The Café del Mar is perhaps most known around the world for its chill-out music compilations. The songs are described as balearic ambient, easy listening music. The collections of the music played at the café were first sold on cassette at the end of the 1980s. In 1994, the first official “Café del Mar” CD was released, which included works by world-renowned artists. Following the great success of the first release, a total of 18 volumes of the main compilation series have been published.
Vee Jay's 1964 album John Lee Hooker on Campus is titled to sound like a live recording but it isn't. As part of the Collectables Vee Jay reissue campaign, these 12 tracks originally tried to capitalize on Hooker's emergence on the coffeehouse/college tours he was involved in at the time. This is an electric album that contains excellent material from Hooker, even though the occasional background singers get in the way, attempting to modernize his gritty blues with a smoother soul sound. All of the Vee Jay reissues of John Lee Hooker material are worth having and are budget priced as a bonus.
The Ultimate Christmas Album, Vol. 5 collects more pop and rock holiday tunes, this time venturing further into the '70s and '80s with songs like Paul McCartney & Wings' "Wonderful Christmastime," Hall & Oates' "Jingle Bell Rock," and Barry Manilow's "It's Just Another New Year's Eve." The collection still features traditional pop chestnuts, including Dean Martin's "A Marshmallow World," Johnny Mathis' "The Christmas Song (Merry Christmas to You)," and Andy Williams' "Sleigh Ride," but this volume's overall feel is more contemporary than classic. Other highlights include Manhattan Transfer's "A Christmas Love Song," the Waitresses' "Christmas Wrapping," the Tokens' "Little Drummer Boy," and the Jackson 5's "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus." If The Ultimate Christmas Album, Vol. 5 isn't necessarily the most coherent volume in the series, it's certainly one of the most interesting.
After what was reportedly a commercial failure in the more straight-ahead, symphonically oriented Les Contes du Singe Fou, Cyrille decided to take over the production duties on the next album, Visions, and imbibed it with a slightly new musical direction based on Eastern philosophical and religious precepts. The result is a generally varied work that retains the more structured vibe of the previous album. Cyrille Verdeaux's piano and keyboard melodies are again the dominant force on Visions, and are supplemented by the usual eclectic blend of instrumentation. …
Jordi Savall has brought us yet another treasure on his own Alia Vox label, this time a mixed bag of music by Reformation Era composers and a handful of slightly earlier works. It’s all taken from a concert program Savall gave last year under the aegis of “greatest hits of the court of Charles V”. The composers presented are mostly court musicians for that Holy Roman Emperor, but Josquin and Heinrich Isaac also are included, the latter as a nod to Charles’ grandfather, Maximilian I, who was responsible for getting Charles the crown. Savall combines his first-rate instrumental ensemble, updated to Hespèrion XXI, with his own vocal group, La Capella Reial de Catalunya. The results are captivating. Savall’s musicians are tops in the field, and their collective talents, constantly on display in this varied program, are simply a joy to hear.
The Screen Behind The Mirror released as the fourth album in the Enigma line. It brought the project to what would become a maturity of the "first age" in the saga, being the last album to use the old Enigma style where fresh ideas infused with mystery, philosophy, and sensuality were extensively coupled with samples from other and older works. In the case of The Screen Behind The Mirror this was done with Carl Orff's famous Carmina Burana, most specifically O Fortuna, a movement lamenting the woes of fortune. Especially Gravity of Love and Camera Obscura makes use of it.
A sequel of sorts to his earlier On the Beach, King of the Beach continues the laid-back mood of the earlier album but is (despite the goofy title) a more mature and unified work. It's one of his best albums and is a return to form after the film soundtrack La Passione and the more electronic sounds of The Road to Hell Part 2. Written primarily during a vacation in the Turks and Caicos Islands, it's replete with lots of beach and summer imagery in the titles ("King of the Beach," "All Summer Long," "Sandwriting," "Sail Away") as well as the lyrics, which were originally written as poems. A remix of "All Summer Long" was a big dance hit in Ibiza and other Mediterranean hot spots. A good album for a summer day, with a soulful mellowness flowing through the tracks.