Various Artists

First Generation: Virgin 25 Years

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Most people think of Virgin Records as the multinational recording conglomerate that has proven to be one of the giants of the industry in the 1990s. Indeed, that is true. However, like a lot of big dinosaurs, they got their start as one of the most feisty independents of their time. Virgin XXV Years collects a lot of label material that reflects their irreverence and eclecticism, as well as their excellent commercial instincts.

The label got off to a roaring start in the mid-'70s with Mike Oldfield's gigantic hit "Tubular Bells," and somehow the connection with controversial (and very successful) film it was included in, The Exorcist, was a taste of things to come. Along with visionary signings such as the Sex Pistols (their track, "Pretty Vacant," is not as scary as when it came out, but just as good), Phil Collins, Lenny Kravitz, and such hip late-'90s acts as Cracker and Massive Attack, Virgin Records has continued to stay one step ahead of the game, and this collection shows you where it all began, as well as where it's going. The line "build it and they will come" comes close to summing up, but it's more accurate to say "shock them and they will buy." Bravo.

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