical and popular favorites, from Captain Beefheart (not included) to Carpenters, and from Milton Nascimento to Styx. Mainstream rap excepted, A&M covered every development and radio format in popular music -- including bossa nova, AM pop, folk-rock, singer/songwriter, soft rock, quiet storm, stadium rock, smooth jazz, new wave, and grunge -- with significant contributors. There is no way a generalist A&M overview could have been assembled without appealing to anyone other than a voracious pop music nerd. This certainly does the trick (and retailed for a price significantly lower than a full-price two-disc set). Maybe a second volume will have room for Beefheart, Melvin Van Peebles, the Tubes, the Blue Nile, Double, Intelligent Hoodlum, Swervedriver, and Vesta.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass 02:17 Amazon
2 Sergio Mendes & Brasil '66 / Sergio Mendes 02:39 Amazon
3 We Five 02:36 Amazon
4 Chris Montez 02:41 Amazon
5 Rita Coolidge 04:02 Amazon
6 Burt Bacharach 03:46 Amazon
7 Carpenters 03:42 Amazon
8 Cat Stevens 03:21 Amazon
9 The Human League 03:57 Amazon
10 Captain & Tennille 03:24 Amazon
11 Pablo Cruise 04:19 Amazon
12 Lani Hall 03:32 Amazon
13 Amy Grant 03:59 Amazon
14 Gino Vannelli 03:40 Amazon
15 Suzanne Vega 03:54 Amazon
16 Chris de Burgh 04:17 Amazon
17 Joan Armatrading 04:30 Amazon
18 UB40 03:04 Amazon
19 Joan Baez 04:49 Amazon
20 Herb Alpert 03:53 Amazon
21 Sheryl Crow 04:33 Amazon

Track Listing - Disc 3

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 L.T.D. 04:46 Amazon
2 Sonny Charles & the Checkmates, Ltd. 03:28 Amazon
3 Gato Barbieri 04:15 Amazon
4 The Brothers Johnson 03:33 Amazon
5 Aaron Neville 04:29 Amazon
6 Billy Preston 03:46 Amazon
7 Milton Nascimento 03:51 Amazon
8 Chuck Mangione 03:31 Amazon
9 Bell & James 03:23 Amazon
10 Antônio Carlos Jobim 02:53 Amazon
11 Jeffrey Osborne 04:03 Amazon
12 Paul Desmond 03:53 Amazon
13 Quincy Jones 03:08 Amazon
14 Atlantic Starr 04:25 Amazon
15 Jesse Johnson 04:05 Amazon
16 Stan Getz 04:59 Amazon
17 CeCe Peniston 04:09 Amazon
18 Barry White 03:55 Amazon
19 Herb Alpert / Hugh Masekela 03:40 Amazon
20 Janet Jackson 03:54 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick