Electronic music is often the red-headed stepson when it comes to awards and recognition such as the Grammys. The rare exceptions include Vangelis' body of work, the avant-garde soundtrack for The Forbidden Planet by Louis & Bebe Barron, and some of the Canadian electronic artists. Tangerine Dream changed all that in the mid-'90s when the group received five nominations for Grammy Awards in the new age category. Miramar has packaged them in one "brick" and released it as The Grammy Nominated Albums. The discs are, in order of original release, Canyon Dreams, Rockoon, 220 Volt Live, Turn of the Tides, and Tyranny of Beauty. The set represents some of the Dream's more interesting work. Canyon Dreams is the soundtrack to a video of the same name. It was conceived and created in 1987 by Edgar Froese, Christopher Franke, and Paul Haslinger. The CD version includes a bonus track -- "Canyon Dreams" -- composed by Jerome Froese (Edgar's son). This is one of TD's slickest albums. It is full of catchy hooks and breathy flutes. The music has bounce and it grabs listeners and holds their attention. It is unmistakably Tangerine Dream. It also shows some very mature composition and sound design skills. Rockoon, from 1992, is a set of very cool electro-pop compositions. It is more than synth pop and less than electronica. Edgar Froese composed all of the pieces. Jerome Froese had become a full-fledged member by then, as Tangerine Dream had evolved into a father/son duo with guest performers. Froese Sr. displays his pop music artistry on this disc. The hooks and lines are pure TD. It is an enjoyable disc with no depth.
220 Volt Live is from Tangerine Dream's 1992 North American tour. It features Edgar and Jerome Froese on keyboards and guitars with frequent guests Linda Spa on sax and keyboards and Zlatko Perica on guitars. The absolute highlight of this disc, and one of the all-time TD greats, is the first encore -- a smoking rendition of the Jimi Hendrix classic "Purple Haze." The guitar work, presumably by all three guitarists, is awesome. The programmed drum sequences are tight with the guitar riffs. Turn of the Tides begins with one of the coolest versions ever of Mussorgsky's "Promenade" from "Pictures at an Exhibition." The arrangement, by Edgar and Jerome Froese, incorporates nature samples (a thunderstorm) and a horse-drawn carriage to enhance the intrinsic beauty of this piece. There are no breaks as this tale unfolds. It is the soundtrack to a short story by Froese Sr. The sound design is damn near perfect as the suspense ebbs and flows. Perica's guitar handiwork is smooth and enhances the electronics and the sax and horn arrangements by Spa. This is one of the best TD CDs of the '90s. Tyranny of Beauty is a familiar album. It has everything that makes a Tangerine Dream album a Tangerine Dream album -- bold synth washes, dynamic sequences, catchy hooks, and familiar phrases. The highlight is an updated version of a TD classic -- "Stratosfear 95." The transcription of Handel's "Largo" is also quite effective and relaxing. As a duo, Edgar and Jerome Froese had become a major musical force. This box, a rare commodity, is the best introduction to the work of the Tangerine Dream duo of Edgar and Jerome Froese. It also represents the introduction of steady guests -- Linda Spa and Zlatko Perica -- to enhance the classic TD sound.