VH1 Crossroads

Various Artists

Atlantic Records, 1996

REVIEW BY: Gordon T. Gekko

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 02/06/1998

For some, VH1 is somehow a recollection of what MTV used to be, with 24-hour rock/pop videos varying in decade as well as artist. For others it's a non-stop crapfest which shows the absolute worst tendencies of top-40 production artists. Like it or not, there are some really good songs on this 1st album from the network, the 1995 release, VH1 Crossroads.

"Crossroads" started airing on VH1 in 1993, partially as the networks answer to "Unplugged, " when they really didn't need to answer. Since both networks are owned by Time-Warner, they aren't really in direct competition. This sampler, much like The Unplugged Collection, is a good overview of songs taken from this series. (I don't want to call them highlights.)

It is also a pretty good map of top-40 pop from 1995 through 1997. The album opener, "Run-Around", from Blues Traveler, is an example of a very well written song, which got bad after about the thousandth time you heard it. The same could be said for Chris Isaak's "Somebody's Crying," Del Amitri's "Roll to Me," and Deep Blue Something's "Breakfast at Tiffany's." Each of these four songs suffers a similar curse. They would be great as album tracks, if the album was strong, but get somewhat tiresome when played every fifteen minutes by some incompetent program director that doesn't like any music other than the sound that the cash register makes as it opens, overflowing with cash, as he drives his Jaguar home, looking very silly in it, and waiting to become station manager. Meanwhile, he punishes us by playing "Who Will Save Your Soul", ad nauseum, while laughing in his corner office, waiting to se what we'll swallow next! Sorry, I got carried away. Back to the reviewnbtc__dv_250

But speaking of Jewel, her "Foolish Games" is one of the stronger tracks here. Other good songs include Edwin McCain's "Solitude," and Gin Blossoms' "'Til I Hear it From You." These are songs you are undoubtedly familiar with, and which are enhanced by a live format.

The best track here is Tori Amos's cover of the Springsteen classic, "I'm on Fire," which, (dare I say it), just may be better than the version from Born In The USA. Maybe it was a misstep to put it here, because it reminds everyone involved of what a quality pop song should sound like. I need a fix, Bruce, please make the new album soon. Also, I find Goo Goo Dolls' "Name" to be one of the best singles in recent memory. It's one of those teen-angst love songs that make you want to cry every time you hear it. That's not a problem here, because with the concert version of then song, unless you are already familiar with it, you will not understand a word uttered.

The problem with much of the album is in the lack of flow. There are some very popular songs here, and a few of them are even good. It's just hard to listen to them in one sitting without wondering why you aren't listening to the radio. If you like a lot of the songs listed above, but didn't want to buy the albums, here's your chance. If you are looking for another unplugged collection of tunes, then look elsewhere. (The new Bryan Adams one is a killer.)

Rating: B-

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© 1998 Gordon T. Gekko and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Atlantic Records, and is used for informational purposes only.