Various Artists

Open All Night: On the Road

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This installment of Rhino's Open All Night series makes it explicit that the 18 songs are designed for driving -- even though that was pretty much understood to be the intent of the other volumes of Open All Night. This time, there are some songs that explicitly address the road (Little Village's rather irritating "Don't Think About Her When You're Trying to Drive") or the night (Willard Grant Conspiracy's "Another Lonely Night," Alejandro Escovedo's "Pissed off 2 AM"), or songs that just sound really, really good while driving down lonely roads in the middle of the night (Robbie Robertson's "Somewhere Down the Crazy River," Crowded House's "Into Temptation," Grant Lee Buffalo's "Mockingbirds," and pretty much the entire rest of the album). This is undoubtedly mood music, with the prose liner notes fitting the approach of the entire album, and what makes it work is that the selections of artists and songs fit the mood, without much regard for whether they've been hits or not (sure, "Mockingbirds" and Uncle Tupelo's "Slate" are among the very best songs the artists ever did, but these are cult bands and only the hardcore will recognize these as popular favorites). It's not for everybody, but it does make perfect mood music, and it is indeed an excellent choice for late nights on the road.

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