The Samples

Anthology in Motion, Vol. 1

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This sprawling three-CD collection offers a thoughtful if somewhat idiosyncratic overview of the Samples' 20-year history through 2002, mixing demos, live recordings, and studio highlights with minimal regard to chronology or flow. In doing so, however, it encourages in the listener a great sense of respect for a band whose vision remained idealistic and unchanging over such a long span of time. Sean Kelly and company were in financial and organizational chaos when this compilation was issued independently in 2002; consequently, it received minimal promotion and went unnoticed by the general public, existing instead as a "thank you" to the group's considerable fan base. Which is just as well: Anthology in Motion is a far from ideal introduction to the Samples' work and should not be construed as a "greatest-hits" collection. Several of their better-known and better-received songs, such as "Did You Ever Look So Nice," are omitted altogether, replaced by some unnecessary duplication (live and studio versions of "Radio Song") and a couple embarrassing early-stage demos ("Little Silver Ring," "Ocean of War"). The haphazard jumping between live and studio material is effective, though, for recapturing the attention and memories of people who followed the Samples ardently during their mid-'90s heyday but forgot about them as they got older. Sean Kelly's Thoreau-like ponderings on the merging of the theological, metaphysical, and ecological are consistently engaging, and the simple truths reflected in such songs as "Nothing Lasts for Long" and "Walking in the Snow" warrant repeat visitations. Anthology in Motion would have benefited from better liner note information, such as a discography for new listeners who want to explore the Samples' catalog further, but for all its disservice to non-fans, it's a rewarding recapture of many of their shining moments for those who'd been along for the ride.

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