To celebrate Mannheim Steamroller
's 25th anniversary, Chip Davis -- the mastermind behind this new age juggernaut -- has released this two-disc retrospective. Each track is taken from a different Steamroller album, creating what Davis calls "a musical timeline." The course of Mannheim's musical evolution was set from their very first track, "Prelude/Chocolate Fudge" on FRESH AIRE 1
, an eclectic manifesto that showed Davis was never shy about mixing musical styles. Jazz, classical, funk, and pop are whipped together into a smooth, frothy concoction, something he originally termed "18th-century rock 'n' roll." As descriptions go, it's a perfect fit, especially when Davis adds in baroque-style ornaments that glitter in their electronic getup -- check out "Interlude I" from INTERLUDES
. But in listening to this collection, what's most striking is the scope of the music; no two songs here sound alike. Even the three Christmas tunes here -- a Steamroller specialty -- celebrate the holiday with merry variety. Only the most maniacal Mannheim fans will have all 25 of the tracks here, so this provides a fine overview -- and with the bonus of "The Steamroller," a track from the forthcoming FRESH AIRE 8, it's clear this train ain't stopping anytime soon.