What once was "alternative" soon becomes pop, and not always because the band changes style. Sometimes it just takes a while for most people to realise how good a band is. Radiohead have only become weirder by the album, and they've simultaneously gained much mainstream acceptance.
So with good music, labels do not matter as much as the musical trend-chasers would have you believe. What matters is that it moves you, that it's meaningful and that it can still make an impression on you a few years down the line.
The value of The Alternative Album will depend on whether you are only now discovering bands like Coldplay ("Clocks"), Radiohead ("2+2=5"), Blur ("Out of Time"), Athlete ("Shake those windows"), Placebo ("English summer rain"), Gomez ("Silence"), Doves ("There goes the fear") or The Dandy Warhols ("We used to be friends"), or already have all their albums.
For new fans who don't already own one of the numerous compilations (such as Alternative Love Songs) that duplicate artists and actual tracks featured, this compilation is a great listen. The bands are all talented and worthwhile, and the tracks selected represent what the rest of the artists' work will sound like. So if you buy this CD and you like what you hear, invest in some original albums with absolute confidence.
To those who already know the "alternative" artists, this The Alternative Album has no more value than a burnt mix of tracks does. You'll get no special versions of songs, or songs not available on the artists' full length albums. The ugly SA Army-coloured cover (bizarrely, this is the only South African element!) doesn't help sell it either.- Jean Barker
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