LOS ANGELES — Who would have thought that sitting down with an encyclopedia could be so much fun? It turns out that Sony's ambitious boxed set of CDs for the century, 547 tunes by 479 artists, is just that - both fun and educational.
Although the 26-disc package "Sony Music 100 Years: Soundtrack for a Century" doesn't pretend to be as comprehensive as an academic exploration of the music of this century might be, it is still a fascinating overview. Because Sony includes only artists whose careers intersected with some division of Sony, there are some glaring omissions, starting with the Beatles and Elvis Presley. But think about this partial list of who is included: Frank Sinatra, Leonard Bernstein, Miles Davis, Bob Dylan, Barbra Streisand, and Duke Ellington, for starters.
The discs are organized in categories, such as rock, jazz, classical, and country. The boxed set comes with a glossy, nine-pound, 300-page, coffee-table book of photos and essays. The small booklets within each of the boxed sets, however, are quite adequate for the journey, detailing the social and political climate that surrounded the music.
The biggest downside may be the cost: The suggested retail price for 'Soundtrack' is $349. But that figures each disc at around $13.50 - not too bad for what Sony is calling, with fair reason, "The Greatest Story Ever Heard."
(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society