This four-disc, 73-song survey of six decades of Grammy winners may not contain too many surprises. But like the recent SONY MUSIC 100
YEARS: SOUNDTRACK FOR A CENTURY box, it stands as a fascinating survey of the pop, country, rock, R&B, and jazz titans who have dominated American music since end of the Depression -- from Duke Ellington
to Boyz II Men, Louis Armstrong to Lauryn Hill
, Billie Holiday to Beck
. Beginning in 1938, with Ella Fitzgerald performing "A-Tisket, A-Tasket" with Chick Webb and His Orchestra, and winding up in 1998 with Lauryn Hill's "To Zion," the set runs down a stunning list of huge-selling, life-changing, cultural-moment-defining performances. Heart tuggers -- from George Jones's immortal "He Stopped Loving Her Today" to Celine Dion's immortally sentimental "My Heart Will Go On" -- get big play, as do such enduring novelties as Stan Getz and Astrud Gilberto's "The Girl from Ipanema," the Bee Gees' "Stayin' Alive," and Beck's "Where It's At." But the main point of the songs compiled here is a combination of mass appeal, mainstream innovation, and straight-up musical brilliance that results in "a classic." Simply check out the first ten songs on disc one: "Good Vibrations," "What's Going On," "Respect," "Band on the Run," "Always on My Mind," "Heartbreak Hotel," "I Wanna Dance with Somebody," "Purple Haze," "God Bless the Child," "Take the 'A' Train." Wow. A pop fantasy, indeed.