Small Soldiers Various Artists
Small Soldiers: Music From the Motion Picture

At first glance, Small Soldiers is an excellent soundtrack of classic rock 'n' roll songs. But take a second look before you buy. Read the small print. Otherwise, when you're nodding to the familiar bass of Queen's "Another One Bites The Dust," you'll be annoyed and chagrined when Wyclef Jean, Pras and Free start rapping stuff like "Bullet proof vest like the wild wild west/this is a stickup" over the top of Freddie Mercury & Co. Queen Latifah interjects unnecessary grunts and "uh-huh's" into Pat Benatar's "Love Is A Battlefield," Kool Keith raps over The Pretenders' "My City Was Gone" and Bone Thugs-n-Harmony get together with alternative rockers Henry Rollins, Tom Morello and Flea to remake the old Edwin Starr song "War," and Starr's version is also included to close the disc. The songs that don't get a rap-over treatment get remixed. The edge and fire of The Cult's "Love Removal Machine" are dulled and doused by a warbling synthesizer bassline that overrides everything. Billy Squier's "The Stroke" and Cheap Trick's "Surrender" survive mild remixes unharmed (some additional drums and guitar), but Rush's "Tom Sawyer" is deconstructed and pieced back together with samples that don't improve at all upon the original.


Big 80s Various Artists
The Big 80's The Big Movies

This is the album for 30somethings to play at parties. (I intend to use it myself this weekend!) The most memorable tracks from teen flicks of the '80s like Pretty In Pink, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Ghostbusters, Weird Science, Valley Girl, The Breakfast Club and more are culled for this 16-track nostalgia fest.

Included are Ramones' "Rock 'n' Roll High School," Yello's "Oh Yeah," Psychedelic Furs' "Pretty in Pink," OMD's "If You Leave," Oingo Boingo's "Weird Science," Simple Minds' "Don't You Forget About Me," Bangles' remake of "Hazy Shade of Winter," New Order's "Bizarre Love Triangle" and more. This is one collection that doesn't invoke the "Skip Track" command every couple songs.

Collections & Reissues:

Looks like a contractual obligation album: Lemonheads fans might want to grab The Best of The Lemonheads on Atlantic Records if they don't already own the songs on CD.  If they do, however, there's not much of a reason to invest in this one. A slim collection of 12 songs, the disc collects material from three of the band's  Atlantic albums and an EP and offers nothing in the way of rarities or previously unreleased tracks. Included are the hits "It's A Shame About Ray," "Into Your Arms," and "Mrs. Robinson."...Arista Records has reissued three of Aretha Franklin's albums from the early '80s on CD, the material predating her big 1985 success with "Freeway of Love" and "Who's Zooming Who." 1981's Love All the Hurt Away paired Franklin with George Benson on the title track to create a Top 50 hit with its title track. 1982's Jump To It landed Franklin her first Top 40 hit of the '80s in the title track, and 1983's Get It Right paired Franklin with Luther Vandross and scored a minor hit with its title track.