Various Artists

Masters of Rock

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It's difficult to discern the purpose behind Masters of Rock, a three-CD, 49-track set that seems designed for classic rock and AOR fans in that it showcases material from such artists as Steppenwolf, Hawkwind, Judas Priest, Uriah Heep, Motorhead, Alice Cooper, UFO, Mott the Hoople, Nazareth, Pat Travers, Lynyrd Skynyrd, David Bowie, Humble Pie, Fleetwood Mac, and Blue Oyster Cult. However, of those artists, only Steppenwolf ("Born to Be Wild") is really represented by their best work; the rest of the songs are comparatively obscure and not always done in each artist's prime period of creativity. In addition to the song selection, each disc is sort of a study in musical incoherence: Disc One features Steppenwolf and Hawkwind next to NWOBHM artists like Saxon and Judas Priest, mixed in with folky Irish rockers Lindisfarne. Disc Two has Jonathan Richman's proto-punk classic "Road Runner" back to back with Voivod's "Fix My Heart"; Disc Three has David Bowie's pre-popularity relic "I Dig Everything," plus Bonnie Tyler and a closing track by certified rock weirdo Captain Beefheart ("Mirror Man"). Mixed in with all of this are a preponderance of tracks by bands that were never well known to begin with, many because they never quite broke out of a generic AOR formula. Classic rock collectors may want to investigate the set for just some of these reasons -- perhaps plugging gaps in the more popular artists' discographies, or to sample a generous quantity of lesser-knowns -- but for all but the most obsessive, Masters of Rock is thoroughly unnecessary.

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