Various Artists

Goth: Music of the Shadows, Vol. 1

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In the 1990s, no label did more to redefine itself than K-Tel -- a company that once epitomized mainstream. The K-Tel of the 1970s was hardly considered daring and cutting-edge; back then, K-Tel was known for assembling collections of Top 40 hits and making sure that suburban housewives could hear all of their favorite Captain & Tennille, Donny & Marie Osmond, Helen Reddy, and America songs on the same LP. But times change; the 1990s found K-Tel getting into everything from gangsta rap and techno to industrial music and thrash metal -- in other words, everything the old K-Tel would have stayed away from. And the new K-Tel didn't come across as a clueless geek who was making an awkward attempt at hipness -- the Minneapolis-based company really did come out with some interesting compilations in the 1990s. It was in 1999 that K-Tel launched its Music of the Shadows series with this excellent goth rock collection. Spanning 1980-1999, Goth: Music of the Shadows, Vol. 1 isn't the last word on goth rock but does paint an attractive picture of the idiom. This CD illustrates the vitality of 1980s goth with classics like the Sisters of Mercy's "Walk Away," Alien Sex Fiend's "Dead and Buried," March Violets' "Snake Dance," Gitane Demone's "Tales of Innocence," and X-Mal Deutschland's "Qual." But thankfully, it doesn't suffer from the delusion that goth died with the 1980s; All About Eve's "Let Me Entertain You," Nosferatu's "The Witching Hour," and Faithful Dawn's "I Am Nothing" are appealing examples of goth in the 1990s. Of course, a song by Bauhaus (which was to goth rock what Charlie Parker was to bebop and James Brown was to funk) is almost obligatory on a goth compilation -- and the CD's oldest track is Bauhaus' "Dark Entries" from 1980. A few of K-Tel's choices are questionable; 45 Grave's "Black Cross," for example, is an exhilarating punk treasure with dark lyrics, but it isn't goth. Nonetheless, this is a fine collection that will please devoted goth collectors as well as those with a more casual interest in the genre.

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