February 17, 1998
Pop/Rock, Funk, Rock & Roll, Hard Rock, Folk-Rock, Early R&B, Prog-Rock, Adult Alternative Pop/Rock, British Blues, Alternative/Indie Rock, Contemporary Pop/Rock, Heavy Metal, Pop-Soul, Disco, Blues-Rock, Singer/Songwriter, Soft Rock, Adult Contemporary, Psychedelic, British Psychedelia, Southern Soul, Deep Soul, Regional Blues, Soul, Urban, Album Rock

Album Review

Adequately covering the rich legacy of Atlantic Records' first 50 years over only two CDs is an impossible task, even concentrating only on rock and R&B, so it would be difficult to expect Atlantic Records 50 Years: Gold Anniversary to offer anything more than a cursory overview. The compilation does illustrate the incredible depth and diversity of talent that the label has maintained over the years, even if it doesn't come anywhere near a coherent presentation of that talent. Instead, 50 Years skims a sampling of some of the best and best-known songs from throughout the company's history. The first disc concentrates primarily on Atlantic's rich catalog of R&B and soul music from the '50s and '60s (a greater portion of which easily filled a hugely entertaining nine-CD box set) and moves into seminal rock legends like Cream, CSNY, Led Zeppelin, and the Rolling Stones -- all represented by only one song apiece. The second disc is wildly varied, featuring prog-rock from Yes, a couple of disco hits, and mainstream pop/rock from the '80s, as well as a few selections from Atlantic's most popular '90s artists (Tori Amos, Hootie and the Blowfish, Brandy, Jewel). So the problem certainly isn't with the quality of the music; it's just that there are so many different musical styles represented here that the set can't present them in any sort of context. Nearly all of these artists have a great deal more quality material out there, certainly enough that having one cut from each is hardly a satisfying proposition; moreover, there are various-artists compilations covering most of these styles in more coherent fashion. However, even if it isn't at all unified, Atlantic Records 50 Years undeniably possesses a wealth of great music.
Steve Huey, Rovi

Track Listing

  1. Yakety Yak
  2. What'd I Say
  3. Mack the Knife
  4. Stand by Me
  5. In the Midnight Hour
  6. I Got You Babe
  7. When a Man Loves a Woman
  8. Respect
  9. Soul Man
  10. (Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay
  11. Sunshine of Your Love
  12. Suite: Judy Blue Eyes
  13. Whole Lotta Love
  14. Brown Sugar
  15. Layla
  16. Roundabout
  17. Le Freak
  18. We Are Family
  19. Stop Draggin' My Heart Around
  20. In the Air Tonight
  21. I Want to Know What Love Is
  22. Wind Beneath My Wings
  23. Silent All These Years
  24. Baby
  25. Hold My Hand
  26. Who Will Save Your Soul