Various Artists

Oh What a Feeling: A Vital Collection of Canadian Music

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The set's chief programmer (and Canadian Billboard magazine correspondent) Larry Leblanc takes an approach sure to be refreshing to some, annoying to others: rather than sequence tracks chronologically or stylistically, the 77 selections are dabbed abstractly over the four discs based on musical and lyrical flows. Leblanc's accomplished a Herculean task in objectively sampling the best domestic, mainstream chart fare of three decades, from Leonard Cohen's "Suzanne" (1968) to Alanis Morissette's recently sizzling "You Oughta Know." In between, blue-bloods Neil Young, Gordon Lightfoot, Bruce Cockburn, Anne Murray, Brian Adams, and Rush weave among pop-hit flashes Motherlode, Mashmakhan, and Edward Bear; rockers BTO, April Wine, and the Tragically Hip; new-wave wonders Rough Trade and Martha & the Muffins; and more recent sophisticates k.d. lang, Sarah McLachlan, Crash Test Dummies, and Cowboy Junkies. Of course, it would have taken at least two more discs to keep everyone happy and plug the many glaring gaps. Have fun with your friends spotting your favorite omission. For easy points, start with country and Francophone catagories. Another sore spot lies in the skimpy space allotted for Leblanc's very general, cursory liner notes -- this set deserved a proper booklet and comprehensive essay. Proceeds go to two worthwhile charities, Safehaven and Starlight Foundation Canada.

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