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The Ultimate Grammy Box: From the Recording Academy's Collection

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11/16/1999

Review

It's easy to bash the Grammys if you're a fan of pop music -- especially if you're a record geek. It's easy to spot the omissions, whether it's the Rolling Stones or Velvet Underground, and it's easy to laugh about Jethro Tull winning the first Heavy Metal Grammy in 1988, beating out the quintessential metal band of the '80s, Metallica. These are all valid points, but they're all a little churlish, since the Grammys have never really attempted to be hip, even if they've occasionally given lip service to it. Instead, they're a snapshot of mainstream popular musical tastes at a particular time, as Sony's The Ultimate Grammy Box illustrates. The four-disc set covers a lot of ground in its 73 songs, sampling everything from Vladimir Horowitz to Beck. Since the compilers have taken no consideration to sequencing the set according to year or genre, the end result is a little overwhelming, offering such bewildering sequences as Duke Ellington, Billy Joel, Peggy Lee, and Michael Jackson; Mariah Carey, Toto, Patsy Cline, and Yo-Yo Ma; Beck, Buddy Holly, Annie Lennox, Domenico Modugno, and Boyz II Men; Tammy Wynette, Frankie Yankovic, Michael Bolton, and Woody Guthrie. Clearly, only listeners with the broadest possible taste will be able to sit through these four discs and enjoy every single track, but that's sort of the point of The Ultimate Grammy Box -- it's an attempt to chronicle every aspect of American pop music that the Grammys have covered and, in doing so, prove just how rich that music has been. Of course, the compilers bend the rules somewhat, including songs and artists that technically didn't win Grammys (such as Jimi Hendrix, a member of the Grammy Hall of Fame, but a musician who went Grammy-less during his life), but that doesn't matter since the end product is the same. The Ultimate Grammy Box is an impressive display of musical diversity that is nevertheless a little undigestible because of its diversity. It's one thing to enjoy individual tracks (most of which are excellent), or to marvel at the variety in the track listing; it's quite another to listen to it. The Ultimate Grammy Box can be entertaining -- after all, much of this music was awarded for a reason -- but it needs some hands-on editing from the listeners to make it a consistent listening experience. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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  1. # Track Artist Length
  2. 1 Good Vibrations The Beach Boys 3:37
  3. 2 What's Going On Marvin Gaye 3:52
  4. 3 Respect Aretha Franklin 2:26
  5. 4 Band on the Run Paul McCartney & Wings 5:14
  6. 5 Always on My Mind Willie Nelson 3:32
  7. 6 Heartbreak Hotel Elvis Presley 2:10
  8. 7 I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me) Whitney Houston 4:51
  9. 8 Purple Haze The Jimi Hendrix Experience 2:53
  10. 9 God Bless the Child Billie Holiday 2:59
  11. 10 Take the 'A' Train Duke Ellington 2:57
  12. 11 Just the Way You Are Billy Joel 4:51
  13. 12 Is That All There Is? Peggy Lee 4:22
  14. 13 Beat It Michael Jackson 4:19
  15. 14 I Left My Heart in San Francisco Tony Bennett 2:52
  16. 15 Vers la Flamme (Poème), Op. 72 Vladimir Horowitz 5:44
  17. 16 Isn't She Lovely Stevie Wonder 6:37
  18. 17 A Taste of Honey Herb Alpert 2:44
  19. 18 What's Love Got to Do with It Tina Turner 3:50
  20. 19 Stayin' Alive Bee Gees 4:44
  21. 1 My Heart Will Go On [Love Theme from Titanic] Celine Dion 4:41
  22. 2 Hello, Dolly! Louis Armstrong 2:26
  23. 3 Tell Me Something Good Rufus & Chaka Khan 4:39
  24. 4 Vision of Love Mariah Carey 3:29
  25. 5 Africa Toto 5:0
  26. 6 Crazy Patsy Cline 2:44
  27. 7 Gavotte from Suite No. 6, S. 1012 by J.S. Bach Yo-Yo Ma 3:30
  28. 8 Don't Worry, Be Happy Bobby McFerrin 4:51
  29. 9 Reach Out (I'll Be There) Four Tops 2:59
  30. 10 Rockit Herbie Hancock 5:25
  31. 11 (Just Like) Starting Over John Lennon 3:57
  32. 12 Oh, Pretty Woman Roy Orbison 2:58
  33. 13 Blues for Pablo Gil Evans 5:22
  34. 14 Mi Tierra Gloria Estefan 4:40
  35. 15 Cold Irons Bound Bob Dylan 7:16
  36. 16 Sunny Came Home Shawn Colvin 4:25
  37. 17 Folsom Prison Blues Johnny Cash 2:44
  38. 18 The Thrill Is Gone B.B. King 5:25
  39. 1 Where It's At Beck 5:32
  40. 2 Peggy Sue Buddy Holly 2:31
  41. 3 No More "I Love You's" [Cover] Annie Lennox 4:52
  42. 4 Nel Blu Dipinto Di Blu (Volare) Domenico Modugno 3:35
  43. 5 End of the Road Boyz II Men 5:52
  44. 6 Act II: Vissi d'Arte (From Tosca) Leontyne Price 3:18
  45. 7 Stones in the Road Mary Chapin Carpenter 4:33
  46. 8 Blue LeAnn Rimes 2:49
  47. 9 Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In (The Flesh Failures) The 5th Dimension 4:49
  48. 10 Let's Stay Together Al Green 3:14
  49. 11 Oye Como Va Santana 4:18
  50. 12 U Can't Touch This MC Hammer 4:19
  51. 13 Sneakin' Around Chet Atkins 4:27
  52. 14 He Stopped Loving Her Today George Jones 3:17
  53. 15 Shining Star Earth, Wind & Fire 2:51
  54. 16 Black Hole Sun Soundgarden 5:20
  55. 17 To Zion 4:34
  56. 1 All I Wanna Do Sheryl Crow 4:34
  57. 2 Higher Love Steve Winwood 5:51
  58. 3 The Girl from Ipanema 2:47
  59. 4 If You Leave Me Now Chicago 3:57
  60. 5 A-Tisket, A-Tasket Ella Fitzgerald 2:38
  61. 6 Theme from Peter Gunn Henry Mancini 2:7
  62. 7 The Ghost of Tom Joad Bruce Springsteen 4:23
  63. 8 When I Call Your Name Vince Gill 4:15
  64. 9 Midnight Train to Georgia Gladys Knight & the Pips 4:38
  65. 10 Lazy Bird John Coltrane 7:7
  66. 11 Your Secret Love Luther Vandross 4:14
  67. 12 I Can't Make You Love Me Bonnie Raitt 5:34
  68. 13 Stand by Your Man Tammy Wynette 2:39
  69. 14 Just Because Frankie Yankovic 2:29
  70. 15 How Am I Supposed to Live Without You Michael Bolton 4:17
  71. 16 This Land Is Your Land Woody Guthrie 2:19
  72. 17 Blue Moon of Kentucky Bill Monroe & His Bluegrass Boys 3:2
  73. 18 Blowin' in the Wind [Cover] Peter, Paul and Mary 2:57
  74. 19 That's What Friends Are For Dionne Warwick 4:16

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